OWN GOAL

Let's be blunt: Third Way and all the other groups that exist to glorify centrism are conservative groups. They appeal solely to people who agree with Republican policy but are embarrassed at how mean and backward and – worst of all – uncivil Republicans are. It's the Aaron Sorkin / West Wing deleted scenes version of political reality in which everyone is very serious and very honorable and lo and behold all of the policy they push is virtually indistinguishable from anything the Republican Party has wanted since the 1970s. Liberals fall for this sometimes because the idea of politics being nice and civil even when you disagree about things is just so darn appealing to some people for whom process and decorum are far more important than outcomes.

You can't do a much better job of undercutting the whole Centrist / Third Way movement than it does to itself, though, and I think this exercise in concern trolling about the Democratic Party being just so ultra-leftist (e.g., shows signs of supporting something to the left of Joe Lieberman and Zell Miller) is a great example:

Some of the key initiatives are a massive apprenticeship program to train workers, a privatized employer-funded universal pension that would supplement Social Security and an overhaul of unemployment insurance to include skills training. Other proposals included a "small business bill of rights" and the creation of a "BoomerCorps" — like the volunteer AmericaCorps for seniors.

Meanwhile, they say the progressive agenda is out of date. They dismiss, for instance, a federal jobs guarantee as a rehash of the New Deal.

"Our ideas must be bold, but they must also fit the age we are in," Cowan said. "Big isn't enough. If it's bold and old — it’s simply old."

OK so there's a lot to unpack here. Privatization (straight out of the right wing playbook), "retraining" (Bill Clinton at Peak Neoliberal), small business handjobbing (Chamber of Commerce right-wing deregulation), and…something so utterly stupid that I don't even know how to define it.

Then the New Deal is invoked to…deride the Democratic Party? Clearly what the Democratic Party should avoid at all costs is the thing that got a president and his successor re-elected five times, produced the largest Democratic Senate majority in history, and was instrumental in the economic development of the country at a perilous time.

These people are idiots, the whole centrism fetishizing apparatus is a stalking horse for right-wing economic policy, and the more the Democratic Party has tried to appease these people the worse its results – electorally and policy-wise – have been.

They're dumb and they're wrong. Stop listening to them and stop idealizing their fantasy version of a Politics of Politeness and Propriety that never was.

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29 thoughts on “OWN GOAL”

  • Thanks for this. We need more voices saying it and major media seems to be in the pockets of the same people who own^H^H^Hcontribute the most money to the political parties. They're not most Americans. And most Americans across the political spectrum are pissed off about it.
    It doesn't help that the "centrist" (meaning "far right") Democrats (already being a right wing party) spend their time dismissing the "radical left" part of their party. If a majority of Americans who aren't paid-off politicians agree with every plank this "radical left" offers, it isn't actually radical or even left, is it? This is the D version of newspeak, which I suppose is somehow the "lesser of two evils" when compared with Trumpist newspeak.
    Anyway, thanks. And you are not alone. Not only not alone but joined by the majority of Americans, regardless of their voting records.
    What's next? Shut up about the orange rodeo clown? Yes we know he stinks as a clown but let's talk actual issues instead? We're all there with you, too.

  • A "Boomer Americorps" being presented as a more serious proposal than a jobs guarantee is hilarious. Yes, granny digging up invasive species for a very small living expenses stipend and almost certainly at the expense of young people will surely solve our retirement and unemployment crises! Bold!

