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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

2008: Flawed Democrats Must Win

Category: Presidential Politics
Posted: 08/24/07 19:13

by Dave Mindeman

Progressives have hard choices to make....and those choices are going to get tougher in 2008. It is frustrating to watch the gains that were made in the 2006 election get watered down in the inevitable political posturing of the election process.

The Red State/Blue State games... the 51/49 election winners.... the swing districts.... the special interests; it is all a muddled mess of subtle, nuanced statements to say as little as possible.

The Iraq War is unpopular, yet so many politicians are afraid to take a principled stand. We have the Blue Dog Democrats uncomfortably waffling. We have Presidential candidates parsing and dissecting their statements into fine dust.

We have two courses of action left:

1. We pressure those in power to do the right thing.
2. We push for full control in 2008.

Course #1 is not working. It has been a maddening, circular process, and the goals have been frustratingly elusive as narrow majorities in Congress sputter and stall their way forward

Disappointing examples:

Tim Walz: The Democratic darling of the 2006 election has succumbed to the jitters of a targeted Congressman. He has opted to play the delicate game of "both sides of the fence".

Amy Klobuchar: Although in less danger than Walz because she is early in her first term, she never-the-less has been reluctant to get tagged as siding with the progressive left, and draws a careful line that allows her to keep claiming a centrist label.

Hillary Clinton: Worried about her "security" credentials, she has placed a film over her liberal roots and muddied her stance on the war. She voted to authorize the start of the war, and then played a game of chicken about voting for renewed funding; voting at the last minute when the decision was already made.

Barak Obama: Touting his credentials about being against the war from the start has spiraled down into the same muddy waters that have engulfed Hillary Clinton. Instead of moving boldly forward with a clear voice for ending the war, he, too, has played the games of "keeping your options open".

Embracing Another Candidate: Of all the other candidates, Dennis Kucinich voices the progressive message clearly and with passion; yet his candidacy gets no traction. The Democratic electorate cannot seem to embrace him as the party standard bearer, even though his message is clear. Progressive Democrats are not rallying around that "message" either, and are concerned about factors of pragmatism -- deep candidate loyalties are obviously in play.

So, Course #1, has problems with those elected... it also has problems with a stalled agenda. The workings of government are complicated and the divisions of the government branches work against any bold policy changes.

The House is hampered by a Democratic caucus which is unified on domestic policy, but fragmented on the War. The Senate is tethered to the cloture rule which gives true power to a 60 vote super majority coalition. Right now, the Democrats have to consider themselves fortunate to chair committees..... as their current majority depends on the whims of Joe Lieberman.

So... we are forced to work for Course #2. That involves some compromises which I do not like... not at all.

It probably means that complete withdrawal from Iraq is all but impossible, for now. If a timid Congress cannot realize that goal, then maybe we have to work on partial withdrawals. Focus on the Joint Chiefs plan to cut forces in half....or John Warner's call for a 5,000 reduction by Christmas. At least some of our soldiers will be out of harms way. Work hard for more, but focus on the achievable.

It also means we must hold on to the current Democratic majority in the House, increase the Senate majority, and most critically, the Democrats MUST take the White House.

Maybe it will mean some compromises that progressives will not like...or be unable to do. Maybe we will have to cringe at some of the policy statements that come from these candidates. Maybe they will still ultimately fail us.

But, the status quo is becoming intolerable. Our current government is plagued with inertia..... unable or unwilling to move.

Only control of all the Houses (Congress and the White one) will change a policy that is in danger of becoming entrenched. If we fail in 2008, the spectre of war will follow us for another decade and beyond.

So, the answer to all of it is this: we must not fail. We swallow hard, accept the acceptable, and we win. It is as simple as that.

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