Quick Note to the Haters

The health bill passed. Awesome.

First, read this piece about the Republican Party by NY Times commentator Bob Herbert. It sums up just about everything I loathe about them - the fear and hate-mongering, the insane combination of "war solves problems" and "less taxes for the rich at the same time," the paranoid-schizophrenic fear of regulation.

Second, there's the predictable critical bit by the Tenured Radical (author of the funniest and most readable blog by an academic I know of.) Yes, yet again, the dems made big concessions on abortion in the name of political expediency.

That the right is going to be frothing at the mouth and predicting apocalypse is a given. What I'm not looking forward to is the reaction of the (far?) left. Every time Obama makes strategic concessions, the left freaks out and pretends he's just another stooge, another lapdog of capitalism, another variation on the same theme that brought us W. This outlook is insane. Things are already so much better than they were from 2000 - 2008; we can and should be critical of concessions, but we should also keep in mind how far to the right "the center" actually is in American politics. For my money, the only thing I really blame Obama for is not playing dirtier and burying the republicans at every step; they've already proved they're going to do the same every time.

My current interest in politics was really born in 2000: put simply, if Gore had won (or, rather, if his win had been legally recognized), the world would be a much better place today. There would not have been an Iraq war and it's likely the fight in Afghanistan would have been "won" years ago, since millions of disaffected Muslims wouldn't have learned to hate and blame America from the Iraq invasion. The economy would probably still be broken, thanks to the long-term trend of speculation driving growth, but income would be more sanely distributed than it was under Bush. In short, it's naive and counterproductive to claim that the dems and the republicans are the same animal; the lesser of two evils is so much less evil, we have to support it.

And, finally, can you think of a single instance from history in which the business of mass politics was not complex, messy, and based on compromise?


ransom said...

Well said, and after hearing some things I've been thinking better-phrased, I feel less worried about thinking them.

Related only by the notion of messy and complicated politics, it turns out that one of my favorite web development reference sites also has a section on Dutch politics. Apparently, the Dutch feel they need at least nine parties to adequately represent them.

I'm only wondering how misguided it is to read that guide in an attempt to learn more about our own mess...

first thing said...

Not to be the obligatory wet blanket here, but I'm not so sure things are all that much better now than in 2000-2008: Sure, Obama is much smarter and a better politician, but last I remember the US military is still in Iraq (and the political discourse coming from the white house now is that it is the right decision to stay there); we are still fighting the war in Afghanistan, with no end in sight (Obama campaigned on this being "the right war," though if I remember correctly, we are still fighting an ideology more than anything else, and son Pakistan will be involved-- some say they already are); healthcare reform passed (which is good), but not only might it still be repealed, the rancorous political discourse that has arisen is showing no signs of letting up. In fact, I would predict that we will find a lot more politicians who identify with Tea Party people in congress, which just might destroy any hope of meaningful legislation passing in the next 2-4 years.

I do agree that Obama is a much better and smarter leader than George W. Bush, but I look at the disparity between where Obama said he would lead us and where he is actually going quite worrisome. For instance, Rahm Emanuel said on the Healthcare debate that the best track was to ignore the Progressives and they would fall in line when the vote came. He ended up being right about that. It makes me wonder whether there is any point in being a progressive at all; I'm beginning to think that there isn't.

As far as change goes, we still have to contend with our current administration defending ALL of the Bush-Cheney torture and terrorist detention policies in federal court (read Glenn Greenwald over the past two years for more on this), in addition to being in at least two foreign countries fighting for thoughts and abstract political ideals, which historically has never ended well.

I'm not ready to call Obama a lapdog for capitalists, but I am concerned about how little substantial change there has been under his administration after he ran on a platform of change for almost two years on the campaign trail. I find myself running on hope myself these days, but change? Not so much.

I still hold out hope that there is a better option out there. I guess I'm just not ready to give up yet. Democrats are indeed way less evil than republicans. But I like to think that it is possible to live in a country where I can make a choice that isn't evil at all. (and that might be the most delusional thing I have said thus far, but hey-- where would we be without "hope" or "change"?)

I guess this is a long comment, huh? Sorry about that.

kungfuramone said...

Yep. Longer than the blog post. But who's counting?

Chrissy said...

Amen! Although, I do have to say that I am disappointed that Obama hasnt had as much balls in the white house as he did on the campaign trail. We voted for him because we wanted change and I know thats easier said than done, I just wish he'd stand up for us more. We elected him because we trusted his judgment and believed in his positions on critical issues. It jsut seems like everyone in Washington is way to caught up in trying to please each other when they need to be focused on pleasing us, the American people.