A 2006 polemic

“Election 2006: For Whom the Bell Tolls”.

An excellent mix of righteous anger.

“The Founding Fathers were right: they knew America, this land we love, this land we share, the land of freedom and democracy was based on timeless truths that were so brilliant and profound because they were so simple and so right.”

4 thoughts on “A 2006 polemic

  1. That’s a fun read. However, it follows the exact kind of black-and-white thinking that put W in power to begin with. The two party system of Republicans and Democrats makes people vote for people they despise. The article tries to blame all the American evils of the past six years on W and the GOP, but that is an oversimplification. Worse, it suggests ignorance (or tolerance) of the complicitness of the Democratic party and of the American people in general.

    The on-going success of the GOP is as much to do with the failures of the Democratic party as with Karl Rove. The author is right when he says that the Bush administration has stood for Big Government and Big Spending, but the Democrats stand for the same thing. Those in power, want more power, not less. Bush touted school vouchers, but we got No Child Left Behind instead. That sucks, but what sucks worse is that there is not much of an alternative. That’s what keeps the GOP viable.

  2. Michael,

    Democrats may “stand for” Big Government, Big Spending, etc. according to Conventional Wisdom, but the facts beg to differ with this statement. Democrats, when in power, have done better to balance the budget than Republicans.

    As for the Democratic Party “stand for the same thing”, that’s a bullshit Right Wing frame foisted upon you by reporters too lazy to exert any mental energy on the topic. (Or are we going to continue to argue that “Abrahamoff donated to both parties” and other such nonsense?)

    The Democratic Party has historically been bad at articulating what they stand for because of the “big tent” philosophy of the 1960’s. Their long-standing dominance of the legislature meant there was no need to get creative with wedge issues and instead had to work on compromise, even during the height of the civil rights movement—certainly their “peak” power.

    You see a similar misstep in strategy when you hear some of their prominent members talk “triangulation”. Hillary Clinton may triangulate on social issues and the War on Iraq, but I still know where she stands. The important thing to note is the distinction between the Hillary Clinton or Joe Lieberman and the Democratic Party. It is clear, when they do espouse their views, that they have broken with their party (and most of the country).

    Similarly, while I take exception to the actions of Diane Feinstein on issues of defense spending, does that mean that the Democratic party is “complicit” with these evils or that she personally is? Given who her husband is and the number of constituents in Orange and Santa Clara counties who are dependent on such corporate welfare in the form of defense spending, I think it’s the latter.

    You see similar things in the GOP. Border Republicans (Arnold Schwartzneggar, George Bush, Jeb Bush, John McCain) take a tolerant view about immigration—much like Feinstein on defense spending, this coincides with the demographics of their constituents. Does that mean their party doesn’t stand for anything because its most prominent members don’t support building a wall and deporting all the Mexicans?

    No, it is clear which “side of the fence” these Republicans are on, even if on that issue they are not on the same side as most of their party. The fact that people confound those things in their mind is all part of the rational that keeps them checking the (R) in their ticket.

  3. I think your statement about Democrats balancing the budget is short-sighted. Sure when Clinton was in office, there was a budget surplus. Do you really think Clinton had much to do with that? You only have to go one Democratic president back, Jimmy Carter, to see a different situation. Was stagflation all Jimmy Carter’s fault? No, but similarly the budget surplus of the late 90’s cannot be credited to Clinton.

    So does any of this determine where Democrats stand on balanced budgets? I think not. However, Democrats certainly favor government spending albeit on “social” programs. I’m not saying such programs are or are not justifiable, just that the Democratic party has stood for such things for a long time. Look at the Democratic Party in California and how they have regulated the price of electricity. This is Big Government at its worst. Ok, maybe Big Defense is even worse, but that doesn’t make government “progroms” desirable.

    Per “stand for the same thing”… It’s not that all Democrats stand for the same thing. Neither do all Republicans. However, the two party system grinds away these differences. That’s why you have Republicans who hate all the spending being done by W, but they still vote for it. Similarly you might have Democrats who hate minimum wage, unions, welfare laws, Social Security, etc. but they will still have to support it in the end.

    Per Feinstein, etc. It’s not that I find the Democratic Party complicit just because of Feinstein’s actions, I find the American people complicit. The American people wanted war and they got it. They want to blame it all on Bush now, and I hate Bush as much as the next person. But the truth is that the ignorant racist in every person who at one point wanted to “shock and awe” must be held accountable, too. That definitely includes the Democratic Party and their lack of objections to the Iraq resolutions. We the people wanted to initiate war on a sovereign nation because we were pissed about 9/11 and wanted to bomb some Arabs.

    Don’t be an apologist for the Democratic Party (or anybody else,) it does not become you.

  4. Mike,

    I’m not apologizing for the Democrats (whom I could care less). I’m just attacking the horrible and well-discovered Right Wing frame that forms the substitute of the facts in your comments.

    Right wing frame: moral relativism

    Recent examples: “More people died in Vietnam”, “WW2 vets committed worse atrocities”, “Democrats are just as guilty”

    The importance of this frame is that unlike the Democrats, the Republicans realize that modern elections are not won based on what a majority feel but based on getting people active enough to vote.

    This is one of the earliest frames which I fell for—I didn’t vote in 2000 because “both candidates are basically the same.” Clearly they were not, they were just cast that way. It is why abortion and illegal immigration are big issues again in the midterm election.

    Pull up the polling data on a state and local level and you will see why these wedge issues “work” on those levels when they don’t work on higher ones.

    Pull up psychological data which shows that people make a decision and then look for evidence that fits that decision. “Bush’s stand on abortion and gay marriage shows to me that he values families. And besides, the two candidates are basically the same on the issues, so I’m going to pick the one who values families because that is important to me.” That’s how a lot of people I know ended up voting for Bush in the last election, despite the fact that the he never values families (“Giving a shit about families? That’s what democrats are for.“) and that even on the wedge issue of abortion or gay marriage he only cares about that during midterm elections and half-heartedly at best (“A Republican friend of Bush recently said, “Bush doesn’t give a **** about gay marriage.”).

    Democratic triangulation falls victim into this trap. It is no surprise really. As I’ve said time and time again, the smartest polticially active people of my generation were all young Republicans.

    The shocking thing is that a form of transparency is developing to this sort of thing. This is what the polemic is about. It’s claim is that the American people now see the man behind the curtain (and it’s not Bush, Dick Cheney, or Karl Rove per se).

    And your attack?

    “Democrats are just as bad and they spend more.”

    The former is just a frame and the latter is provably wrong. If you are going to back your frame, use facts, not conventional wisdom such as this:

    But what about “Clinton just benefiting from the boom” (What about Reagan “just benefiting” from Paul Volcker?) What about Carter‘s stagflation? (How about the fact that total debt only increased 9%/year under him vis-a-vis Bush?)

    What next? “But we’re at war?” Am I going to have to bring a mountain of evidence showing that tax cuts are far more responsible for our runaway debt than the war? The mountain of evidence that “trickle down” economic theories are wrong. (Heck, even Reagan himself ended up having to raise taxes twice in his 8 years as president.)

    Here is another one:
    The american people are to blame because the “two party system grinding away differences.”

    It’s the same relativism. Sure, parliamentary systems are better at empowering the minority voice, but we’ve had a two party system in various forms for two centuries without disaster!

    Besides it flies in the face of the facts: Party identification (on both sides of the aisle) is stronger than it has ever been. Just look it up the voting records in Congress and the Senate over the last 50 years.

    Wake up and smell the reality: the differences have never been more pronounced than it has today.

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