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Article - 'Democrats and the Aftermath' by PaulC

An item about Miscellanious posted on Dec 9, 2004

Blurb

Opinion/Editorial - Democrats need to stop finger-pointing over the U.S. elections and start fighting as an opposition party. By PaulC

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Note: This article is the first editorial I’ve posted on GW. The idea is a bit experimental; these are basically short opinion pieces intended to start some new arguments or discussions, based off topics of interest and debate in the forums. I’m initially writing about politics and such, but depending on response I'll gradually shift my focus and treatment.

Democrats and the Aftermath

A month after a very difficult election day, it seems United States liberals are still in shock. Horrible news from Iraq and surges of activity from energized conservatives slip quickly off the front pages without widespread notice or public discussion, as demoralized democrats spend their time snapping at each other over the "direction of the party" and spew venom at "red-staters," Michael Moore, party leadership, and anyone else who comes to mind. New evidence of Iraqi prisoner abuse and testimony revealing a US military increasingly desperate for soldiers have been allowed to fade from the public conciousness without much comment or coverage. An astoundingly conservative group of cabinet appointees looks as though they will win approval without even symbolic Democratic resistance. The right wing freely launches crusades against the UN and towards intervention in Iran without a strong public challenge. The left is in disarray in the United States to an embarrassing degree; opposition to the now-dominant Republicans has taken a backseat to self-doubt, finger pointing, and the occasional ugly outlash at Middle America. Where aggressive liberal reporting remains present, mainly thanks to the efforts of the ACLU and alternative websites such as Salon.com and Daily Kos, the bulk of the party has busily ignored it. More often we’ve been treated to repetitive, accusatory commentary explaining why it’s all Michael Moore’s fault, or the centrists’ fault, or the ignorant Christians’ fault; meanwhile, Republicans have spent the last month marching forward practically uncontested.

To a degree, such reactions on the part of Democrats are only to be expected. It's hard not to be frustrated with the party that managed to lose huge against one of the most extremist Republican candidates in recent history - or the country that handed it that loss. It’s undeniable that effort needs to go into rethinking the Democratic strategy for the next presidential election. Obsessing over such things to the point of forgetting to oppose the Republicans, however, is a massive and obvious strategic blunder. It’ll be entirely too late to build real opposition in this country if Democrats don’t start trying until the primaries are over and the inside squabbles resolved.

The main problem here is the depressing conception that with the election lost, pressing the attack is now pointless, a sense of futility that naturally spawns this sort of bickering - and nicely paves the way for Bush to do anything and everything he wants. On the contrary, nothing could be more important right now to the Democratic Party’s continued vitality than keeping up constant resistance. An opposition party grows into power not through dwelling on their losses but through constantly pressing the offensive and holding the government accountable for its failures. There'll be enough time for debating the direction of the party in 2007; what the Democratic Party needs now is to focus on fighting wherever and however it can, to keep pressure on the Republicans, to expose their mistakes and slow the momentum their agenda has gained. Democrats may be in the minority currently, but they are still a very powerful minority, with the strength to significantly hamper the Republican agenda and establish strong support for future elections. Neither of those things can happen until people start moving on and fighting again.

It’s time leftists in the United States get over what has happened and start thinking pragmatically about preventing this administration from doing irreparable harm to this country and the world. If collective liberal efforts could get a story about a weird lump on George Bush’s back onto headlines in mainstream media around the world, they can certainly manage to get some lasting publicity for the current accusations of military officers deliberately covering up torture in Iraq. It’s entirely possible the current bickering and unproductive anger will soon end, and the energies of the 48% will again be directed towards fighting conservatives; but if it doesn’t happen soon, there isn’t much hope for this party to put up any better a fight the next time around.