Glenn Reynolds doesn’t come out and say it, but in his “The Tea Party Dominance Was Inevitable” editorial he skirts the idea, so I will just say it: The American left needs its own Tea Party movement. Ordinary Americans with leftist values need to launch an insurgency against the Democratic establishment just as the Tea Party has launched one against the Republican establishment.
The Founders well knew that the primary political dynamic in any free society was never faction against faction but the people versus the state. We have forgotten this essential insight at the heart of American governance. Distracted by the struggle of left versus right, we have let a political class form that serves no faction but itself. It is The Combine.
The Combine is the primary enemy of all Americans, left, right or orthogonal. Ordinary Americans with leftist values have a duty to fight against The Combine for what they believe is right.
The Tea Party is not just an uprising against encroaching socialism, it is an insurgency against a Republican party that has held fiscal conservatives in contempt. It is growing quite clear that the Democrat leadership has the same contempt for the people who fought hardest to elect them and that the Democratic leadership no longer truly represents most American leftists. The contempt shown by the Democratic leadership towards some of their most ardent supporters is shocking.
John Stewart justly mocked Biden for telling ordinary leftists to “stop whining”. In the same segment, he then rightly mocked Obama for berating ordinary leftists as being “irresponsible” if they fail to show up and vote like drones. Obama arrogantly demanded they do so even though many ordinary leftists believe that the Obama/Pelosi/Reid triumvirate has ignored their most important concerns.
Obama in particular seems to have adopted the most insulting tone imaginable in basically claiming that ordinary leftists are to dim too understand that it takes time to undo all the damage the Democrats claim the Republicans did. Oh, they understand perfectly well. Ordinary leftists understand all too well that it takes time to produce economic effects.
What they don’t understand is why, when the Democrats completely control the House, Senate and Presidency, they have refused to even start to fight for issues that are matters of pure government fiat, matters that could be settled with a vote and the stroke of a pen. What they don’t understand is why the Democrats have suddenly forgotten matters of “fierce moral urgency.”
Lefty Peter Daou sums this up:
Political observers are mystified over the demise of hope, with everything from the economy to health care posited as the reason, but as I’ve argued time and again, it’s the moral authority, stupid…From gay rights to executive power to war to the environment, the left increasingly believes the Obama White House lacks the moral courage to undo Bush’s radicalism. If anything, the Aulaqi case is an indication Obama will go further than Bush to “prove” his strength. When the Obama administration appeared to collude with BP to bury the Gulf spill, squandering a historic opportunity to reverse the anti-green tide, it was a moment of truth for environmentalists. Now, it is dawning on some Americans that Bush wasn’t an aberration and that a Democratic administration will also treat fundamental rights as a mere nuisance. It truly is a new (un)reality:
I personally don’t agree with 80% of the leftist agenda, but I firmly believe that ordinary leftists are justified in being angry at their lack of representation from the politicians they voted into office. The leftwing leadership: elected officials, party functionaries, activists, academics, journalists, etc. spent 2003-2008 slamming virtually everything the Bush administration did in the War on Terror, and they vowed that once in power they would undo almost everything, but once safely and overwhelmingly in power they suddenly backtracked. Anyone would be angry.
Take Gitmo. For years they declared that Gitmo was obviously illegal, inhumane, counterproductive, and completely unnecessary. They declared that closing the facility was a no-brainer. Ordinary leftists could certainly be excused for believing that, since they had years to plan, the Democratic leadership had a carefully thought out, detailed plan for closing Gitmo locked and loaded and ready to implement the day they took office.
Well, they didn’t. In fact, once in office they turned around and lectured ordinary leftists on how “complicated” the question of Gitmo was. Suddenly “no-brainer” turned into layers of complications and nuances ordinary leftists just couldn’t possibly understand. Ordinary leftists have every right to feel lied to, betrayed, used, because, quite clearly, they were lied to, betrayed and used.
