Stupid, Cowardly, Incompetent or Lying? or: Being a Democrat isn't Really So Hard
So my job is the push the new administration "from the left," if my blogging can said to have a constructive purpose. It's always fun to read more popular bloggers when they get snarky and angry in the way I'm prone to be most of the time, as I review the proposals and behaviors of the new administration. No one here is shocked by the already numerous "disappointments" from the administration, but I do wonder how long the majority in this country is going to keep giving Obama high approval ratings. I also wonder if getting punked by Republicans is a successful strategy in the effort to keep them high.
To me, it's completely obvious: no Dem administration is ever going to get more than a handful of Republicans to go along with anything that Dems propose. Republicans oppose Democratic initiatives, always. And the rare times when they don't oppose something the Dems propose, it's because they better understand the deep strategies and gamesmanship, and how to play the 'fake' of temporary support followed by later opposition. But expecting widespread Republican support for any Democratic initiative is just plain stupid. And ignorant of recent history. And perhaps cowardly, and incompetent.
The only place that the new administration needs to focus its love of "bipartisanship" is in the Senate. And frankly, the whole "post-partisan/bi-partisan" strategy is a foolish one, even there. A smarter strategy would be to identify electorally weak Republican members of the Senate, and use executive authority to pressure them to go along with key Democratic initiatives when there is the need for the few extra votes. Really, it's quite simple.
If the new administration wants anyone intelligent to believe that they are truly members of the Democratic party, and not the "Unity" party, it's relatively straighforward, in terms of what they should do.
-ignore the media, (unless they want to bring back something like the Fairness Doctrine, which I'm all for) which at this point is a wholly-owned creature of entities completely hostile to Democratic Party platform goals and aims
-don't bother to grant all but a few of the least significant legislative compromises to Republicans in the House, perhaps a few more in the Senate
-rally and sustain liberal electoral support with progressive policies that aren't just politically smart, but good for the economy (which is true for most progressive policies)
-keep Republicans off-balance with much needed investigations and restructuring of Federal offices, which serves the health of the Constitution at the same time
I don't really expect any of this from new administration, and indeed I expect a lot of the opposite. But I just felt like expressing as simply as I can, that "it's not that hard" to be a real, liberal Democrat right now. The Administration is enjoying popularity at the polls, the party isn't doing to badly in terms of fundraising, and the nation as a whole is ready for real "change," in addition to the musical teevee kind.
One thing I'm very sure about: if the Obama administration continues to act like members of the Unity Party, it will be responsible for significant Dem losses in the House and Senate in 2010, and risk a very real chance of becoming a one-term failure by 2012. In the spirit of "it's the economy, stupid" the bi-partisan proposals that please Republicans (tax cuts, deregulation, endless military spending) are exactly what got us into the mess, and will only exacerbate our situation further if allowed to continue/be increased. Again, this isn't rocket science, it's a simple review of the recent history of economic policy and the results.
Update: No lesser a light than former Obama administration official Lux agrees with me:
At the end of the day, the progressive things Obama wants to do will be strongly opposed by the vast majority of Republicans. Rebuilding the economy from the bottom up, fundamentally reforming healthcare so all Americans can get reasonably priced coverage, transforming the energy economy so that we save ourselves from the worst consequences of global warming, allowing unions a fair shot at organizing, and many of the other things Obama wants to do will all be opposed by 90%+ of the Republican party and conservative movement. We already see it in the reaction from Boehner and McConnell and all of the conservative columnists Obama had dinner with the other night to his economic recovery package, even though Obama has made it smaller and put more tax cuts into it than most progressives think make sense. Making the substantive changes that actually make all of the above policy goals possible will require rejecting conservative ideas and going forward boldly where they can't follow. Key to actually achieving real healthcare reform, for example, is giving all Americans the option of joining the same public plan members of Congress get, but including that option will lose you most Republican votes. Making the massive public investments in transforming out energy economy will never be supported by most Republicans, nor will placing a tight cap on carbon emissions that isn't chock full of loopholes. 95% of Republicans will violently oppose any easing of union organizing rules. Reaching out to conservative Republicans symbolically, personally, and rhetorically can strengthen Obama for the tough political battles ahead, as long as he understands that to get the important things done that we need to achieve, they will still oppose you on virtually everything that really matters.
Again, this is just simple logic and a review of recent history.