Saturday, July 23, 2005

Barack's advice for progressive Democrats -- applied in Illinois?

An AP story in the Belleville News-Democrat here has this choice section on Barack Obama's advice for progressive Democrats:

Obama also angered some liberals for supporting Condoleezza Rice's nomination for secretary of state and refusing to join a group of Democrats who protested the certification of the Electoral College votes from Ohio, alleging numerous irregularities.

"There's a lot of freight placed on symbolic gestures," Obama says. "I don't think that plays well with the American people. ... Despite the fact that I come from what would be considered the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, I don't always agree with the strategy and tactics of some of my friends on the left."

Even so, the phone keeps ringing. He has helped raised money for U.S. senators in Florida, Michigan and New Jersey this year, collecting chits along the way.

Obama says his party needs to do a better job of getting its message out to voters.

"I do agree that the Democrats have been intellectually lazy in failing to take the core ideals of the Democratic Party and adapting them to circumstances," he says.

He says the Democrats should "take it big instead of making it small" as they speak about globalization, the need for a tough foreign policy and the importance of faith and family.

"It's not just a matter of sticking in a quote from the Bible into a stock speech," he says.


I think that's a message we should continue to take to heart. First, symbolism is less important than substance. Maybe I'm wrong to advice Senate Dems to vote no on John Roberts. He is clearly intellectually qualified and has a judicial manner. But this is a substantive switch from a moderate conservate like O'Connor to almost certainly a reliably hard-right conservative like Rehnquist (and so far, conventional wisdom suggests that Roberts would be more like a Rehnquist than a Scalia, as the latter goes out of his way to slash away at previous decisions and impose his own 18th Century ideology on the Supreme Court, while the former seems to accept the consensus view of well-settled law).

But, more to the point, we need to improve our platform, and the way to do that is to make big plans. I don't particularly care about faith or family in politics, as I think that tends to be more a way to make some voters comfortable with a candidate and culturally self-identify with the candidate rather than a source of significant policy, but figuring out how to raise everyone's living standards is not easy. It's pretty easy to figure out how to make the rich richer and everyone else poorer -- cut taxes on wealth and high incomes and implement corporate-backed trade agreements that tend to protect the most powerful industries while putting downward pressure on wages. That's basically the GOP platform.

I actually think we need more bloggers -- yes, you! -- that write and think about what the Democratic policy ought to be, and especially how to help join and engage with the Democratic Party where the Party is the governing coalition, like in Illinois and in lots of counties and cities all over the nation.

So if you're a reader and you are at all inspired by Barack Obama's words above, post a comment, set up a blogger account, and start writing. I'll link to you. And let's intellectually work!


Anonymous said...

Voting to confirm Condi (essentially agreeing with Bush's version of foreign policy) and voting to forbid class-action suits at the state level seem quite substance-laden to me (and, hopefully, are substance that most Democrats disagree with).

Lazerlou said...

Me too Dan. The class action fairness act was shameful. Condi I don't care about - she is qualified to do her job. But giving even more lagal advantage to huge corporations was inexcusable. Undermining the courts for the sake of monied majority coprorate intersts is pathetic. Consumers will bear the costs of millions and millions of dollars of fraud and exploitation each year becasue of it. No real progressive votes to undermine traditional notions of diversity jurisdiction. Nationwide class actions in state court are dead. So much for states rights, so much for being able to even the playing field through aggregation of claims.

Roy said...

I would like to see such a platform, and hopefully it is forthcoming. I think the democrats have invested too much political capital in making people fear "1 party rule". Or what what republicans would call "obstructionism". The case in point being figuring out how to raise everyone's living standards is not easy. [Figuring] out how to make the rich richer and everyone else poorer [is easy]. Trying to sell noble ideas, but avoiding specifics because they are not easy to speak about is not a winning strategy.

respectful said...

Barack didn't seem all that progressive when he was fundraising for the senior senator from West Virginia. BTW, Robert "Sheets" Byrd has already endorsed Roberts for the Supreme Court.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

I disagree with Senator Obama's vote on the class action lawsuits as well. And Y. is right that the fear of one-party rule is a boring message (especially from Illinois Dems, because we've got one-party rule in Springfield, and I for one like not worrying about what Pate or Edgar/Ryan will do). I didn't understand the rest of Y's point. Hey, Senator Byrd was a champion of the Senate standing up to the Imperial Presidency during the run-up to the war. That was progressive action. And as for Byrd's mistakes in the 50s (!), give the old man a break.

Lazerlou said...

You simply can't blame any politician for fundraising or helping his political allies fundraise or hold it against his intergrity or authenticity as a progressive. Whatever one compromises about themselves when one becomes a politician transcends substantive political ideology. Fundraising is a necessary condition for being a politician. Even Jerry Brown, who use to only take $100 max contributions, now allows bigger donations.