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Mon

10

Nov

2008

Party Building
Monday, 10 November 2008 19:13
by Stephen P. Pizzo

We should all be well versed by now on the does and don't of nation building. You help the moderates in the country, even if you don't like them, in order to empower them and isolate the radical elements.

Easily said. Hard to do.

Democrats are now faced with the need for some serious party-building — isolating the radicals in the party by embracing the more levelheaded moderates in the party.

Oh wait... sorry. I bet you thought I was talking about Democrats rebuilding the Democratic Party. No. Obama pretty much did that during the primaries and campaign that followed. No, no, no. Democrats need to help rebuild the Republican Party, because if we don't “they” will.

And you know who the “they” are I'm talking about. They are the spawn of Gingrich, Delay, Falwell, Perkins, et al. They are the very forces that made ignorance and intolerance litmus tests for GOP party leadership. They, who took the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ike and perverted it, just as the Taliban perverted Islam, the KKK Christianity and AIG, (et al,) perverted capitalism.

Maybe we shouldn't be just a nation of two parties, but we are. And it's unlikely we are going to become a parliamentary system, which itself is imperfect. So it's Democrats and Republicans, as far as the imagination can conjure. So fixing the badly broken — dangerously broken — GOP should be priority 2 for Democrats.

But why, you ask, at a time when the nation is in such dire straits, should Democrats take the time and make the effort to help the GOP? Why not just let them stew in their own juices? Let Republicans fight amongst themselves over whether to hang their future on the likes of the moron from Alaska in order to appeal to the party's moron base, or to move back toward the center.


And why not just play the next round of political “gotchya” by encouraging GOP fundamentalists so they actually do run someone like Palin in 2012, for all the obvious reasons.

Because, if Democrats go that route they will only sentence us to decades more of the same. More of the boom and bust political cycle, in which one party prevails only because the other over-reached and made a hash of things, to be followed by another power switch, then another, a senseless, non-productive, destructive political see-saw act — plenty of ups and downs, but no forward movement.

The election opened up a rare moment of opportunity to break that cycle, but only Democrats can do it. It begins by reaching to moderate Republicans, some of whom were actually thrown out with the bathwater last Tuesday. By doing so Democrats can play a role in restoring an opposition party made up of men and women of good faith, good intentions, good minds, good character and — maybe most important of all, good manners.

Since the days of Ronald Reagan the Republican party has pandered to America's lowest common denominators, the Joe the Plumbers, Sarah Palins, Tony Perkins types. People who, when having to chose between narrow ideology and the wider common good, always chose narrow over wide. Who, when history, science and data contradict their fondest metaphysical fantasies, decide the only response is to materialize their fantasies by making them into law.

Those within the GOP who had something more than half-frozen tundra between their ears tended to object to the insanity. So, they had to go. Like Cambodia's former fundamentalist rulers, the Khmer Rouge, the GOP fundamentalist systematically purged their party of it's intelligentsia. Some of the last remaining conservative thinkers escaped during the recent Presidential race. Those who remain have been either beaten into submission or learned to grunt the party line with the worst of them.
“The enthusiasm generated by Palin shows that the party intends, wittingly or not, to replicate not just Bush's policies but his whole operating style. She is the most Bush-like figure conceivable. Jeb Bush would be a far more dramatic departure from the incumbent than her. Her utter lack of interest in policy, her obsession with certitude ("you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission"), her folksiness masking incoherence — all reflect the style of The Decider. The way Palin filled her government with grossly unqualified high school cronies eerily apes even the Bushian qualities that many conservatives have come to regret.” (Jonathan Chait, The New Republic.) (Full Article)

And that's why we Democrats need to put aside all our stored up animus towards the GOP and actually embrace moderate Republicans. We need to do this for the same reasons we've embraced Maliki in Iraq and Karzai in Afghanistan. Not because they are perfect, or because we agree with them, or because we think they have the right solutions most of the time — or any of the time. But because if we don't the alternative is worse — far worse.

So, as we get ready for the coming Democratic Party resurgence, beware of two things: Neo-liberals, and forcing GOP moderates to fend for themselves.

You and I know who I'm talking about when I refer to “neo-liberals. They are the flip side of the neo-conservative coin.

  • Neo-conservatives created a welfare state for the rich.

  • Neo-liberals would replace that with a welfare state for the un-rich.

  • Neo-conservatives created a "you're on your own” society.

  • Neo-liberals create a “we won't leave you alone,” society.

  • Neo-conservatives treat working Americans the way ranchers treat their livestock — something to be fed, but not over-fed, and moved around when circumstances require. (Stampedes are to be avoided at all cost. Nov. 4th, for example, was a stampede. Neo-cons hate it when their herd runs off on its own like that.)

  • Neo-liberals believe they treat ordinary Americans with more “respect.” Trouble is too often that respect bears an annoying resemblance to the way pre-school teachers treat their wards.


(Remember how VP Al Gore used to talk to us — like Mr. Rogers.)

  • Neo-conservatives see liberals as being either gay, atheists, socialist, welfare recipients, wimps or all the above.
  • Neo-liberals see conservatives as either money-grubbers, racists, sexist, homophobic, warmonger, laissez faire capitalist, offshore money hiders — or all the above.
  • Neo-conservatives believe government is the source of every problem plaguing Americans.
  • Neo-liberals believe government is the solution to every problem plaguing Americans.
  • Neo-conservatives believe that every child should be issued a permit to pack a concealed weapon, at birth.
  • Neo-liberals believe that every gun in private hands should be melted down and formed into a giant sculpture of dolphins and whales frolicking in the surf with small laughing children.
  • Neo-conservatives believe illegal immigrants should be herded out of the country with cattle prods — unless they are one of the illegal immigrants mowing their lawn or cleaning their home(s).
  • Neo-liberals believe there's no such thing as an illegal immigrant, just undocumented future Democratic voters.
  • Neo-conservatives believe that it's the government's job to make sure big businesses, and those who run them, get as much government help as possible, in the form of reduced regulation and oversight to overly generous tax breaks.
  • Neo-liberals believe that corporations are cows, whose udders should be super-glued to a high-suction IRS milking machine.   Extremists are the real enemies within each party. And right now conditions are perfect for those extremists.
  • Neo-liberals will see the election as a mandate for all things liberal. They will see the collapsing economy as proof of capitalism's failure. Nonsense. Capitalism works, but only when the cops on that beat (regulators) do their damn jobs and those who break the rules don't get bailed out but jailed in.
  • Neo-conservatives will see the collapse of their party's former ruling majority as an opportunity for another Gingrich-like beer hall putsch to purge the last of their party's thinkers. Then with those naysayers out of the way, give their media propaganda outlets, Fox, Limbaugh, etc, the green light to whip up the Joe The Plumber types for the next round of culture war-races just two years from now.

Nation building, party building — two peas, same pod. It's our choice. We can be small and petty in victory, or magnanimous. If we choose the first we get a short-term rush and a long-term crash. If we choose the second we create a chance of getting back a government that can actually govern.

Yes, we can. (Yes we'd better.)
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