  • This is good advice, and I don't disagree, but advice that must be embraced by national Democrats and Democrats with safe seats. I'm deeply involved in a state house race in a rural red district in the Midwest. The niceness and civility and why can't we all get along and get things done tropes are deeply ingrained in the electorate here and it's this demographic that the Democratic candidate absolutely must win over. Turnout in our house district will be around 15k and the R incumbent won by 3k last time. Even with our energy focused on registering new Dems and turning out our people who stayed home last time that gap can't be closed without a significant number of Rs and Is changing their minds and voting for the Dem. These voters willing to switch are not ideological or care deeply about a lot of political issues or have a particularly sophisticated understanding of political process (in the way that Ed does and all of his readers). But personality, manners, and civility go a long way with them. just 750 changing their minds is a 1500 vote swing (the rest of the gap has to be closed by turning out our people). I talk to them all the time and before they agree with Democrats' message they need to trust them and in order to trust them they need to know them. It's not rational it's personal and about relationships. But this strategy really is only for the Dems in red areas. Its not practical for us to lead on the big issues. Every district has a different path to victory. But we do need the Dems with platforms and who are safe to lead on important Dem priorities and open up the issue space more for the rest of us. I'm not disagreeing. But that is the civility piece- on style. On the issue piece we can push back on centrist nonsense, especially privatization of important gov services which has been a complete disaster here.

  • You're in a red district that overwhelmingly voted for an ignorant buffoon and other republican ignorant buffoons but "The niceness and civility and why can't we all get along and get things done tropes are deeply ingrained in the electorate here." Go ahead and pull my other leg why don't you.

  • We have a progressive Congressional candidate–running as a democrat–in my district.

    Her impetus to get into the race came from her being refused a meeting with the sitting RefucKKKliKKKlansman.

    She seems like a really decent person and I hope to hell she prevails.

    If she ate babies I'd vote for her, at this point, unless her private dietary pecultiarities influenced her legislative duties.

    Having said that, she knocked an Hispanic/Latino American out of the race who had just been defeated in a mayoral race. That person may be just an ambitious person who wanted to be a member of the ruling class or a person who wanted to lift her constituents out of the muck and mire that they've been consigned to due to gerrymandering, abusive and punitive policing, aggressive and selective prosecutions for property crimes and drug dependency and the like.

    I'll settle for someone who is not a member of the GOP.

  • "It (single payer healthcare) does not work in the rest of America… and I'm tired of losing."
    — Iowa state Senator Jeff Danielson

    How do you KNOW it won't work if NO ONE HAS TRIED IT, JEFF?? Also, you're a STATE FUCKING SENATOR FROM A SMALL REPUBLICAN STATE SO WHO THE FUCK CARES WHAT YOU THINK??

    Answer: Comcast- NBC, obvs, who can't even be bothered to use a goddamn spell checker to get Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's name right.

    Sorry for the shouting. All the rightward push of the last 30 years seems to have accomplished is the destruction of the Democratic Party at a local, state, and national level. Great job DLC!!

  • "Thanks for this. We need more voices saying it and major media seems to be in the pockets of the same people who own^H^H^Hcontribute the most money to the political parties. They're not most Americans. And most Americans across the political spectrum are pissed off about it.

    Major Media is OWNED by the oligarchs.

    "who own^H^H^H" is what?

    Most people I talk to ARE pissed but they don't want to blame those responsible–themselves–for us having gotten here.

    Blaming the DLC for your* not voting or being involved in politics for some number of years is a bit like blaming a subscription fire department for getting to your smoking foundation three hours after the fire started because you didn't join the association. They're BAD, you're complacent until your own ox has been gored.

    All 2nd person references are not intended to put you, personally in the dunce chair–I'm talking about the whole group–many millions–who think politics is somehow, "off" between elections.

  • Maj. Kong:

    If you see this.

    I heard about four people on the morning driveshow last week talking about how easy it is to fly them newfangled jetz like you get to sit in/nap/have comely flight attendants peel grapes and the like.

    I was tempted to call and say three words:

    " 'Sully', Harlem River."

  • Honestly 'retraining' should be like an IQ test for public officials/commentariat.

    "I lost my job putting boxes on the truck when they automated a new plant in Laos. Time to become a nuclear engineer!"

    It's entirely the same thing as admitting that you have no new economic ideas. When someone asks why your non-policies result in the exact same thing that's currently happening, just shrug. It's more honest.

