Book of the Month

tmccarthy0's picture

Our Big Mistake

"Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile, I caught hell for."
~Earl Warren

That sounds like a Lyle Lovett song, Our Big Mistake; we are repeating it over and over and over again, from the 1968 election to the present. Isn't it sort of sad, we gave up working from the inside to continue to move government in a more progressive way?

  1. We turn on each other at the drop of a hat
  2. We keep our eye off the prize and it is about so much more than one guy

Republicans right now have a real death wish for the country and while liberals; progressives and democrats fight over who is the more perfect leader the country burns. The Democratic party has been around for a long damn time, is it perfect, no not in the slightest, has it at times had its share of criminals and bandits, sure enough. But we are making a big mistake constantly making Barack Obama the issue and claiming we have no power…. okay it is true the power of liberals and progressives have been waning since 1968.  The question needs to be asked, why? Why has the United State grown increasingly conservative? Why do American’s seem to believe in the “lower my taxes to nothing” mantra? And while we fight with one another we lose yet another battle.

There are few people more colorful in modern American history than Harold LeClair Ickes.  A man of America, he loved politics, we all do really, and in his time he was a member of the Republican Party, the Progressive Party and ultimately became not just a member of the Democratic Party but was the longest serving Secretary of the Interior under Franklin Delano Roosevelt. From his perch he saw the rise and fall of the Progressive Party. His experience should give current progressives pause, because he offers clues to how to be an effective party in his critique of the Progressive Party of 1912.

Ickes was a young man in 1912, he was born in 1874. He had moved from being a member of the Republican Party, to the Progressive Party. The Progressive Party was formed because of a schism in the Republican Party, really it was a schism between two men, W.H. Taft and T. Roosevelt. The schism was deep, deep enough that is allowed Democrats to sweep into congress in 1910.  In Congress, the split between "old guard" Republicans and "progressive" Republicans intensified. As the year wore on, an alliance was formed between Democrats and "progressive" Republicans in the House. Under these tensions the house revolted. It stripped the current speaker of the house and the office of the speaker of most of his out-sized powers.

Joe Cannon had once ruled the house with an iron fist, but On March 17, 1910, after two failed attempts to curb Cannon's absolute power in the House, Nebraska Representative George Norris led a coalition of 42 progressive Republicans and the entire delegation of 149 Democrats in a revolt. With many of Cannon's most powerful allies absent from the Chamber but enough Members on hand for a quorum, Norris introduced a resolution that would remove the Speaker from the Rules Committee and strip him of his power to assign committees.

And so began a tumultuous time in the history of American politics.  And it is a time we can learn from and wrest control of the argument about what government is supposed to do for its citizens. Is government really just to be used to keep taxes low and services almost non-existent? Republicans insist this is the purpose of government? If this isn’t the truth, then why don’t we fight back the way they do, by infiltrating the government itself and by changing it from the inside. Because most democrats and progressives feel the government is supposed to provide services for the citizenry, via our taxes, republicans up until this point have won the argument, because all their arguments become about not paying taxes because of X number of reasons.

By 1912, the progressive wing of the Republican Party had completely peeled off and begun their own party. It was ironically called, “A Contract with the People”. Wow who knew Newt Gingrich stole his Contract with/on America from some former disgruntled Republicans! I certainly did not know this.

The Platform:

  • The social platform is more than interesting, so here is a small excerpt of their platform:
  • A National Health Service to include all existing government medical agencies.
  • Social Insurance: which would provide for the elderly, the unemployed and the disabled.
  • Limited injunctions in strikes.
  • A minimum wage law for women
  • An eight hour workday
  • A federal securities commission
  • Farm relief.
  •  Workers’ Compensation for work-related injuries.
  • An inheritance tax.
  • A Constitutional Amendment to allow a Federal income tax.
  • The political reforms proposed included
  • Women’s suffrage.
  • Direct election of Senators.
  • Primary elections for state and federal nominations.

