Sunday, November 7, 2010

Democracy

I enjoyed watching the argument in the video below, between Glenn Greenwald and Lawrence O'Donnell on Joe Scarborough's show on Friday.  In response to Greenwald's argument that Democrats should have run more to the left, because progressive Democrats retained their seats for the most part, while half the Blue Dogs in the House lost; O'Donnell asked the simple question: "Where do the liberals live?  They live in safe districts."   As happens in every election in which power shifts in the House, it was the representatives who live in swing districts who lost their seats.  And it seems pretty hard to argue that more liberal candidates in those swing districts would have retained their seats.  Therefore O'Donnell's point that the Democrats should have been thanking the Blue Dogs for allowing leaders like Nancy Pelosi the chance to obtain power in the first place, instead of blaming the Blue Dogs for their loss, seems irrefutable.

I also found it refreshing to hear O'Donnell's admission that his own political leanings are far to the left of the mainstream.  He recognizes that his own positions--such as banning all guns in America--have no chance of being enacted.  I feel the same way about some of my own crackpot ideas.  For example, I think we ought to tax gasoline at about the same rate that we tax cigarettes, or at the rate they tax gasoline in Europe, but I understand that such a proposal has no chance of being enacted in this country right now.  So I don't feel terribly let down if nobody is pushing for a $4 a gallon gas tax.  And I get tired of hearing way too many liberals whining about feeling betrayed because their particular policy preferences--whether gay marriage, or tougher financial regulations, or withdrawal from Afghanistan, or a more progressive health care bill--were not pursued strongly enough.  In all cases, it seems to me that the Obama administration pursued the policies it did either because of a good faith belief that they did not have the votes to do more, or because of a good faith belief that their policies were sound.  I don't understand how anyone could expect more than that.  I especially don't understand how people can expect that any administration would follow exactly their own personal policy preferences.  To expect that seems to reflect a willful failure to recognize that not everyone in America shares any particular person's personal preferences. We live in a democracy with a wide spectrum of views, and no matter the size of either party's majority at any particular time, they cannot expect to enact their agenda in toto, or even in substantial part, without provoking a backlash.  The new Republican firebrands in Congress will learn this same lesson soon enough.


2 comments:

  1. Very insightful thoughts. I'll re-read this a few times.

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  2. A very spirited debate.

    I rarely agree with O'Donnell but I must say that I agree with him in this instance. Nancy Pelosi's district is in a liberal redoubt that will never vote GOP come hell or high water; And she and others like Barney Frank, Shumer, etc knew this when ObamaCare was crafted and signed into law--they were safe but the Blue Dogs were summarily walked into fixed bayonets on election night.

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