Nation-Building >> a big tent needs strong poles | return to front page

"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

Add to Google Reader or Homepage Subscribe in Bloglines Subscribe in NewsGator Online Add to netvibes

website stats

Previous Posts
Netflix, Inc.
ThinkGeek T-Shirts will make you cool!
illy coffee - 2 cans, 2 mugs for just $26.

Friday, August 11, 2006

 

a big tent needs strong poles

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, August 11, 2006 permalink View blog reactions
A friend with whom I discuss politics from time to time on email asked me yesterday:

instead of standing with the president on some issues (i think you said "uncritically"), you feel that joe should have "uncritically" followed every single aspect of the democratic "team" platform?


no, not at all - and in fact there are plenty of Dem politicos who take stands opposite to the mainstream and who are in fact celebrated for it. Harry Reid is pro-life, and he is Minority leader. Governor Brian Schweitzer is pro-gun. Tim Roemer (who recently lost his congressional seat to a GOP candidate) is really, really strong on defense. Many other Dem politicos voted just like Lieberman - including Clinton and Kerry! but also many many others too, all of whom never came under fire the way Joe did.

And here's the single reason why. When any of the rank and file Dems disagree with the party on an issue, they say, "I believe in XYZ. I know that there is debate on XYZ within the party, and this is my position. I think that my belief in XYZ is good for my district because ABC..."

When Joe talks about the issue (and here XYZ is understood to primarily be his uncritical acceptance of every single aspect of how the President pursues the war on terror - not just the vote for war, but also every decision made afterwards, and especially the president's nonexistent stance to diplomacy towards our national interests in the Middle East. For more on this, read Djerjian), Joe's disagreement runs more like this:

"I, Joe Lieberman, believe in XYZ, and i think it is shameful that my fellow Democrats disagree with me, and indicates a deeper problem within my party that I am courageously seeking to change. I think that the debate on XYZ within the party is harmful to our national interest and that the debate needs to stop. I think that my belief in XYZ is good for the nation because I am right and the Democrats in general are wrong - I am the "right" kind of Democrat and they are the wrong kind."

Now, you may certainly agree that the Democrats are wrong on issue XYZ. And you may even agree that the debate on XYZ is harmful to the national interest. But what is unconscionable is how Joe uses the rest of what is ostensibly his own party as his foil to advance his political career. He campaigns as a Democrat at the expense of other Democrats. And that's not honorable behavior.

And neither is it smart behavior. By repeatedly casting his own party as in the wrong, every attempt he makes to be "bipartisan" - not just Iraq, but also for example on Social Security privatization, where he repeated the President's false claim that every year we don't "fix" Social Security adds $600 billion to the deficit - gives the President political cover for his own agenda, which is in marked contrast to all the progressive principles that Joe reliably votes for. I am not saying Joe doesn't believe in his votes; I am saying he isn't acting to preserve their meaning. He is a tool, and he doesn't realize it, and in fact believes himself to be righteous for it.

What I expect of both parties' politicos is honor. I want both parties to be diverse in their views but consistent and united in their politics. That is because - when both are correctly in opposition - they represent an important check and balance upon the system. I have argued before that I am against methods like Instant Runoff Voting (which would empower third paries) and abolishing the electoral college on these grounds. I am also for repeal of the 17th Amendment, as many of you well know.

So should a Dem politico be an uncritical follower of the mainstream platform? No. But should they be 1. honorable and 2. smart? Yes. If you want to understand why Democrats voted Lieberman out of office, and voted Lamont in, the above is really the key.

The CT primary wasn't some Rovian plot directed by Daily Kos. This wasn't even a revolution. It was a regression to the way things are supposed to be - a party should choose its elected reps based on their commitment to the party. Only then can those representatives be trusted to vote their ideals.


Discussion

...I think that my belief in XYZ is good for the nation because I am right and the Democrats in general are wrong - I am the "right" kind of Democrat and they are the wrong kind."

Is this not what the "progressive" Democrats over at Daily Kos, MyDD, Seeing the Forest, etc. do on a daily basis? Is this not what Howard Dean was doing when he said he "represent[ed] the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party"?

But what is unconscionable is how Joe uses the rest of what is ostensibly his own party as his foil to advance his political career. He campaigns as a Democrat at the expense of other Democrats.

I can't necessarily say that he is doing it to advance his political career. As I have said before, Lieberman has drifted significantly to the left for quite a long period of time (he was elected as a fairly conservative Democrat who was favorably interviewed by the Heritage Foundation's Policy Review journal back in the 80s). So has Howard Dean, who back in the mid-to-late 90s was considered to be among the most conservative of the New Democrat movement, a movement of which he now completely rejects (he is now the political ally of the "progressive" left); yet, is Dean ever called on this? Have you ever called him on this in the same manner as you have called Lieberman?

I am not saying Joe doesn't believe in his votes; I am saying he isn't acting to preserve their meaning. He is a tool, and he doesn't realize it, and in fact believes himself to be righteous for it.

Is he a tool, or has he simply been voting differently than his speeches would predict because he was afraid of being kicked out of the party by its left-wing? They've had their eyes on him since he lost the election with Gore back in 2000.

The CT primary wasn't some Rovian plot directed by Daily Kos.

Oh yes it was... 2,000 of Lamont's volunteers came from out of state, as he has admitted himself.

a party should choose its elected reps based on their commitment to the party. Only then can those representatives be trusted to vote their ideals.

That's how a parliamentary system would work, but not ours. What it seems that you want is two parties who are so hardened on their positions that they can never look at the center, and I think at that we would have a serious, serious problem.

 

Post a Comment

Archives

View blog top tags
The Assault on Reason

Obama 2008 - I want my country back

I want my country back - Obama 2008

About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.