Sunday, November 05, 2006

Taking the Swing Votes, and Holding them

Posted by Cardozo

“We have to be careful about sour grapes. The current result of American democracy (though this may change on Tuesday) is Republican control of the presidency, both houses of Congress and (undeniably by now) the federal courts. And that, in turn, has produced policies that, unless I badly misjudge the demographics, most readers of The New York Times Book Review don’t care for: unjustified tax breaks for the rich, a miserable war in Iraq, unbelievable indifference to civil liberties (Secret prison camps? Torture?? America???), among other treats. But this doesn’t prove any flaws in democracy itself. Maybe it’s what people want.”

Essayist Michael Kinsley brings up an excellent point in today’s NY Times, Bush. As Kinsley hints above, the current political tide that may wash away GOP control of (at least) the House of Representatives cannot be attributed to a resurgence of progressive belief among Americans. The current low poll numbers for Republicans signify widespread discontent with the way conservative policies have been carried out, not with the policies themselves.

Generally, the country cheered and waved the flag when you announced that our invasion of Iraq was set to begin. It took two years of daily killings, political missteps, and military inadequacies to spoil Americans on that basic tenet of neo-conservatism, the preemptive war. Certainly, one might argue that your policy in itself, Bush (preemptive war) led inevitably to the results we now see. But I doubt that Americans see it that way. They now believe that a better president might have handled the mission more deftly, and by now would be standing under a “Mission Accomplished” banner that actually meant the mission was accomplished. (What mission, Bush? That a functioning, pro-American democracy would emerge from the ruins of an American-led invasion?)

So in all likelihood and despite virtual GOP control of the ballot box, Democrats will make serious gains on Tuesday and will have more power to shape the policy agenda. But progressives ought to bear in mind the reasons for this political victory: that swing voters have soured on Republicans, not come to believe firmly in the kind of progressivism that might have led to successful diplomacy in Iraq. (“Success” in this case meaning the realization through peaceful means that Iraq did not possess your WMDs, Bush.)

In other words, progressives have serious work to do and must continue to cleave to our beliefs, formulate and “frame” them as best we can, and do the difficult work of changing minds. Otherwise, the potential upcoming electoral victory will be quickly reversed.

... and a note from PeterAtLarge

Yes, I also took note of the Michael Kinsey piece in the NYT Book Review. I agree that it struck a valuable cautionary note, but I found myself in disagreement on a couple of his points. First, Kinsey seemed a lot more comfortable than I am with the role of the Electoral College. He seems to think that it balances things out, when the results of the election are close. My own belief is that it acts to disenfranchise a good part of the electorate. Then I thought that, while was was right on Florida 2000 and the musguided action of the US Supreme Court in stepping in to disallow a recount when there was ample evidence of deliberate partisan mishandling, he brushed aside the problems with Ohio 2004 far too easily. In his discussion of this issue, he didn't even mention the Conyers report--which, to me at least, was a far more important document than the better-known Kennedy article in Rolling Stone. I continue to believe that Ohio was "stolen", too. But I guess, as Kinsey suggests, that it all comes back to what you mean by the word "stolen."

1 comment:

PK said...

We need to take our country back. I only hope that we can start in this mid-term election. Most you see on TV have a smirk on their faces, and say they (GOP) will win. I sure hope not. Pombo is one who needs to go, big time! He's pretty well liked in his area, but he's... well, he needs to go... I wish us all the best. Have a good tomorrow...