What Should Dems Do Now?

18 posts / 0 new

From Evan Bayh: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/03/opinion/03bayh.html?_r=1&nl=&emc=a212

Excerpts:

Democrats should support a freeze on federal hiring and pay increases. Government isn’t a privileged class and cannot be immune to the times.

The most important area for spending restraint is entitlement reform. Democrats should offer changes to the system that would save hundreds of billions of dollars while preserving the safety net for our neediest. For instance, we could introduce “progressive indexation,” which would provide lower cost-of-living increases for more affluent Social Security recipients, or devise a more accurate measure of inflation’s effects on all recipients’ income.

Democrats should also improve legislation already enacted. Health care reform, financial regulation and other initiatives were first attempts at solving complex problems, not holy writ. The administration’s grant of sensible exemptions to the health care bill, permitting some employers to offer only basic coverage, is an example of common-sense, results-oriented fine-tuning.

If President Obama and Congressional Democrats were to take these and other moderate steps on tax reform, deficit reduction and energy security, they would confront Republicans with a quandary: cooperate to make America more prosperous and financially stable, running the risk that the president would likely receive the credit, or obstruct what voters perceive as sensible solutions.

Having seen so many moderates go down to defeat in this year’s primaries, few Republicans in Congress will be likely to collaborate. And as the Republicans — including the party’s 2012 presidential candidates — genuflect before the Tea Party and other elements of the newly empowered right wing, President Obama can seize the center.

I’m betting the president and his advisers understand much of this. If so, assuming the economy recovers, President Obama can win re-election; Democrats can set the stage for historic achievements in a second term. The extremes of both parties will be disappointed. But the vast center yearning for progress will applaud, and the country will benefit.

Coalage's picture
Coalage
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Comments

What does it even mean to be a moderate in America these days? The reason the Dems. lost this election so badly is because they walked too much in the middle for the last 2 years.

While they may have passed some significant legislation. In the end it was so watered down to appease the Republicans it barely bore any resemblence to the original idea.

No what we are seeing in America, is an EVEN bigger divide than we have had in the past. The left is moving further to the left, and the right is moving further to the right. The middle is what is getting left behind, and no doubt at some point those people are going to have to decide which direction they want support.

If Obama does nothing but appease moderates for the next 2 years, he might as well call it night right now.

But maybe that is the point...

meljomur's picture
meljomur
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The reason the dems lost is because the voting public didn't see any meaningful effort to improve the economy. You can argue about the effects, or lack of, the stimulus bill. While the health care bill is an important piece of legislation, most of the public still doesn't understand it or why there seemed to be such an urgency in getting it passed.

Unfortunately, this is a "what have you done for me lately" atmosphere. The public wanted results from Obama and congress and didn't get any, at least in the minds of many.

Coalage's picture
Coalage
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Sieze the Center.... which is a code word in this country for Right.

The Phantom Left

Quote Chris Hedges: The American left is a phantom. It is conjured up by the right wing to tag Barack Obama as a socialist and used by the liberal class to justify its complacency and lethargy. It diverts attention from corporate power. It perpetuates the myth of a democratic system that is influenced by the votes of citizens, political platforms and the work of legislators. It keeps the world neatly divided into a left and a right. The phantom left functions as a convenient scapegoat. The right wing blames it for moral degeneration and fiscal chaos. The liberal class uses it to call for “moderation.” And while we waste our time talking nonsense, the engines of corporate power—masked, ruthless and unexamined—happily devour the state.

The center is the corporate agenda. Obama already seized the "center." That's why this was one of the most dispiriting elections of my lifetime, and others. Tom Engelhardt summed it up yesterday:

Ballot Box Blues:

He writes, on the morning after the voting in the 2004 election...

I contemplated the way American voters had re-upped for “the rashest presidency in our history (short perhaps of that of Jefferson Davis).”

“They have,” I added, “signed on to a disastrous crime of a war in Iraq, and a losing war at that which will only get worse; they have signed on to whatever dangerous schemes these schemers can come up with. They have signed on to their own impoverishment. This is the political version of the volunteer Army. Now, they have to live with it. Unfortunately, so do we.”

