(warning: inside blogosphere baseball)
Amanda Marcotte is frustrated with a lot of folks on our side:
So, I posted earlier today about what jackass crazy fuckwits run the Republican party and that’s why we’re in this current crisis, I suppose the inevitable thing happened in comments: I got scolded about my priorities. Apparently, I’m supposed to be focusing like a laser on how Obama is actually a double agent for the GOP…
Yes, I’m saying it right here: whether Obama is a secret Republican or whether he’s a well-meaning Democrat who is simply being blackmailed is irrelevant. The problem, either way, is Republicans.
If only. I think there’s a much, much bigger problem here — us.
Exhibit A: the debate on liberal/lefty blogs over “neoliberals” like Matt Yglesias, nicely summarized here and here. To grossly oversimplify, it’s about whether policy folks need to make long-term grassroots base building an integral part of their thinking about policy. Matt Y had complained:
Kevin Drum offers this effort:
I don’t know the answer either. But as I said a few months ago, “If the left ever wants to regain the vigor that powered earlier eras of liberal reform, it needs to rebuild the infrastructure of economic populism that we’ve ignored for too long. Figuring out how to do that is the central task of the new decade.” It still is.
[Matt says:] So I really, strongly, profoundly agree with this. The moment someone comes up with a workable idea on this front, please sign me up. But if there’s no idea to debate, then there’s no idea to debate. Debating the desirability of devising some hypothetical future good idea seems kind of pointless to me.
Erik Loomis sums up the response:
being right about policy is often irrelevant unless you have a mass movement of people behind you ready to engage in collective action to see those policies enacted. And I don’t think left neo-liberals often understand that. This is why I get so outraged when, for example, left neo-liberals support education “reform” that weakens teacher unions. We probably all agree that there are bad teachers out there and it would be great to get rid of them. But by weakening the one educational institution that can best mobilize people to protect our schools from conservative attacks, these reforms often further right-wing politics even if they theoretically achieve a left neo-liberal policy point.
To which I say, Oh. My. God.
A few months after Wisconsin, we’re having a debate over this? The whole point of what Republicans are trying to do is to use policy to wipe out our power. How can anyone on our side who’s been paying attention at all – let along blogging endlessly – not get this?
So no, the problem isn’t the Republicans. The Republicans are playing a tough but smart bet: double down on the crazy in order to capture a lot of the anger that’s out there and see how far they can go before it blows up. As the Debt Ceiling drama is demonstrating, it may be a lot sooner than they were thinking. But considering the alternatives, it was a pretty smart gamble.
The problem is that our side isn’t playing equally smart. That’s why Obama can basically ignore what we want.
So if we want to stop losing, it’s time to stop whining about the Republicans or Obama and get in the game. One small step in that direction: stop having debates about whether (political) gravity exists.