It Bears Repeating, Though
Whether it’s rewriting the tax code or privatizing Social Security to solve an imaginary “crisis,” the right has become the agent of change.
In contrast, the left has become — there’s no other word for it — reactionary.
Still unable to accept that the right has dominated our national life for the last quarter-century, the left hasn’t done the hard, slow work of thinking through what it means to be progressive during an era of ultraglobalized capitalism in which the only successful Democratic president in the last 35 years, Bill Clinton, followed policies that even he compared to Dwight Eisenhower’s. Far from proposing bold new ideas that might seize the popular imagination, the left now plays the kind of small-ball that Dubya disdains. Even worse, it’s become the side that’s forever saying “No.”
There’s more to the piece than merely that, but that’s the heart of it.
But back in May of 2003, Mike at Feces Flinging Monkey had already identified, dissected, and described the problem with the Democratic Party: They’re The New Conservatives.
I’m serious. Take a quick look at their big domestic issues now:
Don’t weaken abortion laws.
Don’t weaken affirmative action laws.
Don’t weaken the public school system.
Don’t weaken the unions.
Don’t weaken welfare.
Don’t weaken environmental laws.
Don’t weaken gun control laws.
Don’t weaken liability laws.
Don’t weaken Medicare.
Don’t weaken Social Security.
Don’t get too far into debt.
And of course, stop taking so many chances overseas.
There is no innovation here, no new plan or new future, nothing bold or risky or daring. It’s a gigantic holding action. The only real change ever discussed is an increase in scale, an increase of quantity rather than kind. You can run the same speeches from the 1980 race and nobody would notice the difference.
What about real reform, new ideas that might work or that might not? School vouchers, tort reform, individual Social Security accounts, eliminating subsidies, basing affirmative action on need rather than race – these are big ideas, things that just might take off and really work out well. These are not illiberal ideas, but they challenge the status quo and the Democrats generally oppose them.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the Republicans are not exactly great innovators either, but they are supposed to be conservative. When these folks are beating you at the new ideas game, you know you got some serious problems.
Democrats claim (sincerely, I believe) to be devoted to the interests of the least among us, but in practice they seem devoted primarily to the status quo. Sure, our schools suck, but don’t innovate; sure, Social Security is going broke, but don’t change it; sure, lawsuits are eating us alive, but don’t alter the rules of the game. In each case we are told it is unproven, it is too risky; this is the language of the conservative. The actual effectiveness of any program is always secondary to maintaining the stability of the program.
And he’s right. Read the whole thing. As John Powers states, the Democratic Party has “become the side that’s forever saying, “No.” And as someone else noted, George W. Bush is quite possibly the best Democrat President this country has seen since Truman.