To save them from themselves. It's that simple. It's why I am here.
Also to win elections, but that's an add-on benefit.
When I refer to the left in the context of this diary, I am speaking of the Loyal Opposition within the Party, those who stay with the Party to fight the battle internally as opposed to simply exiting the field.
Loyal opposition: : a minority party esp. in a legislative body whose opposition to the party in power is constructive, responsible, and bounded by loyalty to fundamental interests and principles."Loyal Opposition." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. .
I think that's a pretty fair description of many Democrats/Liberals in the general population as well some media Democrats/Liberals and of a number of people who blog at this site.
A good example of someone in the media who I think has unimpeachable credentials as a Democrat would be Robert Reich who served as a Democratic Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton. He writes frequently on his own blog and for Huffington Post and is reprinted in major press routinely. His pieces are thoughtful and reality based and often contain uncomfortable economic truths for those Democrats who are in positions of power and create the economic real world we all have to live in.
Does anyone here think that he censors himself or alters his viewpoint if it does not adequately support the Party line? I would say, based on the evidence of his columns, that he doesn't. He writes his mostly fact based (he is an economist, after all) opinion. In doing so, he exercises his power to inform, challenge the current accepted wisdom and possibly even CHANGE the current accepted wisdom. There are countless other respected journalists and economists and social scientists who write critical evaluations of current policy because it is their job and their responsibility to do so. If anything, we need more journalism like this, not less, and we need it regardless of what party occupies the seats of power at any given time.
The lefties, pony riders, and other critics on this blog rarely rise to the level to a Robert Reich or a Paul Krugman or a Diane Ravitch, but in their small way, I see their role as the same - to inform, challenge and change. If we don't take on this role, the goal of "Better Democrats" is nothing but an illusory, vacuous and ill-defined feel good term. I'll echo Nancy Reagan here when she acerbically said "kinder and gentler than whom ?
My question would be - "Better than what?"
If the left had not been strident and vocal, or as some would have it, "whiny", in my opinion we'd be enacting Simpson Bowles (the Third Way pony) and chained CPI and worse right now in our wrong-headed rush to "embrace the suck". In some ways, the Republican's maniacal recalcitrance to co-operate even when offered opportunities to implement long standing Republican goals that would weaken the safety nets has helped to give the left time and opportunity to educate, challenge and change.
Some of that happened right here on this blog. Did you know what chained CPI was and it's compounding consequences over time? Neither did I. But I do now. And I know that in a world where the rich are left to pay ridiculously low tax rates on their unearned income, it is immoral and unethical to attempt to balance the budgets on the backs of the poor and elderly. I think the mainstream Dems in power and even the President himself have been shamed into acknowledging this fact since he has now dropped it from his budget.
Liberals have been clear on both the rhetorical and political dimensions of the chained CPI. A number of us (Dean Baker, Digby, this author, and others) have written extensively on both aspects of its presence in Obama's last budget, and many of us have discussed policy, political tactical reasons for its exclusion this time around. A number of progressive organizations have pushed for its removal on just such moral, tactical, and political grounds -- mustering facts and figures, commissioning polls, and doing the other spade-and-mortar work of activism.I count this as a success.
Not to pick at scabs, this success points out exactly why we should not listen to those who that told us, right here in River City, that the President knows better, that we are enabling our enemies with our criticism, that we should settle for this because it could be worse, that it isn't really a cut, etc.*
This success through constructive whining, bitching, moaning, finger-pointing MADE US BETTER. It made us "Better Democrats" collectively. It removed a lemming cliff. It will make the Democrats more viable in upcoming elections if they realize that there are some things they shouldn't attempt to do in wrong-headed bi-partisanship and appeals to centrism. Solomon does not give a foot to one mother as a compromise.
Now, let's talk about something else. No Party, anywhere at anytime deserves the unthoughtful, robotic vote of its members, although that position is one that is strongly advocated here. My job is to vote, the Party's job is to deserve my vote. I can't believe that is even subject to debate. To believe otherwise is to be believe that the people who post here and Democrats in general do not have the wisdom and self-respect to determine when and to whom they will bestow the single most powerful tool of Democracy.
*This is a paraphrase of lots of commentary on lots of threads, so please spare the demands to produce links to the specific comments. If you want to see the typical discussions that went down, just search chained CPI and read the diaries)