Ordinary leftwing Americans who believe that Gitmo can and should be closed have every right to expect that, when they vote for politicians who claim to believe the same way, those politicians will follow through once in office. Politicians like Obama, Pelosi and Reid who seriously break faith with their most loyal supporters need to be removed from office by those self-same supporters, not only for the sake of the supporters but for the long-term health of American democracy itself.
America can survive bouts of bad policies. We have in the past, and we have done so because the people have always been able to correct themselves. If we lose the true voice of the people, even those groups of people we personally strongly disagree with, we have lost something far more critical that anything embodied in the policy debates du jour. Nothing is more dangerous than a permanent political class that little answers to the people.
The disdain that Obama et al evince towards their most ardent and idealistic supporters should send a shiver off fear up the spine of every American, because it represents a danger to us all and is not restricted to the left side of the political spectrum. Regardless of political orientation, everyone should be concerned that a powerful group of political leaders feels free to ignore the clearly stated wishes of a large block of the people who elected them.
Ordinary leftists have a greater responsibility to the American experiment than they do to the politics of the moment. If things like socialized medicine really are the best choice for America, we will get there eventually. There is always next year to try for a favored policy, but power once lost to elites may never be recovered. The integrity of the system, protected by true representation, is the greater and more necessary good.
The real lesson of the Tea Party is “clean your own house first.” Leftists need to clean house of the unresponsive elites. As fiscal conservatives have learned, “at least better than the other guys” won’t do in the long run. In the end, it won’t matter if they defeat the “corrupt” or “corporate controlled” Republican party if the Democratic party is composed of unrepresentative elites who answer to no one but their own.
Ordinary leftists have the responsibility to be as willing to attack the pillars of power in the Democratic party as the Tea Party has been to attack the pillars of power in the Republican party.
The left doesn’t need astroturf and political professionals, it needs amateur organization by real people. This is not 1965. The modes of organization have changed. They need to stop relying on centralized, top down, professional organizations like academics, unions and activist groups and instead create decentralized organizations of equals who can drive the change they want to see within the Democratic party.
It is time for the Democratic party to return to its pre-’60s roots, to become not a movement for the common people but a movement of the common people. It will be a hard fight.
Lefties, get to work. America is counting on you.
35 thoughts on “Why the Left Needs Its Own Tea Party”
This is a bizaare comment. It is leftism (i.e., Marxism) that we are primarily fighting, not the GOP. It just so happens that the enablers and opportunists of the GOP has to also be cleaned out, but this is a secondary matter.
You have completely missed the point of the TEA Party movement, and mischaracterize both it and the GOP. You need to review what the TEA stands for.
The last thing we need is for the Left (who are anti-american Marxists, if you need to be reminded) is to organize into “Left wing Tea Parties”. They certainly will not organize anti-tax, anti0big government TEA Parties. You here present a false symmetry.
In any event, the Left has had political action groups aimed at taking over the Democrat Party of since the New Deal, though I would not exactly call them grass-roots as they have been organized in these efforts by hard core and professional Marxist-Leninist operatives of various stripes over the years. They were wildy successful in taking it over.
It is a bizarre formulation you make in almost every aspect of it.
More to the point, America is by no means “counting on the Left”. America must destroy the Left as a political and cultural force in this nation. The Left is one of the most dangerous forces in history, as the carnage of the last century amply proves.
You are very confused about the political history of the last 200 years and the profound damage they have done to this great republic.
Part of the big problem with asking the left to fight the “combine” is that the left has as its central tenets increasing economic centralization, which inherently increases the power of the state, politicians in general, and corrupt politicians in particular.
I hope your post generates the thoughtful comments that it deserves, Shannon, but don’t be too surprised if there are a lot of people like Anonymous who don’t get it.
Of course, in saying that I’m presuming that I “get it” myself. I have enough respect for your opinion that I don’t believe you’re just trolling or being facetious, but maybe your tongue is further in your cheek than I realize.
From an economic perspective, at least, I’m sure that most readers and writers of this site would agree that genuinely leftist policies would tend to be self correcting. That is, any significant political power gained by honest, principled leftists would ultimately be a victory for free market economics. Collectivist economics in the US, without the cooperation of banking interests or other elements of the Ruling Class to hide or clean up after them, would be so spectacularly harmful that the natural result would be to roundly discredit those ideas. Something akin to the Swedish experience, although hopefully less protracted.
