RESPONSE TO — Secretary of College Democrats Speaks Out
The main thrust of Dave Chapman’s opinion is that the midterm “shellacking” should be a wake-up call for Democrats, who are in serious danger in 2012 — and I agree. It would be difficult, however, for me to disagree more about what course of action this wake-up call demands.
The narrative of the jumbled Democratic docket is a myth that no liberal of any color should perpetuate; the left-center caucus did in fact tackle the economy first. Further, they tried to work with Republicans. Econ 102 and the past 100 years of history validate Obama’s fiscal stimulus as the best move toward “making conditions conducive to job creation.” However, Republicans made it clear from day one that fixing the economy was not “something that both parties wanted” — the anemic stimulus was too watered down by the other side of the aisle to have the desired affect, although economists generally agree that it prevented the economy from slipping into further decline. While some may argue that Keynesian economics are “divisive” and even “socialist”, the right’s only solution was more tax cuts (those worked well under Bush, right?), which economists now know are relatively ineffective compared to a stimulus.
Now as for the notion that the electoral prescription for Democrats is to move to the right, let us examine the evidence. Chapman himself asserts that conservative Blue Dogs took the brunt of the Great Shellacking, so I’m not precisely sure why it is suggested the entire caucus follow their lead. To be sure, these Democrats were elected by historically conservative districts, but they were not elected on a conservative platform. How many of us know the specific positions of the representatives we elect? People vote for tickets — and in 2008, when many of these Blue Dogs were elected, the face of the Democratic ticket was Barack Obama. These Dogs were elected on a (relatively) progressive platform — remember “Change”? Perhaps they were kicked out due to the decided lack of “progress” made during the last two years. Chapman does not consider this possibility.
The fact is that those young and liberal voters, who ushered these Blue Dogs into office on a wave of hope for liberal change, made no effort to have their voices heard this November. And why should they have? They were ignored for two years. The mistake of the last two years has not been over-playing to some marginal “progressive crowd,” but under-playing to the masses who demand progressive change. Which radical policies have so “alienated” the party? The fiscal stimulus, which probably would have been supported by more moderate Republicans like Nixon and H.W. Bush? The healthcare “reform” bill, similar to measures proposed by Republicans in the recent past? The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”? Never mind. Drug policy reform — on which not even those hippies in California could overcome the special interests in opposition? Or, possibly, nuclear arms reduction? Balderdash. The “progressive crowd” in this country has not been played to, but played against, with serious repercussions for Democrats who count on this hardly-marginal congregation.
Chapman advocates bipartisanship and a convergence to the “center”, but these two goals are irreconcilable in today’s political climate. Whether compared to other, wealthy, developed nations or the past 80 years of America’s own history, today’s Democrats are further to the right than any left-leaning party anywhere. Ever. The solution to Democratic woes then, it would seem, is to embrace the progressive agenda this caucus was entrusted with in 2008.