Hermetic Systems and Mad Elephants

Six years later, we are indeed poorer in all the obvious ways, and some not so obvious ones as well. How, then, could the 2010 midterms be the most dispiriting elections of my life, especially when Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News assured us, in the days leading up to the event, that it would have “the power to reshape our nation’s politics.” Okay, you and I know that’s BS, part of the endless, breathless handicapping of the midterms that went on non-stop for weeks on the TV news?

Still, the most dispiriting? After all, I’m the guy who penned a piece eight days after the 2008 election entitled “Don’t Let Barack Obama Break Your Heart.” In what was, for most people I knew, a decidedly upbeat moment, I then wrote, for instance: “So, after January 20th, expect Obama to take possession of George Bush's disastrous Afghan War; and unless he is far more skilled than Alexander the Great, British Empire builders, and the Russians, his war, too, will continue to rage without ever becoming a raging success.”

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

I know if Obama was smart and REALLY wanted to keep the Dems. in power he should have started a war with Iran. That would get the old neanderthal blood going.

You are correct ren, the center is just another name for the right. Which is why I said that group is shrinking, they are moving to the REAL right. I doubt most of those "moderate" people would ever consider moving to the left.

Actually, I happen to think this election bodes well for progressives. I know that may seem an odd observation, but I liken it to an almost Darwinian view of American politics. I definitely think the liberals are the most able to survive and prosper. Out of confusion there is opportunity.

meljomur's picture
meljomur
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I was watching coverage off and on on MSNBC last night. They had the crew we are familiar with: Olberman, Maddow, Mathews some others. What struck me as revealing is that Mathews challenged Michel Bachman for some answers to republican rhetoric as to how to reduce the deficit while making the tax cuts for the rich permanent. That's 700 billion per year added to the deficit and Bachman talked in circles and couldn't name one single program that she would cut. This was repeated with every republican interviewed by the MSNBC team. I'm forgetting the names of the republicans now but it is revealing to watch.

This should be a great opportunity for the American people to see at last that the republican party can generate ideological rhetoric but can they actually produce any good ideas and follow up with actions?

Choco's picture
Choco
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

mel, more and more people, many who dubiously put their energy behind Obama in the last election, are recognizing this political system is broken, and maybe beyond repair. As Chris Hedges puts it, we've endured a coup d'etat in slow motion, economics rules politics and the power of the purse is the basis of the power in economics.

In Wolin's Democracy Incorporated, Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, he points out that in our system, economics controls politics. That's what makes it inverted from a political totalitarian type system, like a fascist system where politics controls economics.

When the Supreme Court rules in favor of a corporation, implying that it has equal rights to actual human beings, that it's aggregate, collective ability to accumulate money is equal to speech, and the use of that money to spread speech, which can easily be twisted propaganda, we see just how far certain legal philosophies are willing to go in interpreting the U.S. Constitution.

And then, the number of corporate paid representatives influencing legislation in D.C., as well as state legislatures is another disease we can't cure...

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am
Quote Choco: This should be a great opportunity for the American people to see at last that the republican party can generate ideological rhetoric but can they actually produce any good ideas and follow up with actions?

Yes, they are in much the same position Obama and the Democrats were in after the 2008 election.

Obama was sold as a brand. I don't believe he addressed the problems people believed his brand told them he would.

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

The party of no change has been replaced by the party of no change.. In 2012, the party of no change will be replaced by the party of no change.

A prophetic voice before the election:

"While still popular among party loyalists, the president has become radioactive among independents--the critical group of “swing voters” who have fled Camp Obama en masse frustrated with both the lack of audacity and/or change. No one figured they were electing George W. Bush to a third term in office when they cast their vote for the inspiring senator from Illinois two years ago. But that's what they got. "

I"n truth, it's not all Obama's fault. He was picked by elites who thought they could ride his lofty-sounding bloviating all the way to the White House. And they did, too, but that's when things began to unravel, as one campaign promise after the other was tossed aside. Obama even backpedaled on issues that would have cost him very little in terms of political capital—like gays in the military or allowing California's bid to liberalize marijuana laws go unchallenged.

