Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

March 11, 2005

by J

Disappointing Dems

Ok, so I guess I'm not done yet. Or, really, I'm still burnt out, but Shakespeare's Sister expressed it much better than me in this post lamenting the continuing disappointing Democrats.
The confirmations of Condi Rice, Alberto Gonzales, and Michael Chertoff … the slow response to broaching voting accountability legislation … the passage of a measure to limit class-action lawsuits … the bankruptcy bill … the constant move toward the center … and on and on and on. I complain about the idiocy of the Dems almost as much as I do the Republicans, and I’m starting to get more than a little pissed off.

I once wrote about how the red-staters who vote against their own best interests don’t seem to understand their leadership, but that we on the Left seem to suffer from the opposite problem—our leadership doesn’t understand its base. The problem is only getting worse; I feel increasingly alienated from the Democratic leadership in Washington, and by the looks of things across the Lefty blogosphere, I’m not alone.

If you are, like me, a true progressive, you’re being let down by the Democrats. They can’t pull together an effective opposition, they can’t deliver a concise message, and they sell out liberal interests in a heartbeat as they make a break for a muddy middle, which they inexplicably remain convinced will help them win elections. I’m finding myself increasingly required to defend positions (such as gay rights or legal abortion)—to other Dems—that shouldn’t even be in question.
Harry "Minority Leader" Reid voted for the morally and ethically bankrupt bankruptcy bill. As someone in SS's comment thread said:
Let's call our political system what it is -- the "for the richies" and the "for the little guys". Sad to say that the majority of this country, the little guys, have the minority of representation.
I am currently in a "comfortable middle class" economic situation. However, I grew up poor-to-lower-middle-class and I know what it's like to scramble for money to pay a utility bill. I live constantly in fear of a Bad Thing happening that will pull the rug out from underneath me. And the more I read and learn about how the Republicans are seeking to dismantle every good thing this country has put in place to promote secure, safe, livable communities, the further it has pushed me to the traditional 'left.' And then to see the Democrats refuse over and over again to call out the Republicans for their attempts to dismantle the middle class is just utterly disheartening. Dean seems muzzled, so far, as I feared, at the DNC. And I see so few others who will call a spade a spade.

Paul Krugman wrote recently:
But the underlying economic trends have been reinforced by an ideologically driven effort to strip away the protections the government used to provide. For example, long-term unemployment has become much more common, but unemployment benefits expire sooner. Health insurance coverage is declining, but new initiatives like health savings accounts (introduced in the 2003 Medicare bill), rather than discouraging that trend, further undermine the incentives of employers to provide coverage.

Above all, of course, at a time when ever-fewer workers can count on pensions from their employers, the current administration wants to phase out Social Security.

The bankruptcy bill fits right into this picture. When everything else goes wrong, Americans can still get a measure of relief by filing for bankruptcy - and rising insecurity means that they are forced to do this more often than in the past. But Congress is now poised to make bankruptcy law harsher, too.

Warren Buffett recently made headlines by saying America is more likely to turn into a "sharecroppers' society" than an "ownership society." But I think the right term is a "debt peonage" society - after the system, prevalent in the post-Civil War South, in which debtors were forced to work for their creditors. The bankruptcy bill won't get us back to those bad old days all by itself, but it's a significant step in that direction.
Debt-peonage. Fabulous. Not the America I grew up believing in, though. We are living in dark times that will only become darker...
Posted by J at March 11, 2005 11:39 AM

Great post. Thanks for the link.

[comment re-submitted by J after an accidental deletion.]

Posted by: Shakespeare's Sister at March 11, 2005 04:56 PM

Recommended Reading:

The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's Memoir
The Politics of Truth... A Diplomat's Memoir

Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush

Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke
Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

LIES by Al Franken
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right

The Great Unraveling
The Great Unraveling

The Great Big Book of Tomorrow
The Great Big Book of Tomorrow

Clinton Wars
The Clinton Wars

Blinded by the Right
Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative

Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat

Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture

Living History

The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

John Adams

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace

In Association with Amazon.com