  • I think a lot of the fighting between the center and the left, both represented by the Democratic Party in the US, is a product of the democrats being, effectively, a coalition party. In order to get an Ocasio-Cortez, you have to elect a Schumer and a Clinton and a Doug Jones. That’s the reason for all the hand-wringing among centrist democrats that Ocasio-Cortez will torpedo their chances in suburban Atlanta, etc. that said, social democrats should run in districts that support them, and centrists in the districts that support them. I mean, that’s why the ACA was watered down AF, but the ACA was far better than what was (and what will soon be again) the status quo. But as long as Dems are a coalition party, we need to accept that the centrists are our only hope in Montana, but not give them too much power in the process, if that’s possible. Is that possible?

  • Negative 1: job training unemployed people only makes sense when the training builds on their skills, and if the gov’t pays for it. To the first point, the box stacker will never be a nuclear technician, but could move into something slightly more skilled; not sure what, but something(?!). To the second, I’ll paraphrase the gop about free college: “lolol, fuck you.” The whole job training silver bullet trope only works if poor people go into debt to pay private corporations for the training, which is, I think, the whole point.

  • Leon:

    "Not sure what, but something (?!)" is kind of like the motto of job retraining. Hence the IQ test for public officials.

  • The people that used to have good paying low skilled jobs 'cuz craven democrats and unions are now realizing that freeing up the brown hordes via the green revolution, tractors and shortsighted irrigation/monocropping, etc., makes it easier for the brown hordes to become low-skilled, LOW PAID drones.

    Yeah, blame that on, uh, who?

  • Emerson Dameron says:

    Conservatives are unapologetic bullies and con artists. A lot of the disgust that "swing voters" have for liberals probably results from their refusal to ever fight back.

    Remind them that there are only two kinds of Republicans: millionaires and suckers.

  • Isaac Segal says:

    I was going to make the same point as Leon just did about running liberals where liberals can win and centrists where centrists can win. That formula is a lot less diverse than the New Deal coalition, which included everything from Southern Democrats to New York liberals, and still managed to enact sweeping reforms that advanced both social and economic justice. And, speaking of the New Deal, it should be remembered that FDR did not take office with a detailed plan of action. Much of his policy was not based on ideology, but on a pragmatic approach to solving the problems the country faced. As he said in a 1932 address:

    " Let us not confuse objectives with methods. Too many so-called leaders of the Nation fail to see the forest because of the trees. Too many of them fail to recognize the vital necessity of planning for definite objectives. True leadership calls for the setting forth of the objectives and the rallying of public opinion in support of these objectives.

    "Do not confuse objectives with methods. When the Nation becomes substantially united in favor of planning the broad objectives of civilization, then true leadership must unite thought behind definite methods.

    "The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something."

    This last paragraph makes more sense than ever. Rather than looking at reality through a liberal or conservative lens, we should be looking for the most workable solutions to today's problems and not worry about keeping ideological score. One of my favorite sayings has always been, "It's amazing what you can accomplish when you don't care who gets the credit."

  • I've been kicking around the idea of a Boomer's Corps in my head, mostly because I'm getting near to retirement and I like the idea of spending a couple weeks in the woods building trails on the government's dime. But I'm not stupid enough to consider that an Economic Initiative.

  • "Big isn't enough. If it's bold and old — it’s simply old."

    Does anyone honestly think "cutting taxes for rich people and destroying our meager safety net" are new ideas? Reagan ran on those 38 years ago. We're on the third go-around of "trying" this proven failure.

  • land_planarian says:

    The kind of hilarious thing is, a lot of the new crop of left-progressive and socialist politicians are relentlessly positive in their public personas, and expansively generous in their policy stances.

