Is that too much to ask?

March 20th, 2006 – 10:32 pm
Tagged as: Politics

I’m long past the days when I thought that the Democrats, as a party, were anything other than the lesser evil. I don’t expect that, even if they were to regain power, there’d be any real change to the neoliberal system that they and their corporate friends have helped build over the past decades. Still, I’ve always assumed that at least some of the disadvantaged and downtrodden in this country (and maybe around the world) would be a little better off with the Democrats in power than they are with the Republicans controlling the American government.

That’s why I find it so frustrating that the Democrats seem to be doing everything they can to never regain their status as the majority power.

As digby recently said:

*sigh* How many more years are we going to hear this tired nonsense from establishment pundits before people wake up and realize that ever since the Democrats took on this appeasement strategy they have been losing. I have written before that I was an enthusiastic New Democrat at one time — embracing all the stuff about modernizing politics and marginalizing the “crazies” and creating a new, technocratic party where our “competence” would so dazzle the population that we could set aside all that unpleasant passion and ideology and just simply run the government “the smart way.” Man, did I like the sound of that.

There was only one little problem, after we were done patting ourselves on the back for being more brilliant than everyone else in the room, the Republicans beat the crap out of us over and over again. And over time that vision has been whittled down to a belief that if we just wait them out, the country will wake up and realize that we aren’t really worse than the other guys so don’t make waves.

The conventional wisdom in DC has now ossified into a reflexive notion that Democrats must do nothing. Ever. They must hold back and say nothing when the Republicans are on top and they must hold back and say nothing when they are on the ropes.

Matt Stoller of MyDD notes:

First, let’s speak politics. It’s clear that the Republicans have a turnout advantage, and especially in a base election like 2004, the middle does not vote. Even in 2004, which was not a base election, only 4.7% of voters switched their choice of candidate. 2006 will be an election where getting out the base is decisive. Now, I know the polls say that Republicans are demoralized. But this is a temporary phenomenon. The Republican operatives are reading the same damned polls and are making plans to fire up their base. And unlike us, they don’t have much trust to regain, because they have largely satisfied their base over the past five years. At the end of the day, Republicans bitch and bitch and bitch about their leadership and then they. turn. out. That’s the GOP model. They will be organized, they will be effective, they will be targeted. We simply cannot afford to assume this will fall into our laps by ignoring the very real demoralization within our own base.

And even Markos is starting to say:

I was ridiculously optimistic the last two cycles, and saw that optimism shattered on election night. Democratic early numbers in both 2002 and 2004 were great. Not this great, but pretty darn good. And we saw how well the GOP closed. I don’t take anything for granted anymore. And in fact, I assume they can make huge gains in the final days of an election. Add in the general sense of malaise that currently seems to inflict the Dem base, and I’ve got a bad feeling about this election.

Not that we won’t make gains, because it’s hard to see how we can’t. But we won’t make the sorts of gains that we should be expecting given how bad things are for the GOP.

What good is an opposition party, even one that has far too much in common with the ruling party, if it can’t win elections and actually do anything to change the course of the country? It’s bad enough that we’re currently stuck with a two-party system in which we get to choose between the right-wing party and the center-right party, but is it too much to ask that the center-right party actually do something? Or is asking it to move to the left and actually represent its base, rather than just the corporations that fund its campaigns, too much?

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