January 31, 2004

Reich's Liberal Revolution

Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it sounds cool. I've put this off for a while, but I want to cover the latest editorial by Robert Reich. While it doesn't provide quite as much material as other editorials I've fisked, it does show that Reich seems to misunderstand a few concepts, and it also repeats the "conservatives have taken over the country" meme. Let's take a look:

The Dead Center

The dismal fifth-place showing by Senator Joseph Lieberman in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday serves as both reminder and motivator to the other Democratic presidential candidates on what it will take to win in November. For so long now, everyone has assumed that recapturing the presidency depends on who triumphs in the battle between liberals and moderates within the party.

Uh, I think they have to triumph over the CURRENT president as well, but I could be wrong.

Such thinking, though, is inherently flawed.

Like I said...

The real fight is between those who want only to win back the White House and those who also want to build a new political movement — one that rivals the conservative movement that has given Republicans their dominant position in American politics.

Let's see here...budget deficit, medicare expansion, Amnesty Lite™, 0 vetos, NEA funds, lack of support for Israel...sounds real conservative, doesn't it?

Senator Lieberman's defeat on Tuesday could be a good indicator of which side is ahead. To their detriment, Mr. Lieberman and the perennially dour Democratic Leadership Council have been deeply wary of any hint of a progressive movement, preferring instead an uninspired centrist message that echoes Republican themes.

Wait, so the dominant conservative movement has gained power by echoing centrist themes? I'm confused already.

On the other extreme is Howard Dean, who could be called the quintessential "movement" Democrat. His campaign is both grass-roots and reformist, and is based on the proposition that ordinary people must be empowered to "take back America."


Similar threads can also be seen in the campaigns of Senators John Edwards and John Kerry. (Full disclosure: I've been helping Senator Kerry.)

Helping Senator Kerry? What do you do? Style his important-looking hair? Administer his botox injections? Maybe you're the guy that reminds him before every debate that he was in Vietnam, but he shouldn't mention what he did when he got back.

It was no accident after last week's caucuses in Iowa that a beaming Senator Edwards told supporters they had "started a movement to change America."

From what I've seen of Edwards' policies, that's a very bad thing.

I hope that Mr. Edwards and the others will stay on message — and movement. After all, Democrats have seen what the Republican Party has been able to accomplish over the years. The conservative movement has developed dedicated sources of money and legions of ground troops who not only get out the vote, but also spend the time between elections persuading others to join their ranks.

Wow! Isn't democracy fascinating? You'd almost think more people agree with conservatives! How crazy is that?!

It has devised frames of reference that are used repeatedly in policy debates (among them: it's your money, tax and spend, political correctness, class warfare).

If you liberal idiots would stop relying on things like political correctness and class warfare, conservatives wouldn't have to mention 'em so much.

It has a system for recruiting and electing officials nationwide who share the same world view and who will vote accordingly.

It's called canvassing, stupid.

And it has a coherent ideology uniting evangelical Christians, blue-collar whites in the South and West, and big business...

Yeah, only rich white Southern fundies vote Republican!

...an ideology in which foreign enemies, domestic poverty and crime, and homosexuality all must be met with strict punishment and religious orthodoxy.

Whoa! You're out of line there, Reich. Why'd he lump homosexuality in with terrorism and crime? I don't know about the rest of the "conservative movement" (formerly known as the VRWC, I assume), but I don't think it's the business of government to "punish" homsexuality, and I really don't think there's any "religious orthodoxy" involved. Does setting limits on government endorsement of romantic relationships count as punishment in Reich World?

In contrast, the Democratic Party has had no analogous movement to animate it. Instead, every four years party loyalists throw themselves behind a presidential candidate who they believe will deliver them from the rising conservative tide.

Ah, yes, the "anyone but Bush" movement. Isn't this a great country?

After the election, they go back to whatever they were doing before. Other Democrats have involved themselves in single-issue politics — the environment, campaign finance, the war in Iraq and so on — but these battles have failed to build a political movement.

Does the term "Deaniacs" ring a bell for you?

Issues rise and fall, depending on which interests are threatened and when. They can even divide Democrats, as each advocacy group scrambles after the same set of liberal donors and competes for the limited attention of the news media.

How dare they compete in the marketplace of ideas! What is this, some kinda free country?

As a result, Democrats have been undisciplined, intimidated or just plain silent.

Undisciplined, maybe, but not intimidated or silent. Let's review a few statements made by "just plain silent" Democratic candidates:

-"Life begins with the mother's decision."
-"The capture of Saddam Hussein has not made the Iraqi people safer."
-"The Iraqi standard of living is a lot lower now." (this may not be an exact quote)
-"I'll beat the sh*t out of [anyone who questions my record]."

They have few dedicated sources of money, and almost no ground troops.

What do you call all those people going to the caucuses?

The religious left is disconnected from the political struggle.

"The religious left?" What does that even mean? Maybe he's talking about Episcopalians...

One hears few liberal Democratic phrases that are repeated with any regularity.

-"Bush lied, people died!"
-"No war for oil!"
-"Where are the WMD?"
-"[This many] soldiers have died since Bush declared the end of major combat operations in May."
-"The Patriot Act is unconstitutional!"
-"Bush is a [racist/fascist/Nazi/homophobe/etc.]

Nope, haven't heard any liberal Democratic phrases like those.

In addition, there is no consistent Democratic world view or ideology.

Sure there is. It's called "Panderism."

Most Congressional Democrats raise their own money, do their own polls and vote every which way. Democrats have little or no clear identity except by reference to what conservatives say about them.

"The evil conservatives are spreading lies, and there's nothing we can do because Ashcroft will question our patriotism!"

Self-styled Democratic centrists, like those who inhabit the Democratic Leadership Council, attribute the party's difficulties to a failure to respond to an electorate grown more conservative, upscale and suburban.

Has it ever occurred to you that the American people in general have become more "upscale and suburban" because of tax cuts? I guess your conservatism increases with money or something. He needs a mathematical formula to go with this whole "Reich Theory of Conservatism":

$ + † = (R)

This is nonsense. The biggest losses for Democrats since 1980 have not been among suburban voters but among America's giant middle and working classes — especially white workers without four-year college degrees, once part of the old Democratic base. Not incidentally, these are the same people who have lost the most economic ground over the last quarter-century.

Interesting...could it be that those people have realized that Democratic economic policies are the reason they've lost so much ground? Maybe if they would concentrate on job creation instead of throwing money at every social problem, the lower classes would be more successful.

That's just the first page of the column. Jaws will probably post his thoughts as well, and I've covered about all I can handle. Also, it's 1:50 in the morning. I can only blog for so long.


Posted by CD on January 31, 2004 01:58 AM
Semi-Intelligent Comments

he's still sour that he couldn't win the Dem nomination for Governor in the People's Republik of Taxachussets :)

Good fisking. I will post my thoughts, eventually, when I'm not so lazy about doing so ;)

[I love taking cheap shots or any shots at Reich]

Posted by: jaws at January 31, 2004 09:06 PM

Oh, and another thing, I think this page says it all


Posted by: jaws at February 1, 2004 12:38 PM

Wow. That's officially the most disturbing thing I've seen this week.

Posted by: CD at February 1, 2004 01:56 PM

Sorry about that. I just felt that it was necessary to share.

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