Sound familiar? Yes it sounds like the New Deal!  Let’s just say the Gilded Aged suffered from many of the same issues America suffers from today, income inequality being a prime source of discontent, and as social nets are whittled down, there will be more discontent in the future. This was a time when Progressive could have had much impact on society and they could today too, but it takes organization and work, not just blogs bitching and moaning about the awfulness of everything.

Progressives didn’t have a big impact until Franklin Delano Roosevelt came into power. The Gilded Age, yes, there are many good comparisons to today. The Gilded Age in the US is marked by having the wealthiest congressional members, just like today.

Progressives today are failing in the same way independent progressive movements failed in the past, and Ickes work “Who Killed the Progressive Party” gives us insight into those failures. Ickes point was the failure of the Progressive Party came down to one man, but it was so much more than that, through Ickes work we can see the ultimate failure in these words:

"The Progressive party contained few practical politicians in its ranks. The rank and file did not know how parties were run. They were blindly following Theodore Roosevelt, and they were not concerned about what machinery was necessary or how it was to be used. " (Ickes, Who Killed the Progressive Party 309)

By 1916, the Party was essentially dead.  It did not have any initial impact other than to break apart the Republican Party. But progressive ideals did manifest in the next Roosevelt Administration, because it is here where people like Harold Ickes came to change America, and they did it by working from within the government. And they were able to change the trajectory of American government.

Ickes himself was most successful in advancing progressivism when he was participating in the government as a man off all things to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Ickes held several posts simultaneously in the Roosevelt Administration, most famously of course, as the Secretary of the Interior a position he held from 1933 – 1946.  But he was not just the Secretary of the Interior, in 1941 President Roosevelt appointed him the Petroleum Coordinator for National Defense (Ickes, Fightin' Oil vii).  In fact he wrote a book called Fightin’ Oil based on his experience regulating oil companies. According to Ickes the Presidents objectives were stated clearly that his office was to; “make petroleum and petroleum products available, adequately and continuously, in the proper forms at the proper places …. to satisfy military and civilian needs (Ickes, Fightin' Oil viii). ”

Here is the interesting passage from Ickes introduction:

There were two ways in which I might have approached the job. I could have said to the President: “Mr. President, you have given me a bunch of tough hombres to deal with, and the only way that I can get along with them is for you to give me dictatorial power so that I can tell them what to do, and see that they do it.”

That would have been Hitler’s way. In fact some people, including, I suspect, a good many oil men themselves, thought that it would be my way, too. But I fooled them. It just so happens, that in spite of contrary opinions here and there, I believe in the American system of free enterprise. It is also the fact that I believe that business can best do its part – in peace as in war – with the least possible direction, and with the least interference, by the Government.

Harold Ickes was a long time progressive and this book is a policy book, written in clear narrative form, it calls on American patriotism and begins to broach the subject of conservation of oil as a natural resource. Chapter 9, speaks to the issue of conservation and admonishes Americans for being extravagant in overusing oil and oil companies for leaving the public with the impression that we could never run out of oil.  Ickes style progressivism was on display.

But the point is, Ickes and progressivism had great impact because he and others like him worked from within the system to implement progressive policies and to defend those policies to the public. Ickes was an equally controversial Secretary of the Interior.

Right now, we are fighting each other, and when we do that, like the former progressives did we lose. We’ve lost ground for more than 30 years by giving up control of our power within the government. Changing the system means participating in the system, and every single time we fail to do that, we lose ground to the Norquist crowd and we allow Republicans to gain more power and keep control of the message.

We have to keep ourselves together, tight in order to push for changes we want to see.  We have to infiltrate all levels of government like the right has, because if we don’t they will continue to control the debate and we will always be reacting to that circumstance rather than pro-actively countering those ideas. In short, we have to quit fighting with each other.