And hey, lefties: if I’m wrong, and it is possible to craft some sort of American Social Democracy without utterly destroying the economy and upending the lives of countless honest and decent Americans, both rich and poor, then count me in. If not, well, we did warn you.
On other issues, as you say, Shannon, everyone with a vested interest in the success of representational government will find some areas of common ground. I had plenty of principled objections to the expansion of executive power and economic meddling during the Bush administration, but I also wondered, “What happens the next time the Democrats win the presidency?” Well now here we are, and it’s a fever dream come to life. For a progressive, the ordering of intellectual and visceral revulsion would be reversed, but the taste of bile is probably quite similar.
Of course, any genuine grassroots movement on the left that called out the Democratic establishment even a little bit would inevitably result in attempts from that same establishment to either quash or co-opt it. In the former case, at least some of the participants might wise up to the fact that folks mocking them are the same quislings who now ridicule the “tea-baggers”. On the other hand, if “respectable” journalists and politicians try to make nice with the new movement, then the stink of hypocrisy would be strong enough to wrinkle a lot of noses. Either way, participatory government gets a boost, and the power brokers get a black eye.
It will be especially interesting to see if your post generates any carefully considered response posts or cross-comments from the lefty blogs. I’m not going to hold my breath, at least regarding the “carefully considered” part, but I would be greatly pleased to be proven wrong.
It is easy to bust the left. Make them serious about making government smaller. Tell them to start with the DEA.
And then bust the right. Do you really want a Pregnancy Enforcement Agency?
There would seem to be a fundamental contradiction here: the Left, as it has existed ever since the days of Marx and especially in the present “progressive” era, is all about governance by enlightened elites. Can you have a bottom-up movement demanding top-down rule?
Not sure Leonard Cohen would approve of this use of his words, but I’m reminded of his lines:
I finally broke into the prison
I found my place in the chains
The American has always had a self-organizing, anarchic element to it. The original Anti-War movement was a movement that started outside of the political parties, and took over the left wing of the Democratic party, which was initially hostile to it.
Also, many people on the Left are against corporatism and corporate welfare, and bailouts for the well-connected.
That is common ground for the Anti-Combine forces on both sides.
The original Anti-War movement was a movement that started outside of the political parties
I assume you mean the communist-affiliated anti-war movement of the 60s rather than the communist-affiliated anti-WWI and -WWII movements, which still leaves the question of why you don’t think the communists had any political party in the 60s.
From the not-typically-anticommunist wikipedia:
[The Progressive Labor Party, an offshoot of CPUSA] also founded the university-campus-based May 2 Movement (M2M), which organized the first significant general march against the Vietnam War in New York City in 1964. But once the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) came to the forefront of the U.S. leftist activist political scene in 1965, PL dissolved M2M and entered SDS, working vigorously to attract supporters and to form party clubs on campuses. By 1965 PL had also attracted sufficient membership that it changed its designation from ‘Movement’ to ‘Party’.
Within a few years, PL had become the largest communist faction within SDS and a major player in the student movement’s internal politics.
many people on the Left are against corporatism and corporate welfare, and bailouts for the well-connected
Yes, and their preferred solution to those problems is to liquidate the capitalist running dogs and turn all wealth over to The People. I must not understand your point, because you appear to agree with the critique of people like Bill Ayers that the problem with the modern Democratic party is it’s not Maoist enough.
I think you’ve got your timelines all messed up here. I remember 8 years ago a couple of my lefty grad-student friends were chatting about whether the left should build up a 3rd party (a la the Greens) or work within the Democrat party to pull it further to the left. I sat silently smirking at their delusional thinking that America wanted to be pulled left. But they did it, didn’t they? The 5% of folks that backed Nader (plus a few more percent that had held their nose and voted Gore) took over, their presidential candidate got 53% in 2008, tons of their crazies got elected to Congress (i.e., Stuart Smalley), so who was the delusional one? Now, of course, their president is actually some indeterminate hybrid of leftist true-believer and Chicago machine party hack, and governing is harder than getting elected (can’t keep fooling the flyover state rubes once legislation keeps getting passed), but they got their guy in. The question is what will they do now that their leftist paradise has been held up by the way that the system works (and in fact the system is SUPPOSED to slow things down)?