"Today’s balloting is a referendum on the Obama presidency. Let the landslide begin." - Mike Whitney

http://www.counterpunch.org/whitney11022010.html

The meltdown marches on.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

ren, I suspect you and I are on the same page more than you realize. (I just may not articulate it in the same manner)

Yes the system is broken. I agree by making it even easier for corporations to anonymously fund campaigns, it makes it more likely the biggest puppet will win.

But I also think the people who may just come out the best in all of this, are the people who REALLY see what is going on. Those who can understand what is happening just beneath the surface. The fact that this is all a show, and the real scenario is largely unseen.

I honestly am sickened by what has happened (and will happen to millions of Americans) in the coming years. But those of us, who see the big picture, have the mind and the ability to position ourselves effectively. Perhaps its an opportunity not a detriment.

For some reason I feel really positive about this election. I don't know why exactly, but I suspect it will be clearer in about a year from now.

meljomur's picture
meljomur
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

There may be no legislative agenda at all for the next two years. The 2/3 of stimulus that was sat on may get fed into the system now and create the jobs it was designed for, and give credit to republicans. Health care won't change, all the exemptions and revisions were exactly what republicans wanted, and gave to their lobbyists. Knowing it would pass, they wrote the legislation and voted against it so they could claim the high road in 2010. They vote for things they know will not pass for the same reason. Votes in congress are to satisfy the precinct constituents, the real constituents, the corporate funders and lobbyists don't need votes, they get the law, or legal bypass. There are two americas as John Edwards said, but it's voters and corporations, voters have no say in the legislation, corporations do. Tax cuts will be extended, and they might put a forward date for paygo to be discussed [not enacted], to prove they are deficit hawks.

douglaslee's picture
douglaslee
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I'm not suggesting we are on different pages. I'm just saying what I see, what I have taken the trouble to root out and make into some kind of sensible narrative, so yes, we may have different ways of saying things. That's what a personal narrative is about. You get different perspectives and slants through a narrative, like looking through a prism in different ways. So it can all be helpful for anyone trying to build their own narrative.

Here's the challenge I see to your above hopeful perspective. People are aware that something isn't quite right, but they don't have a story out there giving them a good idea of what is actually going on, and what could actually work.

Many people I know, who are Democrats, believe that if they read the NYTimes, the LATimes, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, or the Boston Globe, they are getting better information than if they watch the evening news, MSNBC, CBS, Fox, or whatever. The don't even know about the wealth of good, very thoughtful criticism, that's out there to be found, just not the "accepted" and supposedly moderate voice of the Main Stream.

The challenge is for them to find an articulate form of expression within themselves from what they can learn about the world for their growing discontent. Few will invent one on their own. So the problem comes down to the issue of information. And the difficulty is, where do they look for some ideas that might be provocative enough for them to begin to develop a bigger picture of their own?

I know people who watch the Sunday talk shows thinking they are a cut above the Joe Sixpacks who watch Fox Cable. They listen attentively, nodding wisely to intellectual pundits like Fareed Zakaria, who gives them a very articulate, and supposedly balanced view of the corporate run international world, and they think they understand what's going on. Oh the guy's good. Calm, balanced, matter of fact, a little knowing smile, this is simply the way it is kind of approach. But the ideas are predictably constrained. Fareed has sometimes been posed as a counter to Thomas Friedman, another journalist. They had some debates over Thomas' Flat Earth book and Fareed's Post American World. To me they are nearly clones. Why is he not put up against someone on the order of Noam Chomsky?

And if we can't get the gerbils out of their cage, are they going to continue to believe they are running somewhere on those little political exercise wheels?

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

One of our Liberal blind spots is to the power of illusion. We believe people have reason and can use it to expose illusions, so they expect people to learn from the experience of disaster as if our narrative suddenly formed in their heads. The experience of disaster does not produce the greatest critics or historians in that moment. You something is wrong, but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones. Another Dylan reference.