I often invite people to come to our meetings… so what I am doing now is imploring people to begin to attend their local democratic party meetings, so that the same old people don’t continue to control the message.  If you want new ideas introduced and you want an emphasis on more social programs and infrastructure you have to participate in some way, and the OFA isn’t the way to accomplish that, infiltrating the Democratic party is the way to accomplish that, make it what it could be. The President is just one guy, and he only serves for a short time, changes come from long term concerted efforts. Ask anyone who is a reformed smoker, so buck up, and get organized, infiltrate, just like the TeaPeople did to Republicans.. TeaPeople aren’t new, they were the black helicopter people during the Clinton era.  Begin to pressure them from the inside, that is how to ultimately win the war.

 

Bibliography

Ickes, Harold L. Fightin' Oil. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1943.

—. The Autobiography of a Curmudgeon. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1943.

—. "Who Killed the Progressive Party." The American Historical Review 46.2 (1941): 306-337.

Watkins, T. H. Righteous Pilgrim: The Life and Times of Harold L. Ickes 1874 - 1952. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1990.

Okay, I see the point being change starts at the bottom and works it way up. But why aren't those at the top attuned to the base that put them there? Since Obama swept into office with a House and Senate in his favor, it's been one disappointment after another. I'm starting to believe Obama is a DINO and most probably a majority of both Democrat House and Senate members too. While I've always considered myself to be a left-of-center Democrat, today I feel as if I'm way out in left field far removed from the party center ... and I haven't changed my political position or beliefs - the party has. And I watch in amazement as the GOPer circus acts are called legislation and debate while the Democrats sit in a corner and whisper the sky will fall if the GOPers don't stop making the things up as they go along. One side is playing hard politics where they shouldn't while the other refuses to step up, confront them and deny them the field. So does it really matter what the base says in needs, wants and desires if those at the top rung aren't capable of pushing the agenda? Have our elected leaders been narrowed down to addressing specific public needs of the least common denomination? That's what I think happened to the heath care issue - the least common multiple (special interest) trumped larger common denominator (public as a whole). And the fact that the GOPer's are raising pure hell about the deficit being too high and the need to cut public services to service it all while hiding the fact the deficit was money borrowed and spent during the Bu$h administration supporting legislation the GOper's passed without funding or raising taxes to offset the cost of borrowing.

I would like to attend Democrat meetings to discuss issues, but Frankfurt is too far away and they meet on night I work. But being overseas is one of being stateless - overseas voters have no say in the political discussion unless it's from the state they're registered to vote in and the cost to attend a meeting is too prohibitive and the discussion of dollar devaluation wouldn't play well or be of much concern to other more pressing state issues..

Yeah, Frankfurt is very far to attend meetings, however we have several people who skype in during our meetings, and I do that when I am overseas. The thing is, there are few that attend our meetings who most would consider liberals they are moderate and have been since I first began participating. I might be the one liberal in our local district who attends leadership meetings.

I was convinced (naively obviously) after the 2008 caucus, which was the largest I've ever seen (which I know I say over and over again) that more people would participate, I was wrong. Most people hated the GWBush administration and that is what drove that last election, even though I wanted it to be something different. I just think if people want the party to change they have to be willing to do what those former progressives did, and that is infiltrate government.

All very interesting.

Now, show me in the Dem Party Platform for 2008 (or EVER!) the plank that said we would create a Catfood Commission - especially in response to the worst recession (depression?) in a generation or two.

Show me a Dem Party whose grassroots membership considered Medicare and Social Security available for discussion in deficit reduction talks that otherwise consider the Bush Tax Cuts to be permanent and sacrosanct.

In fact, show me ONE INDICATION from Election 2008 that showed the grassroots Dems would be inclined to declare Deficit Reduction Job #1 in the face of record structural unemployment, home foreclosures, and other threats to middle income health and stability.

Yes, the person we elect to President does in fact make a difference. S/He also has some degree of responsibility to pursue the policies and defend the territory outlined by the membership of the party.

