Monday, November 16, 2009

Such Refreshing Honesty!

Peter Beinart's piece (a few days old, thanks blondie for the link) is truly like a breath of fresh air, invigorating, testosterone-laden fresh air. He lays out in detail the reasons why the Democratic Party started losing power:

Yet it was that big, ugly Democratic Party that from Franklin Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson pushed through Social Security, the Wagner Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Food Stamps, Head Start, Medicare and Medicaid (with occasional help from the then-extant progressive wing of the GOP). Some of the Democratic bigots opposed these economic reforms, to be sure. But others backed them; they genuinely wanted to curb the savagery and chaos of unfettered capitalism. They just wanted to preserve white, male supremacy too.

This was the devil's pact that defined the Democratic Party for more than three decades, until the civil rights and women's movement forced party leaders to choose. They reluctantly chose racial and gender equality, and so the racists and the misogynists drifted away. The Democratic Party became culturally liberal: pro-affirmative action, pro-choice, and smaller, since the old racists and sexists, now repackaged as racial and sexual conservatives, flocked to the GOP. Starting in 1968, Democrats began consistently losing the presidency. And in 1994, the realignment finally trickled down to the House of Representatives, and the Democrats lost that, too.

So what to do? What to do? The only thing to do is to lure the racists and sexists back, and that's exactly what Beinart argues has happened. It began with the game to get pro-birth Democrats elected in conservative regions of the country and it continued with the netroots movement:

But had big-tentism been merely a strategy by Democratic leaders, it would have failed. Just as important was the emergence, in the Bush years, of a new liberal grassroots—the "netroots"—which is generally hostile to single issue litmus tests, especially on culture war issues. While prior generations of liberal activists had often rallied under the banner of gender equality or civil rights, the netroots demanded that those causes be subsumed within a larger progressive agenda. And they showed a particular affinity for candidates willing to challenge corporate power—even candidates like Virginia's James Webb and Montana's Jon Tester, who sometimes ran afoul of liberal cultural orthodoxy.

Yah! (That's a troll-shout of complete agreement, by the way.) Beinart calls people who believe in racial and gender equality "cultural liberals" and, boy, do they have to take their medicine:

For cultural liberals, it was ugly. They had better get used to it: Big parties are ugly. But if you want to rebuild the American welfare state, there is no alternative.

The Education of Echidne! I haz now been educated in what it means to be a Democrat and what a big tent means: It's got a white-boyz-only sign at the door. As blondie points out in the comments, that's a surefire way for Democrats to become a minority party again. But whatever.

Beinart does sound like a single-issue Democrat. You have to understand that all these policies are ultimately about power: who has it, how it is acquired and how it is protected, and who has power over others. Beinart seems to think that it's sufficient if poor men get more economic power. That they get to keep and grow their power over women, for example, is perfectly AOK with him. Because the latter power is somehow not real, does not affect women's daily lives or their ability to make a living. It's just cultural liberalism, like wearing only black frocks and going to art exhibitions. It's not about the daily life of women everywhere, including poor women, but more like a frill around the neck of your Thanksgiving turkey.