I am afraid the reading list of the average Democratic activist does not include Hedges or Wolin. I am not sure where they think the "middle" is or how to talk to anyone who is not a Democrat already. Now that my physical self is up to it, I am going to be helping them learn about understanding what is going on here. In order to get our narrative together we have to give up our tired cliches and examine what we think we think. Even if we are perfectly clear to ourselves, what we are saying is not being heard as we intend by others. The truth needs help in rhetoric and images. Sending it out naked to battle with the forces of the Rove is stupid.

DRC's picture
DRC
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I do agree that liberalism has tended to put a greater emphasis on the powers of reason than it deserves, perhaps to the point of an unbalancing of the social thinking process itself. But after all, wasn't the reputed correlation between reason and individuality the revolutionary thinking that got Europe out of its Dark Ages? People like Descartes, "I think, therefore I am"? Yet we can easily overlook that reason is not all that makes up our humanity, and to emphasize reason over all our other human attributes can do some damage if those attributes are relegated to the dungeons of the mind where they may wither and die in the darkness. The horror of logical, sensible reason might have found it's most profound expression in something like the trial of Adolph Eichman. Lenny Bruce did a rendition of that trial:

Lenny Bruce on Adolf Eichmann

"They hung me in full view of the courtyard. Do you people think you are so special because you burned your enemies at long distances with missiles, rather than see what you have done to them. Hiroshima, ach vedder sein ."

The correlation between reason and the simple and basic logic that is needed to create the progression of ever advancing technology, and a correlated personal freedom is another form of the potential ill effects of the dominance of reason.

Jacques Ellul describes it in The Treachery of Technology Part I

Just consider, for example, that atrocious excuse... It was one of the most horrible things I have ever heard. The person in charge of the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen was asked during the Auschwitz trial -- the Nuremberg trials regarding Auschwitz and Berge-Belsen: But didn't you find it horrible? All those corpses?

He replied: what could I do? The capacity of the ovens was too small. I couldn't process all those corpses. It caused me too many problems.

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

Ren posted a quote:

Quote:Just consider, for example, that atrocious excuse... It was one of the most horrible things I have ever heard. The person in charge of the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen was asked during the Auschwitz trial -- the Nuremberg trials regarding Auschwitz and Berge-Belsen: But didn't you find it horrible? All those corpses?

He replied: what could I do? The capacity of the ovens was too small. I couldn't process all those corpses. It caused me too many problems.

poly replies: And from his perspective, it was a logical, "reasonable" response to the question.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

An over reliance on the logical, the reasonable, can be tragic, and sometimes we can laugh at it as well. One story heard about an autistic shows similarities in how that person at the Auschwitz trial misunderstood the possible meanings in the question about the corpses being awful, because reason on its face can be taken literally:

The phone rang and a young girl, about 10, answered. "Hello."

A male voice on the phone asked, "Hi, is your father there?"

She looked around the room. "No." (He was in the next room where she'd come from, so she knew where he was.) And then she simply hung up.

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

One of the results was the defeat of those that pledged to support net neutrality. I sure their opponents were funded by corporations that want to own the internet.

douglaslee's picture
douglaslee
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote .ren:

The phone rang and a young girl, about 10, answered. "Hello."

A male voice on the phone asked, "Hi, is your father there?"

She looked around the room. "No." (He was in the next room where she'd come from, so she knew where he was.) And then she simply hung up.

ren, this story made me smile. This is exactly what my (almost 10 year old) autistic son does when he answers the telephone and no one else is in the room.

The literal mind at work.

meljomur's picture
meljomur
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Currently Chatting

GOP Blocks Equal Pay...again.

Just in time for election season, Senate Republicans blocked legislation aimed at closing the gender pay gap. For the third time since 2012, Republicans refused to allow debate on the Paycheck Fairness Act, and reminded women that the GOP doesn't believe in equal pay for equal work.

Powered by Pressflow, an open source content management system