What we get instead is a disconnect wherein lip service is paid to the grassroots voters to maintain an illusion that the Dems are significantly different than Repubs on policy items that matter. But ultimately the Dem pols like Obama serve the very same monied owners that fund the Repubs as well. And it all works very well for them, as long as the grassroots play well within the rules of the game.

Any doubts? Well then, show me how the Repubs could EVER torpedo Medicare ad Social Security and the rest of the New Deal. Ain't going to happen! Impossible! The people would never allow it!

But tell you what. Stick around and Obama will show you how it gets done anyway. And all the grassroots organizing in the world ain't going to stop him for so long as it remains so willing to be trod upon by those who treat it with little more than contempt.

And before you go all apoplectic about the historical record of Progressive reforms and all, please answer me this: How much legal money was spent per Democratic Voter  by the banksters and the corporations in those corrupt times? How does that compare to today? How much quid pro quo between lobbyists and pols was allowed, let alone encouraged, by the system? How would a true Progressive overcome today's price of admission into the political game as ordered post-Citizen's United?

Oh, and I'm not sure if you've noticed, but the Tea People are ultimately pretty effective tools for promoting the corporate agenda. Freedom Works (Dicked Armey) and AFP (Koch Bros.) are just two of the monied interests that have co-opted the Repub populist "grassroots" groups. What makes you think any such grassroots efforts within the Dem Party would not suffer the same? Even as we speak, we see them trying with their "Third Wave" and "No Labels" bullshit, hoping that one of these or something like it will catch on as movement politics to sate the grassroots desire for input.

The Dems had their chance. 2008 was a change election. They had the grassroots fired up and active, ready to storm Washington in a populist revolution unlike anything we've seen since the days of FDR and the New Deal. Eight years of GW Bush, Dich Cheney, and all the Repub failures had caused the economy to tank and had otherwise left us bereft of honor and integrity as a country. Everyone watching the events at Grant Park on election night felt ​the incredible sense of revolution that was about to occur. It was simply inevitable for all the misery we had suffered, reflected most poignantly in the fear everyone felt with the near-collapse of the banking industry.

Two years later, we're fighting to save Medicare and Social Security while our friends and neighbors are out of work and are being evicted from their homes.

Feh!

Glad to see you back Sleepin.

This is an excellent point.  I don't know anybody who pulled the lever for Obama in 2008 who was saying, "this is the man who's going to get the deficit under control at all costs!"  Or, the guy who was going to lead a crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries in states where medicinal marijuana is legal, to name something that I just saw two seconds ago.

I knew the guy was a middle of the roader, sure.  But I thought that meant the middle of our road!

I've been trying to go back over the news articles from the fall of 2009 to figure out how this whole deficit reduction wave got started.  It's mysterious.   But it looks to me like the fix was in from the very start of the new administration, as big business-friendly conservative Democrats and Republicans were determined to use the financial crisis as an opportunity to shrink the size of government and push for more privatization.

Here's one group that wasn't snowed:

http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/12/04/jobs-creation-or-deficit-reduction-the...

I should have been more alert at the time.  I feel like such a sap.

The Democrats did all, to some extent, run on budget deficits.  "Bush turned the Clinton surpluses into deficits" was a big talking point for Democrats trying to claim the "fiscal responsibility" mantle.  I was doing some research this morning for my column and read through much of the preamble to the fiscal 2010 budget, which would have been proposed in 2009.  In it, Obama talks deficits quite a bit and promises that he'll have cut deficits in half by 2012.   So, if you think it's crazy that he's talking deficits now, well, sheesh, he was talking about them in 2009 while he was trying to pass a Depression-stopping budget!

I recall much of this discussion, but do not remember finding it particularly alarming at the time. After all, the Dems have in fact been pretty responsible in fiscal matters, especially compared to Reagan and Bush, et. al. My impression is that these discussions were within the context of growing the economy, allowing the Bush Tax Cuts to expire, ending the wars (and otherwise getting this funding in the budget where it could be monitored and properly accounted for), etc.

