28 October 2008

"There is not a Red America or a Blue America, there is a scared shitless America"

Oliver actually makes an important point here (and if you're not listening to Oliver and Zaltzman on The Bugle podcast every week, you must go and subscribe now). Democrats may have lamented the politics of fear for the past six years, but they've never been afraid to use appeals to fear for their own ends. Corporate-centrist Dems point to the increasingly unhinged extremism of the GOP as the reason why left-of-center voters must support them at all costs. The Democrats may be weak, but etting the current Republicans back in power would present catastrophic risks.

This is why, if you want better Democrats, you'll have to get better Republicans first. The Democrats are the reactionary party in American poiltics; they'll only ever go as far left as they need to go to distinguish themselves from the GOP. So, while it may be gratifying to see moderate Republicans and paleoconservatives lining up behind Obama, we ultimately are going to need those people back in charge of their old party to drum out the wingnuts. They should be compelled to return because, as a strictly practical matter, we are still a two-party system, and the public will return to the Republican Party when they are dissastisfied with donkey rule. If the nuts are still leading the party, this won't benefit anyone.

From a progressive point of view, we need sane Republicans who, while we may have important political disagreements, won't actually endanger the future of the planet if they come to power. If the GOP becomes the party of people like Andrew Bacevich, they may even represent a persuasive alternative. Then, if the Democrats want to keep progressives under the tent, they'll have to make a real pitch on policy grounds instead of the familiar lesser-evilism of the past few elections.