The Tea Party folks are really in some strange combination of where the left was back in 2002 and in 2008–they aren’t quite sure about where to go in the system, and they’re about to elect many of their chosen candidates. The question is what the next GOP Congress will do. I suspect that there will be continued purges of the GOP old guard in 2012 and even 2014 as need be, since they’re not about to turn around the runaway spending train.
In the end of course, the Tea Party has a massive edge over any would-be leftist imitator in that they can actually honestly run much closer to their core principles than the left can.
The TEA Party is not so much a left, right issue as a Ruling Class, serf thing. The TEA Partiers, mostly politically detached Jacksonians, could have as easily become populist Democrats had their passion been inflamed in 2002. But it happened when the Democrats were in power, so the weak party, ripe for takeover, out of power and in opposition was the Republicans. So they took it over instead. In a decade or so they will once again become detached, after the coming crisis is resolved, and the politically attached will return to power until their abuses again grow too unendurable.
The TEA Partiers, mostly politically detached Jacksonians, could have as easily become populist Democrats had their passion been inflamed in 2002
Historically, most of the people in the Tea Party today would have been Democrats prior to the sixties. Back then it was Republicans who were Ivy League snoots and democrats who were people like the high school educated Truman. Democrats drove pickup trucks and shopped at the eras equivalent of Walmart.
Everything changed in the 60s.
Back then it was Republicans who were Ivy League snoots
Adlai Stevenson? The Brain Trust? Wilson?
I’ve been listening to Progressive radio (post-Air America) for the past few weeks. They do see that their representatives are not representing. But the Progs are already the tea party of the left. As much as the TP is against elites generally, the Progs seem to want better elites in charge.
The radio Progs excuse much of the non-representation as a result of having to deal with evil and obstructionist righties. The only reason their electeds aren’t following through is because those great intentions are being stymied. Prog politicians are seldom held to their own account.
The left probably can’t have a tea party parallel because such a thing is too implicitly individual. The leftoid view is all about surrendering to the communal, which requires elites to define the common good.
That’s a really good point, and quite possibly a deal killer for any prospective Left-Populist movement, now that I think about it. The left’s deeply held belief in a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy is probably a bigger obstacle than any pro-establishment attitudes they might have.
Conservatives and libertarians tend to accept the fact — and it is a scientific fact — that humans are intrinsically flawed when it comes to rational decision-making. There may be vastly different views about the cause: original sin, or an evolutionary history that didn’t prepare us for a large technically specialized society, or whatever, but all of us redish folk generally agree on the reality of the situation.
Modern leftists tend to believe just the opposite: that people are basically good and wise, and the only reason anything ever goes wrong is because a few mean, selfish, superstitious people ruin it for everyone else. The fact that some people are better and wiser just means that they have a greater duty to save the world from the bad, greedy people.
From that viewpoint, it’s hard for progressives to find any real fault with Obama and Pelosi, unless they believe that the Democratic leadership are all deep-cover double agents for Karl Rove and the oil companies. I’m sure there are some on the left that believe just that, but I don’t expect they are going to make any political headway, and they won’t have much common cause with the Tea Partiers in any event.
It’s easier for most leftists to keep looking for the One True Political Messiah, rather than consider the possibility the He or She isn’t coming. Obama doesn’t have to be relegated to the role of Judas; he can be John the Baptist — a voice crying in the wilderness and a martyr for the cause.
How about Democrat moderates and conservatives taking the party back from the “professional” left. They can form their own grassroots organization ala the Tea Party.
I very much agree with the article. I’ve said from the inception of the TP that it was way more of a danger to the Republican Party than to the Democrats. The Democrats will survive a TP onslaught; the establishment Republicans, not so much.