I'm no fan of Bil Clinton, but I recall the terrific fight he waged for his first budget. He received no help at all from the Repubs who claimed he was going to wreck the economy. It passed (by one vote, I believe?) only after a great deal of lobbying and arm-twisting by Clinton within the Dem Caucus, and the Congresswoman from PA who courageously cast the key vote ultimately lost her seat over it. It was a titanic struggle, and ultimately put the budget into surplus. I kinda thought this is what Obama was confronting with his budget, and that he was about to undertake the same courageous fight with good possibility for similar success.

My ears really perked up, howeer, about the time in 2010 when Obama presented his plan for the creation of the Catfood Commission. "Perked up" is a little bit understated. My response was more like "You gotta' be fucking kidding me!" It was unnecessary. It undermined any support for a Keynesian economic recovery from the devastating recession we suffer. It was basically a shot-in-the-dark unilateral cave to what was then a right-wing whacko fringe call for a "balanced budget." And - YeeGads! - he was calling upon Alan Simpson to lead the damned thing, along with Erskine Bowles as his simpering sidekick to lend an air of bi-partisanship. WTF???

This weren't no three-dimensional chess. This wasn't a simple act of bipartisanship or deal-making. This cannot be seen as anything but carrying water for a constituency that exists far removed from anything you'd find at one of TMacs Dem Party ward meetings. And it was quite deliberate.

He wants my Democrat vote. He wants yours, too. And he's targeted a goal of $1 billion in campaign cash to get it. I'm thinking there is something amiss in this calculation; that Obama can't have it all. But I might be wrong, as I see many who remain quite ready to forgive any degree of a candidate's sell-out to the monied owners in exchange for the chance to put a "Democrat" in the White House. In the end, we get no more of a "Democrat" as President than the monied interests will allow. And no amount of a grassroots hootenanny is ever going to change that.

Looking back over the some of his important speeches, I see nothing about either deficits or any deficit crisis or deficit problem in Obama's election night victory speech, or in his inauguration speech.   But his first State of the Union speech in February, 2009, is suddenly larded with references to the deficit.

Also, the day before the SOU, Obama held a "fiscal summit" at which he announced an aggressive plan for deficit reduction:

http://articles.cnn.com/2009-02-23/politics/fiscal.summit_1_deficit-spen...

Obama seems to have decided he needed a deficit reduction plan after he passed the expensive stimulus package in mid-February 2009.  He appears to have seen deficit-hawking as a way to get support from conservatives and Yellow Dogs and budget hawks for his health care initiative, arguing that rising health care costs were the biggest factor in increasing the deficit.  Of course, that didn't pan out too well.

And why isn't he now arguing loudly that we have already done much to reduce the deficit by passing health care?

Obama also seems to have thought that zeroing in on deficit reduction was a good tactic for ending the Bush tax cuts.  But then he had to trade away ending the tax cuts in late 2010 to get additional stimulus when it was clear the first one didn't do enough.  Now he is raising that issue again.  But it turns out Republicans don't really care about reducing the deficit nearly so much as they claim to, and only care about making sure the rich don't get taxed.

Then Obama's political advisers decided last year that, unemployment be damned, the administration line on corporate and financial sector greed was too harsh, and it was time to start sucking up to big business.  In comes Daley, Immelt, high-profile meetings with Jamie Dimon and friends and a wasted year of conservative budget hand-wringing.

What started as a political and rhetorical tactic to gain support for progressive initiatives has taken on a life of its own, to the extent that Obama now sounds more and more like a Republican with each passing day, and daily endorses conservative economic theories in defense of his budget proposals.

Obviously, one result of any deep recession is that the deficit shoots up as revenues fall, automatic social spending programs like unemployment insurance pay out more, and the government spends extra money to goose the economy.   And just as obviously, the "solution" to this problem is to grow the economy and reduce unemployment, which will automatically drive the revenues up and the spending down.

