Posts tagged ‘big tent’

Democratic Strategic Vision – Lack Thereof and the Big Tent

I would write this morning about the Village Idiot in Chief and his trashing of the office of the Presidency, his disregard and lack of respect for the rule of law, his nationalistic racism, his trashing of the media and the free press, calling again for the imprisonment of a political rival (lock her up), his blatant obstruction of justice, his destruction of State, EPA, FDA, Education, and his continuous lying from the podium. His last communication director ought to be a wakeup call for how he is making the United States a mockery. But to tell you the truth, most of the above is being well covered by the media.

Those horrible leaks are what are keeping us informed voters. Of course the Republican Party is still in denial. I heard one respected Republican tell us he could not imagine Trump firing Sessions now. I can. Oh and the same one argued that this bunch is not his Republican Party. Sadly it is everyone else's and if you call yourself a Republican and vote that way, you enabled what we are living through. But I digress.

This morning Fareed Zachary on CNN Global GPS show opined that the Democrats were making the same mistake they made many years ago by not listening to pro-life voices and not being a big enough tent:

In 1992, the Democratic Party faced a challenge on the issue of abortion. Pennsylvania’s governor, Robert Casey, a Democrat dedicated to the working class, asked to speak at the national convention in New York City. He wanted to propose a pro-life plank for the party platform, mostly as a way of affirming his Catholic beliefs.

He fully understood that the motion would be voted down, but the Democratic Party refused to permit him even to air his views, so great was his heresy. “That sent a strong signal to working-class Catholic and evangelical voters that if they did not fall into line on this one issue they were no longer welcome in the party,” writes Mark Lilla in “The Once and Future Liberal,” his brief but brilliant book that comes out later this month.

I wonder if today the Democrats are making the same mistake on immigration. To be clear, I think the bill that the Republicans rolled out this week is bad public policy and mean-spirited symbolism. But that’s beside the point. Lilla acknowledges that he is a pro-choice absolutist on abortion, but he argues that a national party must build a big tent that accommodates people who dissent from the main party line on a few issues.

I would make two observations here. First the two issues are nowhere near the same, abortion and immigration. Secondly, exactly what is the Democratic position on immigration other than being against Trump, his wall, and the latest abomination Fareed cites above? Let's take them one at a time.

In the pro-life question, note that in the language of the two sides is the real truth of what is really going on. Pro-life is not pro-life. They are anti-abortion. If they were pro-life and just wanted to argue for you to keep an unwanted child however begot, they already have that right. But that is not what they want. They want to use government to outlaw abortions and force government into private discussions with your doctor, your husband, your control of your own body. They want to take away the right to choose.

Pro-choice is pro choice. They are not as the Pro-life side depicts them, pro-abortion. They are not even suggesting that abortion is a good thing. They simply don't want government to decide for you, and force you to have an abortion. In fact all they want is that you can have that choice and that you can control your own body (within already well defined limits).

So what Fareed thinks is a great mistake, not allowing the gentleman to propose a pro-life plank and thus sending "working-class Catholic and evangelical voters" on their way, was really a decision about the very basic beliefs of Democrats, that people should have free choice to decide for themselves that most basic and personal decision. Would you allow a communist to argue for a communistic platform for a bigger tent? This is not some policy that may or may not work, this is about a basic value of who we are as Democrats.

Using government to force people to make decisions because others have religious convictions is not only against the Constitution, but everything Democrats stand for. And Fareed thinks we should open our arms to them? If we do, I don't know who we are anymore, and I strongly believe that people are voting against us just for that reason. Instead of pandering to those who believe things that are antithetical to basic Democratic beliefs, maybe we should focus on getting those who did not vote last time back out to the polls.

Now on immigration, I have no idea what the Democratic position is. That is the major problem with Democrats right now whether it is healthcare, tax reform, or in this case immigration, what is the party platform? So I am waiting to understand what our Immigration absolutism is.  What is the basis from which Democrats could negotiate with Republicans? I have no idea and what we are left with is either "Republican ideas suck", or a piecemeal approach by individuals within the party (herding cats). That is why Republicans win with the weak-minded. They are firm in what they want whether it is good policy or not.

For immigration policy, unlike the abortion issue which is driven by religious belief*, it needs to be driven by science and data. What works best for our country. This is not some he said/she said argument. We have the facts. Republicans are running on emotion. They think we need less because they are blaming everything on immigrants. It is not based on fact, but anecdotes. There is no question that there are strong feelings about this, but the policy has to based not on fear, but on what works.

Economists are telling us that broad immigration really helps our economy. Do we need to be more selective? Maybe, but it needs to be thought out. Some would argue that allowing in more educated and trained immigrants actually allows corporations to drive down wages. Keeping out the lower economic classes and uneducated immigrants could hurt other sectors of our economy like agriculture and cuts off a path to the American dream for those who want to come here and work hard. The Republican's stand on amnesty is cruel and inhuman, based on racism and fear. We should negotiate that? Should we have a big tent for bigots?

