Reticent Liberalism vs. Unabashed Liberalism

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NeantHumain
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22 Aug 2010, 12:34 pm

In the United States, the Democratic Party covers a large ideological range, with liberals and progressives being a large chunk of the active and vocal base, but with many of its politicians tending towards centrism (Democratic Leadership Council and the Clintonian New Democrats; also Barack Obama) or even conservatism (see Blue Dog Democrats). Even among Democratic politicians who sympathize with progressive values, there is a distinct tendency to run away from them at the first sign of propaganda from the Republican opposition. When Republicans say, "The American people don't want this!" they seem to believe them and cower instead of taking it for the position-jockeying rhetoric that it is. Then many Democrats believe in compromise and finding a middle ground as a value in its own sake (President Barack Obama). This is splendid when all sides are willing to negotiate in good faith, but good-faith negotiators will just be trampled over by an opposition that uses negotiation as nothing more than a stall tactic and a way to water down a proposal before voting against it anyway.

When Democrats merely listen to polls, they are being reactive; they are ceding leadership to the opposition minority. I am not suggesting Democrats go so far as the Republicans during the Bush years, where Republicans in Congress voted in unison for most of George W. Bush's proposals and where President Bush ignored all public opinion against his agenda; what I am suggesting is that the Democrats be more willing to sell liberalism, even to Middle America. It also doesn't help that Democrats too are recipients of large amounts of campaign contributions from corporations; this is a major regressive force in U.S. politics across party lines.



NeantHumain
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22 Aug 2010, 9:07 pm

In short, what I'm trying to say is that liberalism would be more popular if politicians were willing to champion it instead of running from it.



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22 Aug 2010, 9:44 pm

Let's not forget all the pitfalls of polls - people are more likely to agree with a positively phrased statement, the poor (if done through electronic medium or telephone) can be underrepresented, there's always a margin of error, you only hear about certain polls, etc.



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22 Aug 2010, 9:45 pm

The underlying issue is that right-leaning ideology is supported by those who have all the power, because that's who it benefits -- corporations, the wealthy, the ruling class. Therefore politicians who espouse Republican and right-wing ideals can pretty much do whatever they want and say whatever they want because those who hold all the strings will always back them up.

Liberals don't have that powerful base to back them up, so liberal politicians are always backing down, because they have no real choice. If there was very strong popular support for liberal and progressive ideals, they could get some traction (the Civil Rights Act, for instance, was passed because the public demanded it and refused to back down) but the propaganda from the right is so powerful that the people don't know what to believe, and they get sucked in by ideas that run counter to their own best interests.

I agree that liberal politicians should be willing to champion their own ideals, and that they should be proud of their stance instead of always capitulating, but the system as it stands makes that nearly impossible. Look at Dennis Kucinich. He was the only sane presidential candidate, but he got so little exposure, and virtually no support from those who would have had the power to make his voice heard, that his candidacy was almost entirely ignored.



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22 Aug 2010, 9:51 pm

NeantHumain wrote:
In short, what I'm trying to say is that liberalism would be more popular if politicians were willing to champion it instead of running from it.

In large part, this is true. Democrats are often perceived as "weak" because they fail to really push their agenda as aggressively as Republicans do. I mean, look at the record of vacillation and general indecisiveness in the Obama administration—if any Republican came in with that kind of popular mandate and that big a lead in Congress, there would be absolutely zero talk of "negotiation," "compromise," or "bipartisanship." They would simply push their agenda through and any opposition would be crushed to a fine powder.


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skafather84
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22 Aug 2010, 11:11 pm

I'm all in favor of unabashed liberalism. I have no clue why there aren't better liberal attack dogs. It's not like as if the democrats are so stupid that they can't realize what's done. There's only defensive measures taken. Need more offense. Maybe just a good up the gut runner.


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23 Aug 2010, 12:52 am

Orwell wrote:
NeantHumain wrote:
In short, what I'm trying to say is that liberalism would be more popular if politicians were willing to champion it instead of running from it.

In large part, this is true. Democrats are often perceived as "weak" because they fail to really push their agenda as aggressively as Republicans do. I mean, look at the record of vacillation and general indecisiveness in the Obama administration—if any Republican came in with that kind of popular mandate and that big a lead in Congress, there would be absolutely zero talk of "negotiation," "compromise," or "bipartisanship." They would simply push their agenda through and any opposition would be crushed to a fine powder.