Turning a recession-based budget deficit spike into a wedge to push privatizations and massive government spending reductions is a classic conservative trick.  Why did Obama allow himself to get sucked into this anti-government, conservative agenda?

Recall that Obama almost named budget hawk Judd Gregg as his Commerce Secretary.  He has gotten too close to all the Peterson Foundation and Concord Coalition types, and needs to cut that cord.

Finally, as an example of history repeating itself, I found this passage in a July, 2008 NYT article on the Obama campaign:

Clinton campaigned in 1992 on a platform he called "Putting People First," which included government spending on job training and other programs to help middle-class Americans navigate the economy. But after his election, Clinton scaled back his ambitions and made deficit-cutting a priority instead, following the counsel of advisors such as Robert E. Rubin.

Clinton wound up charting a centrist course in his two terms, and declared in 1996 that "the era of big government is over."

Rubin is now an advisor to Obama. One of the men who also wanted Clinton to cut the deficit first was Leon E. Panetta, who eventually became Clinton's chief of staff.

Panetta predicts that Obama is in for a similar reckoning.

"I accept that all candidates throw out a lot of proposals when they're campaigning," Panetta said in an interview. "You have to assume that's all part of a campaign strategy to appeal to a lot of different constituencies that are out there. But once he enters the Oval Office, he's going to have to make some hard decisions."

Lord, this is all so familiar.  "Putting people first" just gets replaced by "Politics from the ground up, not the top down." .   "Change" is replaced by .... um .... "change".  And we get another Trojan horse Democratic administration aligned with big business to resist regulation and weaken and shrink the public sector.  We get health care reform, but it's a very private-sector friendly version of the Republican reform proposal from the 90's, which current Republicans walk away from.

By the way, although I was generally very supportive of Obama throughout 2009, I was absolutely furious on inauguration day and in the weeks before it, and refused to watch the inauguration speech live, mainly because the Obama transition had been commandeered by Clinton administration retreads like Podesta, Panetta and Rubin, who had picked an administration stuffed with the very same folks I had spent much of the previous year and a half trying to keep out of the White House.

I don't know how we do it.  But Job One for Democrats in 2012, has to be to put an end to this neoliberal era of Third Way, DLC-style, Rubin-inspired Democratic Party politics.  They are so over.  The DLC became radioactive among many Dems and has been phased out.  But DLC politics just appears to have been rebranded as the Obama administration.

We need to put those clowns and Wall Street hacks and toadies on notice.  We are taking our old party back.

And here are some people who are working on the case:

http://contract.rebuildthedream.com/

Don't let anybody tell you that progressives aren't getting organized.  It's inspiring to scroll through the long list of submitted proposals.  There are lots of great ideas in there.  And some of them are submitted by people who can barely communicate in English.  But the heart and thought and common sense comes through.

Thanks Dan, there are quite a few meetings within 30 miles of my Zip code.

Maybe they'll discuss how to primary this home wrecking, middle class destroying, DINO President.

I hope they don't need too much money, seeing as how my assets have been greatly diminished. .......Purposely?

What kind of idiot destroys his base' ability to fund a campaign?  

Well, maybe since the Supreme Court turned our federal elections into franchise operations of corporations, every politician's base now consists entirely of corporations.  Obama doesn't need our money anymore.

I wanted to go to a Rebuilding the Dream meeting on the 16th, but I'm going to be out of the country on that day.

I think the PRIVATE - Non- transparent  conversation between the Whitehouse and Congress, is a ploy to run out the clock, and in the 11th hour, humanity is saved.

"See folks, the Congress can come together, the great facilitator Obama made it happen"

"Praise be to the leadership, for having to make some hard choices but they did it".

It was hard, we fought for the middle class, but in the end it's whats best for the Plutocracy country

"Oh by the way, Middle America,did we tell you in the rush to save America from default ;You of the middle class had to be sacrificed;  but you'll get over it, you'll soon forget about the sellout when the next crisis hits.

