Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hippy Punching

There's a lot of hippie punching going on on the internets today.

TBogg has some.  Booman's thread has become one.

I don't usually comment on blogs, because it's mostly shouting at the wind.  But I feel strangely compelled to address the Purity Progressives.

I don't think TBogg is right that holier than thou Naderites cost Democrats elections by staying home.  But they may contribute to the fallacy that both parties are to blame, so there is that.  If you honestly believe that there isn't much difference between the two parties, then you are either ignorant or your perspective has shifted so far to the left or right that the parties seem identical from that distance.

So Purity Progs scream and yell about drones and the NSA, as if they are the same things as Iraq and TIA.  They aren't.  In type they are roughly similar, but in degree they are widely disparate.

And change rarely happens in the quick, clean way that Purity Progs seem to desire.  The US system relies on evolutionary, not revolutionary, change.  So we get ACA without a public option.  I would be surprised if we didn't have a public option in 15-20 years.  And I think we will see an increasing number of Americans insured by the government.  By the time my own actuarial table expires, I expect America will have something similar to single payer, though with private features.

Now, the "hippies" are important because they keep agitating for a public option and increasing numbers of Americans covered by Medicaid and Medicare.  The role of the Left is to draw the parameters of the debate in the direction they wish to see it go.

But if you get all pouty and petulant because Obama killed Anwar al Awlaki with a drone, then you are missing the broader historical significance of what he is trying to do.

Part of the real success of the GOP is that they have managed for years to pander to their Right Wing with rhetoric, while only fulfilling the economic aspects of the Rightist agenda.  True, they will appoint judges that uphold social conservative positions, but Bush didn't pass a law to outlaw abortion.

The GOP could be headed for a fracture, because that right wing - the Tea Party - is tired of feeling dissed.  And the very inelectability of a national Republican right now is because they have to campaign from the Right before they can campaign Center-Right.

If Democrats were to stake out positions on the Far Left, some would be popular: raising the minimum wage, a public option, leaving Afghanistan yesterday.  But there are also some that would be toxic: large scale disarmament, a heavier tax load that would allow for more redistribution, a ban on domestic hydrocarbon production.  It is worth noting that Obama has started to stake out more left wing economic positions.

The job of the "extreme" wings of the party is to influence policy, with the understanding that that influence can take a generation to pay off.  That's the only way change works in America.

It has taken a generation for same sex marriage to go from being a small minority position to being a marginally majority position, on its way to become a sizable majority position.  In 1994, this was a far-out position; in 2004, it was a wedge issue benefiting Republicans; in 2014 it's on its way to being the law of the land.  LGBT activists pushed this issue, but didn't sit out 2008, because Obama only embraced civil unions.  They voted for him, kept pushing and he "evolved".

That's how you change American politics and policies.  You play the long game.

Otherwise, you're as naive as a child.

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