Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Beyond Bush-Bashing: Conducting Ourselves With Grace

Guest Article from Ashok.

1. Even in a period considered "lame duck," during an election many media outlets call "historic," President Bush can't catch a break. He has to be slammed, this time on economics - after all, everyone knows no growth occurred during the Bush years and that Obama's tax plan is the soundest thing for an ailing economy, right? We also know that Democrats did everything they could to stop the mortgage crisis from happening.

I'd like to sell everyone in the Democratic party a bridge in Brooklyn, but their welfare checks haven't come in the mail yet and I won't make any money right now.

Let's get to the main issue: the Left has gained far more strength than anyone should by kicking George Bush around for 8 years, and getting libertarians, conservatives and centrists who should have known better to join in the beating. The attacks have gotten so ridiculous that you could literally be on death row and joke you're smarter than the President and people would laugh with you. To take a small example: we all know the bailout is crap, right? After all, the President proposed it and some nutjobs on Internet forums said it was giving to the rich. Never mind the fact that the President had no incentive - given his approval rating, the lame duck status the various threats by historians to make sure he's remembered as the "worst President in history" - to get us out of this mess other than doing his job. And given the flack he was taking for doing his job before, why should he have cared? The bailout still passed, and even though I have ideological objections to it, I'll put my main objection to the objectors in writing: if you think you know better than the President, go run for the job next time out, and see if you have the guts to take a 30% approval rating for years on end, watch people make films and design posters that feature you getting killed, and hear non-stop about your "war crimes" even as there hasn't been another terror attack on American soil since 9/11.

2. Well, our friends on the Left have a problem now. Bush is gone. The Democrats have had Congress for 2 years now. They're accountable for a lot of what we're seeing that American voters won't put up with next election cycle.

So how are they responding? Surely they need to do something to consolidate power besides take the Presidency and more of Congress. I mean, there are plenty voting Democrat that don't know about basic Leftist causes, things like FISA, the status of NAFTA and campaign finance reform, for example. Maybe they should be putting together a guide to various Progressive groups and what they believe in and encouraging people to find their niche. They could be activists and learning more about their own beliefs simultaneously doing that.

Maybe they could be putting together reading lists so that way gossipy attack books about Republicans weren't the only thing read. They could unite on positive grounds instead of always being in attack mode.

Nope, they've settled on their strategy. We're all seeing it in action now, actually. The trick is to isolate the few wingnuts who have said things about Senator Obama that are not defensible, and say they represent all Republicans or right-leaning people.

They're going to continue in attack mode until it fails. This actually opens up a huge door for Republicans, even just in terms of being online.

The more we can show we have it together, that we're even-handed and don't need conspiracy theory to advance our cause, we'll pick up the strays falling off the Progressive bandwagon.

And there are going to be people falling off, believe me. No one likes the idea of spending 10% more of our GDP for some crappy healthcare and a few more jobs for Pelosi and Reid's friends. The mere fact Obama may be the President would put him in a Constitutionally defined conflict with Congress, even as Congress used his inexperience to grab more power and dollars for itself. He'd have to focus on national security matters somewhat, and that alone would cause tensions. And as mentioned above, it isn't clear what the Democratic Congress has done/will do that will be notable in a good way.

3. My own thought is that if conservatives get away from ranting on political issues immediately and start using the Internet for learning and communicating more generally, we'll be less apt to be wingnutty and have other things to talk to people with open minds about. No one's gonna be convinced by people shouting "Obama is a Muslim." I'm conservative and I walk away from people that say that kind of thing. But a lot more people pay attention when you say "Obama's notion of a tax credit is very different from what is meant by tax cut," and still more pay attention when you say something like "it isn't clear how liberty and equality reconcile in American history, Lincoln and Jefferson have similar but divergent opinions on the latter notion especially."

The appeal of conservative values is precisely that magic word, "values." We're here because there are things other than government that we value. Ultimately, what drives our Progressive friends is the idea that the voice of the people, instantiate through government, can craft the future. That's one, unified sense of value, and there's something to that.

But we're a more diverse bunch, I hope, with much to share. My idea is just one idea, that could have given us a Left that was less rabid and more thoughtful years ago. It's too late for them now, they're wed to their party. The party building has to happen as candidates are being considered and votes are being gathered.

All of you have much to teach me. From conservative blogs alone these past few months I've learned more about 70's rock than I ever wanted to know, heard some amazing and interesting stories of military life, listened carefully as people talked about the quiet moments of grace that brought them to faith. I want to hear more of that sort of thing, and still more. We've flooded the Internet with conservative media, but all of one sort: news that gets us hyped up and angry. It's like a drug, and sometimes it works - it worked for Kos and co.

We can go down that road and still win - there will be enough fissures in the Democrats in a few months. But I think the challenge is how we win. This fiasco of an election should teach us all one thing: anyone can win an election - Kos' "winnerism" is an "ideology" that disproves itself.

In Response To: Fine With Me

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