"Whew it was close and we couldn't disrupt the tight negotiations and let the people in on the scheme, to further transfer the wealth and destroy the middle class. Had the middle class known what sacrifices were going to be extracted from them, they would have complained to loudly.

The people will again, have been snookered, just as they were in the "Too big to fail" Rush to save America; redistribution scheme.

The public will become aware, AFTER THE FACT. of how much more WE OF THE MIDDLE CLASS  were screwed for the good of the country. We'll learn to late, how much more leverage WE THE PEOPLE lost.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

The tax break I am afraid Wall Street will want to eliminate is;  the Mortgage interest deduction.

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/the-misunderstood-mortgage-interest-deduction/

http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/2011/06/capture-theory-and-the-financial-crisisposner.html

Wall Street never liked investments in Real Estate, because unlike stocks, wall street brokers have to compete for the same money, real estate investments brokers gain from Real estate transactions.

I think Wall street convinced the President, not to  intervene to support Real -estate investments. Don't intervene in the foreclosure crisis. Just give lip service, tell the people "you feel their pain", but whatever you do Mr President ...DO NOTHING to interfere.  

Let homes devalue, let them become a poor investment tool, so the people will have no other choice than to give Wall street ALL future investment dollars.

Like any other Cartel, eliminate the competition.

"While you're at it Mr. President, maybe you could privatize Social Security so Wall Street could make more money, In return we'll promote and  buy your bonds and treasuries, to finance your wars"  

Where else will the American worker invest, they'll have no where else to go; except . Wall Street.

    

  • There is no place for government to prohibit consumers from buying products the effect of which will be to harm themselves.
    • Free to Choose (1980), segment Who protects the consumer?
    • http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Milton_Friedman
    •  
    •  
    • Wall Street expanded upon this theory, Government should not protect the people, Government should protect the ability of shysters.  

 

 

He is talking about deficits because Republicans even when they are the minority party, control the conversation just like the did under Bill Clinton. Remember that during the Clinton Administration ending Welfare became the big issue, oh and balancing the budget and lower taxes even more and de-regulation, Republicans drove those issues. Now you can say Clinton was always a "conservative" and that is an easy out, and easy way to say to yourself I don't have to participate, and so stuff never changes, in fact, the country becomes more conservative.

We have to ask ourselves why Republicans always drive this issues, Democrats don't not even when they are the majority party, still those conservatives drive the issues, why? Unless we are willing to infiltrate government by being inside the government we will never drive the issues. We can see that now, you blame one guy, I blame all of us.

I really don't know what you are talking about.  When have I ever said that I don't have to participate?

I have asked myself many times why Republicans drive many issues - even issues in which they are in the minority.   And I have given an answer:   They drive many issues because powerful and prominent Democrats don't fight back against Republicans when Republicans get aggressive.   Instead, they wheedle, and hand-wring, and compromise, and plead and submit.

When the Republican Party decided in 2009 to go in for a party-wide brain removal, and then to stick their loud flapping gums and newly vacant heads up their asses, Barack Obama decided that the appropriate political response was to go on defense, remove half of his brain and stick his head halfway us his ass.  Because you know, that's how things work in the Obama world of "bringing people together" through compromise.

Republicans told the world loudly in 2009 that they were so terrified of the new black president that they were going get guns, get mad, get stupid and just say no.  The White House response: "It's OK honey;  I'll move over and let you drive."

Now we wonder why the Republicans are driving.

You and I can never come to an agreement Dan, you simply don't like me, which is fine I have no argument to make to change your mind. But when you read what I write you always have an argument against it,  as to why whatever I write is entirely wrong and can never be right and how you will never understand it, etc and so on. And this is why we lose so often, you are fighting, someone who is your natural ally.

Eye's on the Prize I always say and if you look at me as the enemy, we've already lost.