My point is simply that Democrats can be a big tent on immigration within limits. Clearly we can argue within the party about how to control immigration to protect jobs, while at the same time providing for a growing economy. That is way different that an argument about using the government to take away a basic human right, the right to chose and I wonder why Fareed used this example.

He is really arguing the FDR liberalism of fairness for everyone against the special interest politics that we see (a black agenda, a white middle class agenda, a well-educated innovator agenda) from Democrats today (identity liberalism). And he is right here and suggests that we as Democrats see the fear that those who went right on immigration feel and welcome them into the tent. And here is where I have a really big problem. What does that mean? That we play Republican fear tactics or does it mean we recognize the problem but use data and science to craft effective policy?

Fareed tells us:

Democrats should find a middle path on immigration. They can battle President Trump’s drastic solutions but still speak in the language of national unity and identity. The country’s motto, after all, is “out of many, one” — not the other way around.

I don't think so. Middle ground can only be found where there is a real and rational difference of opinion. Policy should be based on facts, history, science, and data. If the facts, history, science, and data tell us the other side wants to do something bad for the country based upon ideology and fear, why should we as Democrats find a middle ground to have a bigger tent? We should fight for what we know is right, again not based on ideology, but by that fact and data thing. We should only make compromises when the facts are not clear and we are really arguing ideology instead of efficacy.  Otherwise just who the hell are we?

*Actually our policy on abortion is based upon science, when is life considered viable, does the fetus feel pain, etc. The fact that that has been contested does not mean their are differing opinions based on fact. It means that one side will make up science to agree with their ideological beliefs, but the overwhelming data still supports the laws we have. If and when that changes, we would be happy to discuss.

Tough Love

I would argue that Democrats have been their own worst enemy.  Their failure to fully embrace a Progressive future and buying into the Econ 101 arguments of Republicans has left them standing for nothing, Republican Lite so to speak.  Many would argue, they did the best they could in difficult times and change is hard.  I would argue that losing the Presidency, House, Senate and most state houses tells you how well that strategy is working. Note that the Republicans applied a strategy of total obstruction, something our pundits now warn Democrats not to do, and won.  Yes, it was irresponsible government, but in the war of ideas, they won.  And the war of ideas is all that really counts.  So now Republicans have a chance to do what they promised in regard to repealing Obamacare and we have this:

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan spoke at length this past week about a three-stage effort: First, with only Republican votes, repeal major parts of the health law and put in place some new provisions. Second, let Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price use regulatory powers to try to stabilize insurance markets. Third, pressure Democrats to help with a series of bills to complete the replacement and change the health care system more to the liking of conservatives.


Now if they fall for this, as they are wont to do, they are dead as a Party.  I have argued before and I will again until I am blue in the face, the market place is not the appropriate instrument for healthcare and it will fail.  Democrats “got the best they could get” with Obamacare which Americans began to appreciate in the last couple of years,  but it still was a market placed based insurance system and full of problems.  Now the only way to improve Obamacare is to move toward a single payer system and anything less will be, well, less.  To try to join with Republicans to fix their disastrous replacement plan is to be part of that disaster.  Again, they will be Republican Lite with another failed plan and stand for nothing except bleeding heart fools who enable Republicans.

The Progressives in the Party get this.  The Party Establishment and those still in control miss it entirely.  They think they can just lean a little more left and things will work out fine.  That was Hillary to a T.  She was a package of plans that leaned left, but not a progressive vision.  I don’t fault her for that.  That is how her husband succeeded and how most Democrats see survival in a nation split 50-50.  But as they say, the times they are a changing.  More and more people do not belong to a party.  In fact, most young people think the problem is party politics.  From what I have seen, it is.

So the lesson to me is clear.  Stand for something and don’t compromise for half a loaf (this blog is just full of clichés today).  We either believe in global warming and stand for doing something or not.  No more cowing to coal state Democrats.  We either believe in a woman’s right to choice or not.  We either believe in strengthening our safety nets (Social Security, Food Stamps) or not.  We either believe in a single payer healthcare system or not.  We either believe in investing in our infrastructure and raising taxes to do that or not.  We either believe in higher education affordable to all those who can qualify or not.  So if you stand in the or not column or even the sorta column, get out of the Party.  Big tent my ass.  All a big tent does is make us a mindless mob.


UPDATE:  Here is an example in my own backyard of a Democrat who does not get it.

“I’m not here to bash my Republican colleagues. I think they care about this country as much as we do,” Bera said at one point, drawing cries of “No, they don’t!”

“It’s going to take Democrats and Republicans coming together to solve these challenges,” he said, a message met with only scattered applause. “You shouldn’t want the Republicans to do it on their own. You should want to open the conversation.”…

Rick Barreto, the legislative director for the American Postal Workers Local 66 union in Sacramento, criticized Bera for hedging on issues like sanctuary cities to appeal to Republicans in his moderate district, rather than supporting the progressive stances of the Democrats who elected him. Bera won by about 2 percentage points in November.

“Society has moved to the left,” Barreto said, adding that unless Bera “comes home” to his base, “there’s a good chance there will be” a more liberal primary challenger in 2018.