Friday, April 15, 2011

Democrats on the road to self-destruction and/or irrelevance

Digby earlier this week in Protection Racket Hullabaloo 04/10/2011 stated well the unpleasant situation in which progressive/liberal politics now finds itself in the United States. Noting that polls show that Democratic voters are more impressed with the idea of the Democrats compromising with the Republicans right now, she observes that it's possible that the Obama and the Democrats will get a short-term political lift for their latest defeat, this one on the budget deal. Then she writes:

While the Democratic Party very well "win" from time to time and the party will play its role in the kabuki dance -- that of "protector" of an ever dwindling handful of ever smaller signature programs to keep the desperate progressive faction on board --- liberalism itself has suffered a terrible and perhaps mortal blow. To have a Democratic president of the United States adopt austerity and extol it as an historic victory the midst of ongoing high unemployment and a moribund economy means that the argument is basically over. This is not Franklin Roosevelt's puny GOP opposition and the Democratic Party does not have the middle class loyalty it had in 1937 to withstand making this kind of monumental error. Neither are we likely to be rescued by a war machine --- it's already cranked. No, the Democratic Party is formally relinquishing its historic claim to represent the economic interests of working families. The best we can hope for is that they "protect" us from a full blown Theocracy or a return to Jim Crow. (After all, they need to get elected somehow or they won't get a share of the spoils.)
Part of me believed it could never come to this. But it's happening right now.

It's worth noting that polls asking in a general way for people's opinions on the value of "compromise" may give ambiguous results. One person's idea of what compromise means may be very different from another's. But if we use as a standard what "liberalism" has meant in the United States since the New Deal, the reality is that President Obama is a conservative leader. If the Democratic Administration goes after Medicare and Social Security, most people in the United States will be facing economic regression even more serious than what has been occurring since 1981.

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