Tmc, please avoid personalizing the discussion. Dan wrote nothing about his opinion of you as an individual nor described you as an enemy. Bloggers around here have strong opinions about political issues, and they are welcome to express them.

Thanks.

PS I've heard that strong opinions are elitist, however. ;)

Let me be clearer tmc: When I said that I don't know what you are talking about, all I was referring to was your suggestion that I was saying that I don't need to participate.

I'm sure you're right, tm.  So often we blame the substance of our message but "you have to spend money to make money" is really as easy an argument to make to the average person as "we have to deal with these deficits right now!"

I think one of the reasons that they seem to control the debate, aside from media complicity, is that our side tends to respond to everything so politely.  "Deficits, you say?  How about we form a bipartisan commission to study that."

Whereas, had we said the same thing to George Bush he'd have said, "How about we form a bipartisan commission of you shutting the Hell up?"  He just never, ever devoted the resources of his administration to studying the priorities of his political opponents.  I'm not advocating that approach but you see the results in practice.

So maybe we have to replace our post-partisans with partisans.  I'm very skeptical about the two party system but if that's what we have, maybe that's the same we have to play.  So beyond policy, which we love to talk about around here, we're also going to have to foster some out and out tribalism, where, say, the argument against putting together a bipartisan commission to discuss dealing with the debt has nothing to do with the merits of budget balancing and everything to do with not handing out opponents the rope that they're going to slip around our neck.

Studies... oh yes, we will always try to study things endlessly and although I have no academic argument against that approach, but the organizational argument against it is that is confuses the issues enough because the approach treats each solution as plausible.

Tribal.. hmm, I don't know about that, mostly because I don't love that word anymore, it has been used to drive a wedge between people who are natural allies. That doesn't make me happy and it keeps us on the losing side. But I agree we do have to foster some participation by those who really do have great ideas who are firebrands so to speak, that attract listeners. See Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann as dumb as they seem to me, they certainly attract listeners, in droves leaving them with the ability to drive the political conversation.  But they don't seem outright angry, they seem personable, whereas a smart guy like Grayson, comes off as really angry, and no doubt I love to see him rant, but that does turn regular voters off.

Yeah we have to foster some good 'ol people, who speak the language of the regular guy. I guess, but we also need the participation of people who simply for whatever reason, don't participate. It would be easier to push a progressive agenda if they did participate.  Want to push Democrats in the right direction, make them by infiltrating the organization. At least that is what I think.

"...confuses the issues enough because the approach treats each solution as plausible."

Nicely put.

You've missed the entire point of the blog sleepin. The point is not what the platform for the current democratic party is, the point is that if liberals/progressives want to have their policies incorporated in policies they have to be willing to infiltrate the government, not unlike Ickes  and others at the time, although they avoided it for long periods of time.

Quit yelling at me, (caps constitute yelling) cause guess what buddy, I am on your side, and this is one of the things that is hurting our side, this constant in-fighting and screaming at each other, when we are supposed to be organizing to change things.

If you fight with your natural allies you never win.

Sleepin put four words in caps in a 13-paragraph comment, tm.

If you fight with your natural allies, you never win.

Consider for a moment that from this perspective you insist on calling me culpable for internecine warfare for daring to suggest that Obama be accountable to his constituents. Quit insisting he deserves a free pass whenever he cuts us off at the knees, and I'll quit fighting with you. Deal? Otherwise, pleas accept responsibility for YOUR (yes, in caps) culpability in prolonging this dispute.

Thanks for the information on the history of the progressive movement.  I agree with you that we have to spend time working within the party.  Many young people spend time reading blogs on the internet.  All you have to look at the rise of Cenk Uygur popularity with his internet show Young Turks. I first heard of him from one of my grandson's friends before he went on MSNBC.  The younger generation is moving toward progressive and liberal thinking.  All the snarky stuff you see in comments on TPM and Huffpo is the stuff that draws them to the democrats. Blogging is having it's impact.    

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