Republicans can't come to power without the co-operation of the Independent Voters. The Republicans as a party are a chronic minority party.

ruveyn



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23 Aug 2010, 10:00 am

ruveyn wrote:
Republicans can't come to power without the co-operation of the Independent Voters. The Republicans as a party are a chronic minority party.

ruveyn

They also can't come to power without the cooperation of the far-right religious fundamentalists. A lot of people who call themselves Independents are really just Republicans who want to pretend that they don't have party loyalties. I knew a lot of those types growing up.

As far as a chronic minority party, from 1970 to now the Republicans have held the presidency for 26 years, the Democrats for 14.


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ruveyn
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23 Aug 2010, 10:23 am

Orwell wrote:
ruveyn wrote:
Republicans can't come to power without the co-operation of the Independent Voters. The Republicans as a party are a chronic minority party.

ruveyn

They also can't come to power without the cooperation of the far-right religious fundamentalists. A lot of people who call themselves Independents are really just Republicans who want to pretend that they don't have party loyalties. I knew a lot of those

As far as a chronic minority party, from 1970 to now the Republicans have held the presidency for 26 years, the Democrats for 14.


Showing the leverage of the Independent voters. They actually hold the power in elections.

ruveyn



skafather84
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23 Aug 2010, 10:56 am

ruveyn wrote:
Orwell wrote:
ruveyn wrote:
Republicans can't come to power without the co-operation of the Independent Voters. The Republicans as a party are a chronic minority party.

ruveyn

They also can't come to power without the cooperation of the far-right religious fundamentalists. A lot of people who call themselves Independents are really just Republicans who want to pretend that they don't have party loyalties. I knew a lot of those

As far as a chronic minority party, from 1970 to now the Republicans have held the presidency for 26 years, the Democrats for 14.


Showing the leverage of the Independent voters. They actually hold the power in elections.

ruveyn


Orwell wrote:
A lot of people who call themselves Independents are really just Republicans who want to pretend that they don't have party loyalties.


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NeantHumain
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23 Aug 2010, 7:29 pm

ruveyn wrote:
Showing the leverage of the Independent voters. They actually hold the power in elections.

And again, this shows that Republicans are often better at delivering their message, and they deliver in unison. My opinion is that liberals would better reach out to independent (nominally or otherwise) voters if they delivered their message with greater confidence. I'm disgusted by Republicans' greater tendency towards a Machiavellian Realpolitik—their willingness to exploit fear and bigotry for political gain, for example, or their willingness to lie outright and brazenly—but it gets them results until the public gets absolutely sick of it (by November 2008, for instance).



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23 Aug 2010, 8:05 pm

I've said it before and I'll say it again, liberalism would be much more palatable to many independent swing voters if they'd drop their many social policy albatrosses and reign in their impulse to get the government involved in every little thing. With both political ideologies pretty much locked in to broadly similar economic models by their major donors and lobbies, votes get decided more on the cultural issues than anything else.


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ruveyn
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23 Aug 2010, 8:27 pm

Orwell wrote:
They also can't come to power without the cooperation of the far-right religious fundamentalists. A lot of people who call themselves Independents are really just Republicans who want to pretend that they don't have party loyalties. I knew a lot of those types growing up.


If they have no party loyalty there are neither Democrat or Republican or any other identifiable party. Most Independents I know vote on the man/woman not the party affiliation. I was from Massachussetts where Independent voters are rather proud of not being in the thrall of any political party.

ruveyn



NeantHumain
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23 Aug 2010, 10:14 pm

Dox47 wrote:
I've said it before and I'll say it again, liberalism would be much more palatable to many independent swing voters if they'd drop their many social policy albatrosses and reign in their impulse to get the government involved in every little thing.

You know, I've often thought that Republicans could make themselves more appealing by dropping unnecessary, divisive, and often bigoted social stands and reign in their lust for privatizing absolutely everything and anything in sight.



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23 Aug 2010, 10:51 pm

ruveyn wrote:
Orwell wrote:
They also can't come to power without the cooperation of the far-right religious fundamentalists. A lot of people who call themselves Independents are really just Republicans who want to pretend that they don't have party loyalties. I knew a lot of those types growing up.


If they have no party loyalty there are neither Democrat or Republican or any other identifiable party. Most Independents I know vote on the man/woman not the party affiliation. I was from Massachussetts where Independent voters are rather proud of not being in the thrall of any political party.

ruveyn

OK, but my point is that a lot of people who claim to be such are full of crap. I know people who call themselves "independents" but vote straight-ticket Republican in every single election. I'm sure in other parts of the country, there are liberals who do the same thing.


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