    I've heard repeatedly from people who've worked with Ocasio-Cortez suggests she's got an Obama-magnitude personal charm. On the state bench, Lee Carter in Va loves making dorky dad jokes, Julia Salazar (Also NYC) is humble and friendly, Jovanka Beckles (CA) is relentlessly patient with her homophobic constituents. Hell, even grumpy grandpa Sanders is more willing than most Democrats to talk directly with working-class conservatives, in a way that both acknowledges they face real problems and have chosen the worst possible way to try and solve them.

    All of their political stances are framed in welcoming terms, offering universal programs and explicitly calling for pan-racial solidarity. It's a politics built to both rally the base and peel off any conservatives who're willing to come along, by focusing on big ideas instead of team spirit.

    It's an eminently practical approach, starting to win elections against steep disadvantages. But it requires committing to policies that reduce the wealth and power of the already wealthy and powerful, so we're all cursed to endless media whinging about how meeeaaaan and ridiculous the whole project is, and why we need to give up on the silly idea people might vote for a party that will materially improve their lives and do something practical, like bet on Joe Lieberman's charisma.

  • @DC, you said above that your "who have YOU worked to get elected?" comment wasn't directed exclusively at me (thanks!), and yes, I agree that if you really wanna move the meter you need to do more than just vote. But for a lot of people between jobs and kids and life there's not a lot of time for that kind of stuff– working for candidates you can really get behind. I've voted consistently for the leftmost Dem candidate in various primaries for about 35 years and the party is STILL drifting right. I don't FEEL like a leftwing crackpot, or at least I didn't used to. Now I'm not so sure.

  • @democommie

    Can you explain why unions would want low paid skilled workers? Doesn't that sort of undermine the mission of unions?

    And why only 'craven democrats'? The push for low paid low skill work is corporate, kind of obviously. Why in your construct are they only paying 'craven democrats'? Do you believe they are not paying 'craven republicans' as well?

    I demand a higher quality of troll.

  • wow, just wow. that anyone should need to be reminded how evil Blue Dogs are is enough reason to vote Republican. why vote for a Blue Dog when a real Republican can do it better, effing us over, i mean.

    as long as the Right owns the moral high ground through "any means necessary", i don't think any other "choice" is viable. which explains the horrid empty treason that is a Blue Dog or any other "person" who enables a Republican.

    Republican are downright honest and truthful about destroying the American Dream for those not in the "Club", born wealthy or the right connections. and watching the ease at which "Let's all get along" poison by the Centrists is sold to the "oh we can't be mean like the Republicans" general public.

    40 years of stealing, polluting and destroying the American Society seems to be enough time for lots of people to see how "forthright and honest" the Republicans are about getting every last bit of change the working class once had.

    and to think people think Republican values are so good, so good that many so called Democrats copy them, in a lesser evil type of way.

    that is why we need to go back to the FDR type of society, where equality was the goal of American Government. not the Republican way? you betcha, it aint. Republican are worse than anything Putin, Hitler or Genghis Khan could ever dream up of. Republicans actually practice what they preach. Screwing the rest of US over. and to endorse anyone who helps them do this is Treason.

    well, it is just amazing to see how powerful the Greed Factor is in America. To sell their own countrymen out for a Dollar is what the Dollar Democrats are all about.

    Morals and Values vs Greed and Republican Dollars Signs.

    pretty much what America has been turned into. a never ending slide into moral vacuity that would stun the Devil as to how completely successful the Republicans have been, thanks of course to the Democrats/DCC, centrists or whatever the sell out Dollar Dems call themselves.

    Society is made up of all the various parts and Republicans and the Dollar Dems have had 40 some odd years since the Gipper to stripmine and divide this country.

    watching DCC, DLC, Centrists or whatever you call the Democratic Party today help sell out for their share of Republican Anarchy shows it is past time to return to the FDR vision for America. a return to a society for all and not just the Rich, is the only avenue we haven't tried since we went down the Rabbithole.

    not that i think it will happen. Americans like their fantasies about being a "temporarily inconvenienced Millionaire." Watching the Con on America since Newt and Bill Clinton's machinations/War on America, shows how easily Americans can be fooled.