And I wish people like the first commenter would stop with the eliminationist rhetoric that “America must destroy the Left.” We’ll never “destroy” the Left unless you propose genocide or reeducation camps. We still live in a democracy and these Leftists are still my fellow Americans; our goal should be to beat them fairly (and democratically) with superior policies, ideas, and energy.
Heck, we need to encourage the Left to speak out *more*, not less. Every time they speak openly and honestly about their policies, the more Americans move away from them.
Sebits & Foxmarks,
It is true that the left is intrinsically elitists, however, they have occasionally demonstrated an ability to shuck off their own elites. That happened during the 70s as the old New Deal leadership got tossed by the more radical European influenced new Left. Perhaps not a good outcome for the country but it did happen.
Still, I do worry they have gone so far into elitism that they simply can’t imagine a country in which powerful political organizations like professional activist groups and unions don’t dominate leftwing politics. I hope I am wrong.
The problem is in part that the left has decided to be a big tent by including everyone who isn’t conservative, and when you loook at the cast–
-traditional liberals in the FDR/HST/JFK mode
-professional GLBT “victims”
-academics of the debased type we got with grade inflation and no standards
-labor radicals like Andy Stern, esp the public sector unions which parasitize the private sector workers
-professional race/ethnic “victims”
-enablers of race baiters and professional victims
-media idiots with J-school degrees
-idiot teachers with Ed-school degrees
and so on. It’s an almost incoherent bunch, which is why they cannot rationally argue their case–rational argument on almost any issue would lose part of their coalition. So, they just adopt a superior attitude and work by snark and controlling the media.
It would be nice to think the first group could clean out the rest, but I fear at this point the crazies outnumber the sane ones. Maybe because despite what the left and the mediua would have you believe, the GOP and center-right in general are much more inclusive than they were when there was real racial, ethnic, gender and sexual orientation discrimination, all of which pretty much died out in the 1980s. So the left coalition has to be kept alive based on dishonesty at all levels.
It’s a shame because we need a rational, honest left like FDR/HST/JFK–lean towards labor against management, but not insanely so; patriotic in foreign policy; understand that work beats welfare, while defending a safety net for those who need it. But I despair we will see that in my lifetime.
Sorry for rambling.
The key statement, which resonates down to my very conservative Republican core, is “pre-60’s left.” I was born into a liberal/left household, worked for McGovern, tried to join SDS, but it had more or less ceased to be a year before, worked full-time for an Acorn front group, and almost cried (and I am not a crier, to put it mildly) in 1980 when Reagan won and all those lefty senators who I so respected lost.
About 18 months later, I realized Reagan was correct. I changed my voter registration to Republican and have remained conservative ever since.
It wasn’t quite that simple: the indifference of the Left to the Cambodian genocide, the still-bewildering cheerful acquiescence of the Left to the installation of the Ayatollah Khomeini, and the Left’s increasingly open anti-semitism all played a role, but the truth is that I simply recognized that the Establishment Left was just the Establishment.
Intellectually exhausted, the Left has now become completely reactionary: Contempruous and fearful of the middle-class; indifferent to the poor; indistinguishable from the most cynical and disreputable of the wealthy classes: Trial lawyers, Financial manipulators, OPEC money, Private companies dependent on government protection and cash, K Street lobbyists, et al.
Worst of all is the way they’ve completely corrupted the one vital movement the Left still had, Environmentalism, which the Democrat established has turned into its own private gold mine.
Any Leftist who decides to go back to becoming the party of the people will have to do first understand, really understand, what the tea party movement is.
The problem the left has with the Democrat party is that they didn’t use their congressional supermajorities to impose all manner of socialist wishlist items. These are the people who want single payer healthcare, de-recognition of the state of Israel, blanket amnesty for illegal aliens, and Obama’s “civilian defense force” (presumably with gov’t issued red berets and kerchiefs) so they can start knocking heads.
