Latest Threads
Latest
Greatest Threads
Greatest
Lobby
Lobby
Journals
Journals
Search
Search
Options
Options
Help
Help
Login
Login
Home » Discuss » Journals » Alcibiades » Read entry Donate to DU
Advertise Liberally! The Liberal Blog Advertising Network
Advertise on more than 70 progressive blogs!
Alcibiades's Journal
Posted by Alcibiades in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Nov 06th 2008, 10:50 AM
why did Carter lose in 1980? It was not simply the hostage crisis, but also because squabbling in the party crippled his ability to lead from the White House, squabbling that led to a bitter primary fight between Carter and Ted Kennedy. Though he had a solid Democratic majority, much of Carter's domestic agenda was hampered by an unwillingness of Congress to accept leadership from the White House. as a consequence, Carter looked ineffective, which, coupled with the hostage crisis, sealed the fate of his presidency. Reagan's victory also enabled Republican senatorial candidates to ride his coattails, giving them a majority in the Senate in the 97th Congress, a majority they maintained until the 100th Congress was sworn in in 1987.

A similar story happened in the administration of Bill Clinton. Whatever the faults of the Clinton administration itself, the blame for the failure of Hillary Clinton's health care initiative can be laid squarely on Congress. They should have pursued it through, which would have given Clinton a major legislative success and reason for folks to vote Democratic in 1994. Instead, Democrats in Congress chickened out because they were afraid of losing their seats due to an uproar manufactured by an aggressive ad campaign. Their complete capitulation did not prevent them from losing their seats anyway.

So, what have we learned? Should we follow recent history, and let squabbling between different parts of our party doom this opportunity to failure, or should we follow a different path? Yes, it is not inevitable that we succumb to squabbling and failure. There is a different model, that suggested by the presidencies of every successful modern president, and that is presidential leadership. It worked for FDR, for Kennedy and LBJ, and even for Reagan, and it can work for us, too. This means that Congress and Democratic Party activists need to get behind President Obama's agenda, and do it pronto. We need not let ideological purity or any other thing stand in the way of our so doing. This isn't a choice between half a loaf and no loaf, it's a choice between half a loaf and a sharp stick in the eye. If Obama is seen as a failure, we might well lose control of at least one house of Congress in two years, and the presidency two years after that.

We will not establish a new, enduring majority in this country by implementing everything we, as liberals and progressives, want, all at once. Push through a lot in the first 100 days, by all means, but understand that. Ideologically, our nomination of Obama shows us where we, as a party, need to be if we want to prevent the ruin of our nation: competent, relatively centrist, but in support of all the litmus test issues that the liberal base really cares about: abortion, affirmative action, LGBT rights, the environment, peace, and, above all (for me, at least) social justice. I'd like to institute single-payer health care for all, shrink the military to the size it was before WWII, make our tax system more progressive, institute nationwide marriage equality, enact true comprehensive immigration reform including citizenship, enact tougher environmental standards across the board, protect Roe v. Wade and affirmative action with constitutional amendments, and much more. We can do some of these things, starting on January 21, 2009. But if history is any guide, the only way we will be able to accomplish all of this is incrementally.

My guy in the primary (before he withdrew) was John Edwards, who I thought was the more electable of the two real progressives in the race. I concede to the greater wisdom of the folks who backed Obama from the start, and made my peace with Obama about two days after Edwards withdrew. If our party is to be led from the center of the Democratic Party (as it almost always has been historically, BTW), then why not by someone who is not only personally charismatic, but also competent, and someone who values competence in those who work for him? If that is the accommodation liberals and progressives have to make, if the alternative is losing and handing the nation over to rabid zealots who have run the place into the ground, then it's one most of us should make happily. If what it takes to get RFK Jr. is Emanuel, then I'm happy--there's a place in our party for both sorts of Democrats.

What we need to do now is to unite America, but we cannot do that without uniting the party. Some have suggested that the Republican Party "purge" itself of extremist ideologues. A better path, and I think the one this president will chart, is to make our party the party of bipartisanship, shaving off social moderates and re-branding our party as the responsible, respectable party of moderation, competence, fiscal discipline and, yes, social progress for all. Invite the Chuck Hagels and Colin Powells, and the voters who are of like mind, into our party and we will forge an enduring majority in the electorate for a generation.

Footnote: There is one exception to this call for party unity: Joe Lieberman. For the former Vice Presidential nominee of our party to endorse the Republican for president is simply unacceptable, and his threats to defect to the Republicans when our party needed him are also inexcusable. He should not only be stripped of every committee chairmanship and subcommittee chairmanship, he should be reassigned to sit only on the least important committees and subcommittees.
Discuss (15 comments) | Recommend (+3 votes)
Blogroll
Greatest Threads
The ten most recommended threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums in the last 24 hours.
Visitor Tools
Use the tools below to keep track of updates to this Journal.
 
Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals  |  Campaigns  |  Links  |  Store  |  Donate
About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.