  • And the piece of centrism that drove the New Deal programs into law was a threat to pack the Supreme Court. It worked.

  • @ Negative 1:

    You been coming here long?

    I'm an independent, have been my whole life. I've never voted for a republican–it's inconceivable to me that I might, given their policies.

    Unions and "craven democrats" (all of those who don't embrace the "burn the motherfucker down and start from scratch!" philosophy of the supposed leftie progs*) ARE the ones who brought a living wage, workplace safety, benefits for medical and health and a host of other improvements to the U.S. working class–not the communists, workers party or socialists. To be sure, socialism and its adherents have deeply influenced the democratic party over it's 150 or so years of being–they just had to work WITH the dems to get that sort of stuff done. Afaia, the only current strategy is a hostile takeover of the DNC by the people who don't like them some Hilz and Terry McAuliffe**

    What is consistently proposed here is that the DNC simply cease being in charge of the Democrats. How the fuck does that even happen? Really, how do you make them just hand over the money and the infrastructure and step aside for the NEW. SMARTER, MORE WOKE folks to make it all better?

    I've been asking people for about a year now, who their candidates are for the mid-terms. I'm hearing fucking crickets.

    BernGarJillbroz are long on criticism (much of it deserved) for the DNC and virtually silent on actual ways to fix it or replace it with a better, more biddable group who will make EVERYBODY happy, 4EVER. I suspect that this is because they have no fucking idea how to do so.

    @Geoff:

    No, you're not a "leftwing crackpot", imo. I've been reading your comments for a while and you seem to be fairly well centered (not "centrist") on matters societal and political. And, I get that not everyone has oodles of time and resources to work for their chosen candidates. What I don't get (and I don't put you in with the next group) is the childish notion that big, bad democrats have fucked the U.S. public into a living hell. When I was a kid, democrats were racists, homophobes and xenophobes. Then, in 1964, they began streaming into the GOP, 'cuz racetraitorism by people in the DNC and prominent politicians who were dems.

    Since at least 1968 I have listened to people who were raised in homes that were bought and paid for by people who benefitted from the New Deal, the G.I. Bill, VA mortgage guarantees and other programs that were forced on them by the dems complain about their LEFTWARD drift–mainly because they support ALL persons' rights and not just the white, middle-class***. Those people have been consistently shedding their liberalism and become either refucKKKliKKKlansmen, Lieberpublicanz or simply "Ride for free while complaining about the bumps in the road" independents. When I was in the IBEW, the only dems that my local turned out for were THEIR local candidates for city, county/state lege or Congressional seats. They voted for Nixon, Reagan, both Bushes and Trumpligulamygdala. Fuck. Those. Assholes.

    Organize, help where/when you can. Get your candidates on the lower end of the ballot, have them work their way up. That's the only way it's going to work unless the gunz come out, then it will be over, anyway.

    @ Bernard:

    Still trolling. Трахни свою мать

    * I say "supposed" as I have no fucking idea who most of the people who complain here about the DNC even are.

    ** I don't like them either, but "They're all the same!"? Seriously?

    *** Largely created by those same out-of-touch liberal dems.

  • I knew Ol’ Zell, well enough to be invited to his son’s weddings: at one point Willie Nelson was a frequent guest of The Governor’s mansion when he was there..he had an loud birthday party with Free Beer and country bands at some ghastly ATL hotel ballroom..one must remember he got his start as Lester Maddox’ Chief of staff, and in his old age, reverted to type..

  • (For all y'all non southreners (sic) out there, Lester Maddox was Georgia's answer to George Wallace.)

  • @ Geoff:

    I remember reading about Lester's Pickrick drumsticks back in the 60's. Maddox, like Wallace, was an absolute piece-of-shit. That he was a democrat speaks volumes about tribalism, especially in light of his hostility towards p.o.c.

    It seems that we are never going to be rid of populist racist, lying fuckbags as the TikiNazis demonstrated so well a while back.

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