The difficulty with getting their programs enacted has been with the non-insane Democrats who are looking out for their own political skins. If they had gone as far and as fast as the leftist fringe had hoped, the voter resistance the Democrats are now witnessing might be an armed rebellion. They’ve already gotten more hopenchange than the consent of the governed will allow.
The Tea Party does not belong to conservatism — at least not yet. It represents the rise of a potential third movement that opposes the anti-Americanism of both the Left and Right.
For the Left to have its own Tea PArty, it must retain some elements of pro-Americanism.. and that’s where this stupid equivalency collapses of its own weight.
I’m really starting to think that I shouldn’t bother following links to this blog; the thinkers on it are so primitive.
Please please please have the Democrats come out and state what they truly believe as they purge the moderates from their ranks.
Please please please give them the strength to forthrightly proclaim that they do not believe in personal liberty, that they believe the state should control everything, at all times.
“From gay rights to executive power to war to the environment, the left increasingly believes the Obama White House lacks the moral courage to undo Bush’s radicalism. ”
What it shows is that when you are in a position of responsibility and you have all the information Obama has, the correct action is pretty obvious. Obvious to Obama as it was to Bush. The problem is one of leadership in explaining this to the public. How could Obama say, “When you examine the issue carefully and explore all the details and options, what Bush did was pretty much the right thing?” Obama’s official story is that his problems are caused by Bush, when if fact his problems are caused by reality that constrains what an intelligent reasonable person can do.
I detect a whiff of Swift’s “Modest Proposal” in this post. Yes, of course, there might be a world in which sturdy progressives rise up against their own elites. But in this world, they won’t. Because in this world progressives aren’t sturdy and aren’t progressive.
What the left really needs is a reality check of its own. The left needs to look itself in the mirror and admit that it’s wrong about everything it has said, thought or done in the last 60 years. The left is a great destroyer of human happiness and prosperity, and it needs to be stopped. “:Needs a Tea Party movement of its own,”… to do what? Stop itself?
The problem is that no true “progressive” would agree with your statement, “The integrity of the system, protected by true representation, is the greater and more necessary good.” These people don’t believe in the system — in fact, most of them, sufficiently provoked, will admit to hating the system.
One of the experiences that forced me to realize this and drove me right out of a comfortable lifelong liberal/left identity came decades ago, in a New England village that was celebrating the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution. As steeple bells began to ring all over town, a friend beside me — a dedicated leftist and pacifist — stabbed her middle finger furiously into the air. When I reacted, she tried to back off, but what I’d seen could not be unseen. And they don’t like representation either.
As many other commenters have pointed out, an elitist statism is the basic belief that animates all leftists and many liberals. This carries with it a disdainful condescension toward the hoi polloi who vote. How often have you heard a Democrat wonder, faced with a blue-collar voter who incomprehensibly insists on voting for a Republican, “Why don’t they vote in their own interest?” Because, of course, the Democrat knows better what is in the voter’s interest than the dopey voter does himself . . . So, the house-cleaning won’t happen; it would amount to burning down the whole house.
Which is just as well, because you are quite right that if they could purge themselves of their contempt for their country and their fellow citizens, they’d have better luck getting those citizens to do what they’re told.
[Edited for fomatting — Shannon]
What it shows is that when you are in a position of responsibility and you have all the information Obama has, the correct action is pretty obvious.
I agree, however, from the view point of the functional mechanisms of American democracy, it still demonstrates a breakdown in true representation.
The idea that Gitmo should be closed is very widely shared (IIRC nearly half of all Americans think it should be.) The fact that politicians can rise to power and then casually ignore the people they who grant them the moral authority of office is cause for long term concern.
As a practical matter, people who cannot gain representation lose faith in democracy. It’s one thing if your guy can’t win an election, it is another if they win and don’t represent in the least.
Joe Y wrote: “…but the truth is that I simply recognized that the Establishment Left was just the Establishment.”
Meet the new boss..same as the old boss…
The ruling class of either party are no different. The TP and others are cleaning the right’s house and many elites are not happy. Take a look at the hate that is being directed towards Jim DeMint by fellow Republicans.
