|If you read Calitics at any time between 2007 and 2010, you'd have seen a site focused on the same problem now facing the country as a whole: how to keep a government, an economy, and a society functioning in the face of Republican obstruction. The latest nonsense surrounding the so-called "fiscal cliff" shows that the House Republicans have learned well from their Sacramento counterparts. The method is the same: make Democrats do what they otherwise would not do by threatening to block passage of crucial legislation, then up the ante by rejecting initial deals and demanding even more once Democrats have shown they will make concessions to avoid the predicted disaster that comes with legislative inaction. The resulting deals were destructive to the state's economy and safety net, worsening the already bad financial and social crisis.
For a long time, Sacramento Democrats argued they had no other choice. We heard from Speakers of the Assembly and Presidents of the Senate that unless concessions were made to obtain Republican votes, budgets would not be passed and people would suffer. Republicans made good on their threats and delayed budgets - the 2008-09 budget was three months late. Now we're watching a similar script play out in Congress.
Here in 2013, California is in a very different place - precisely because of the lessons learned from the era of Republican obstruction. Voters approved a tax increase to help schools. The state budget is headed toward surplus. Budgets are passed on time and without hostage tactics. State government is starting to become functional again.
That did not happen by accident. It happened because Democrats and progressives decided they had enough of Republican obstructionism and developed a plan to stop it for good. The plan included smarter legislative tactics, but the real keys were changes to the political process as well as an unprecedented organizing effort, all aimed at the same core goal: restoring political power to the people, not allowing it to remain concentrated in an extremist fringe.
The first step requires being honest about how politics now works. Another veteran of those California political wars, David Atkins, observed that expecting Republicans to act rationally is to misunderstand how the party operates:
The Republican electoral chips are stashed safely in gerrymandered hands, and any losses over fiscal cliffs or debt ceilings only hurt the President and the nation's perception of government. There's no downside for the GOP in bluffing every time in the hopes that the President will fold. Why not? When you're playing with house money, it makes sense to go all in on every hand.This realization led California Democrats and progressives away from focusing on the specifics of a deal and toward the kind of process and political changes that would end the obstructionism for good. Once it was realized the problems were deeper, people started working on the lasting solutions.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2010—It's Not a New Decade. Yes, It Is! No, It Isn't!:
|The late Stephen J. Gould and the late Arthur C. Clarke got into a good-hearted dispute about whether the new millennium started January 1, 2000, or January 1, 2001. Gould even wrote a wonderful, tidbit-filled book called Questioning the Millennium: A Rationalist's Guide to a Precisely Arbitrary Countdown.
"Precisely arbitrary" captured it exactly right. But we can be counted upon to argue about when each decade and each century starts right up until the fourth millennium begins on January 1,
If it really matters to you—and if it does, you might try getting out more—you can dig as deeply as you want into this dispute. For instance, check out what Jan Zuidhoek has to say at Millennium Mistake. And there's also this.
At its root, the argument stems from the fact that the creators of the Western calendar were not Mayans or Hindus, peoples with both the concept and a symbol for zero. Hence, our calendar recognizes no year zero. Every decade begins not in the year ending in a 0, but ending in a 1, 2011, not 2010.
The only problem being, that in popular parlance, it doesn't make sense to call the decade of the '90s, 1991-2000. And how does 2011 fit into the decade of the '00s?
Kagro in the Morning was on break for New Year's, but returns tomorrow and for the balance of the week. We'll visit with Greg Dworkin, and talk about the horrors of the Fiscal Thingy, Ari Fleischer's accidental revelations about the Republican soul, and whatever other stupid things the wingnuts do between now and then. Find the full record of our podcasts with the new Radio button up at the top of the page (with which we'll do more in the months to come). And if you missed Monday's show, here it is, for your New Year's enjoyment!