Those on the left who want to clean house better have very thick skins. The hate will be 10 times as bad, the fight 10 times as hard.
What the left really needs is a reality check of its own. The left needs to look itself in the mirror and admit that it’s wrong about everything it has said, thought or done in the last 60 years.
I agree but the only empirical means of testing ideas is trying to implement them. As long as the left can live in a fantasy world of, “If we could only get the government to do X,” then they will never wake up. They have to honestly try and fail.
As long as they can’t even get politicians to represent them honestly, win or lose in the political debate, they will cling to fantasy.
The problem is that no true “progressive” would agree with your statement, “The integrity of the system, protected by true representation, is the greater and more necessary good.” These people don’t believe in the system — in fact, most of them, sufficiently provoked, will admit to hating the system,
I fear you are correct. In fact, leftists seem to hate everything real. Real systems have imperfections and leftists prefer to live in a world of perfect abstractions. Still, enough of them pay lip service to the ideal that they may still struggle to maintain their representation.
I’ve been listening to Progressive radio (post-Air America) for the past few weeks.
I’m sorry – I can’t stop laughing. At least you’re giving them a ratings boost. The reason the left can’t have a tea party movement is that would require a goal beyond bitching about what other people aren’t doing for you.
Shannon – the term “paleo-progressive” has only 187 hits right now – there’s some interesting reading including some folks who registered the domain name. I think if the term circulated more, some people might find it resonates… TR might find himself reading both HuffPo and Breibart if he were still about…
[I think he was talking about PaleoProgressives.org — Shannon
Like Joe Y above I come from a pre 60s liberal family background – FDR-HST-JFK. I watched with increasing bewilderment as the progressives increasingly took over the Democratic party after 1868.
Involved in Great Society type programs I noticed that these programs didn’t work out very efficiently. I thought the ones I worked on did some good but were not good value for money, and even said so in my reports to the gummint! (Land ‘o Goshen, I was naive!) I didn’t know it but I was becoming a neo conservative on matters domestic.
On the foreign policy side during the Reagan years I discovered to my surprise that I really agreed with George Schultz more than any previous Secretary of State. It wasn’t until the eve of the 91 Gulf War when the debate was raging full on in Congress that I realized how much I disagreed with the antiwar Democrats. It struck me not as principled opposition but less that honorable quibbling before supporting the proposed relief of Kuwait.
I was listening in the car to the Senate debate as I traveled across Nebraska getting madder and madder. Stopping at a rest area I ran into a man of roughly my own age at the restaurant door and both of spontaneously burst out with our disgust at what we were hearing. I guess it was the Jacksonian look in our eyes that gave away that we were stewing about the same thing!
I wasn’t offended by Clinton or his antics – as someone said,”Yes he has character problems, but we knew that when we elected him.” I thought his worst sin was that he damaged the institution of the presidency more than any other president in my lifetime save Nixon. Then we got a choice between Mr. Wooden and Mr. Wooden in 2000. I reluctantly supported Bush mainly because I thought the Democrats needed time to repent of Bill’s sins.
Then came 9/11 and as I watched the anti Bush fever that swept the Democratic party I realized I couldn’t ever vote for a Democrat again. The General Betrayus moment blithely abetted by the NY Times finished me with the left in general but it was when Murtha, a Marine and friend of the military saying that the army was “broken” that I turned on the Democrats with a cold anger that has not abated.
Like many above I doubt that there is enough clarity or will on the left to reform itself. But parts of the old Democratic coalition could well join with the TeaParty if it succeeds in visibly reforming the GOP. I’m thinking of those voters in Appalachia that voted for Hillary and life long pick up driving, Wal-mart shopping Democrats like those in Louisiana who put Bobby Jindal in power.
I don’t know how it will work out, but I think the old politics are finished and i the US the right is in better shape than the left because it has seen the need for reform more clearly. There is a lot of this around the Anglosphere by the way – look at the recent elections in the UK and Australia.
[Edited for formatting — Shannon]
Have any of y’all come across the blog I Want a New Left? (it’s not mine)
Seems relevant to this thread:
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