Saturday, August 22, 2009

Can We Ever Have a Left Wing Government?

I know the American system is very different from the British one, especially when it comes to corporate funding of political parties, but I nevertheless see an awful lot in common with what Glenn Greenwald describes here regarding progressive politicians in the US, and what we witnessed in this country after the election of Tony Blair:

In essence, this is the mindset of Rahm Emanuel, and its precepts are as toxic as they are familiar: The only calculation that matters is maximizing political power. The only "change" that's meaningful is converting more Republican seats into Democratic ones. A legislative "win" is determined by whether Democrats can claim victory, not by whether anything constructive was achieved. The smart approach is to serve and thus curry favor with the most powerful corporate factions, not change the rules to make them less powerful. The primary tactic of Democrats should be to be more indispensable to corporate interests so as to deny the GOP that money and instead direct it to Democrats. The overriding strategy is to scorn progressives while keeping them in their place and then expand the party by making it more conservative and more reliant on Blue Dogs. Democrats should replicate Republican policies on Terrorism and national security -- not abandon them -- in order to remove that issue as a political weapon.
In Britain, the exact same game was played out under Blair, simply substituting the readers of the Daily Mail for the American corporate interests.

Labour was elected with a majority of 170 seats, giving Blair the room to do virtually anything he wanted, which is almost identical to the position the Democrats find themselves in, where they control both houses and Obama remains a popular and charismatic leader.

Blair, terrified of being perceived as "too left wing" pandered continually to the readers of the Mail, lest he alienate "Middle England". Rahm Emanuel appears to be falling into the exact same trap in the US by always respecting the views of the Blue Dog Democrats.

This is especially disappointing given Obama's campaign message of change. One of the things we surely wanted to change was this notion that right wing governments can behave as outrageously right wing as they wish, but that left of centre governments must always tilt towards the right so as not to alienate others.

It really does appear as if, in both of our country's, the electorate can never have a proper left wing government, even if that is what they voted for in overwhelming numbers.

Blair eventually came to regret the fact that he didn't take advantage of the huge parliamentary majority he enjoyed. I suspect Obama might too.

I, for one, am starting to feel disappointed that Emanuel - and I presume Obama too - are more concerned with ensuring victory in the 2010 midterms than in doing anything useful with their victory.

What's the point of the Democrats winning power if they spend all their time in power trying not to alienate right wing loons, who are always going to loathe them no matter what they do?

But on a political level, the left has been betrayed over and over again on the things that matter to us the most. The village is pleased, I'm sure. But the Democratic party only needs to look back eight short years to see just how destructive it is to constantly tell their left flank to go fuck themselves. . . .
I think Emanuel is playing with fire.

Obama was elected on a huge promise of change. And nowhere will evidence of that change be expected more than in America's health system. And yet it appears that it is here that Emanuel and Obama intend to sell out their supporters.
It's worth remembering that a third party run from the left is what created the conditions for eight long years of Republican governance that pretty much wrecked this country.

After 2000, what is it going to take for the Democrats to realize that constantly using their base as a doormat is not a good idea?
That's madness. Obama beat Hillary because he was more left wing than she was. Hillary reminded everyone of Bill and triangulation. When will the Democrats believe that people actually want progressive policies, not these watered down alternatives?

Daily Kos Poll:

Across the board, the drops among Obama and the Democratic Party have come not from the loyal opposition, nor have they come from dismayed Independents.

They have come from Democrats.

That ought to speak for itself.


Interesting point when she says it's not just Democrats who want to see Obama fighting for this.

Click title for Greenwald's full post.


daveawayfromhome said...

If Obama's concern is winning more seats in 2010, I think he's going about it the wrong way. The Democratic majority looked pretty solid, but it was fed by a lot of people who were angry and disgusted with the Republicans. Since then, though, we've seen the
Democrats continue many of the Republicans policies while whimping out on many of the things they were elected to do.
Between the people on the fence who will go back to the Republicans, and the Democrats who simply wont bother voting out of disgust or disappointment, I suspect that the Democrats will lose seats this next round.

And deserve to.

Kel said...

That's exactly the point I was trying to make, Dave. Obama excited me because he was much more to the left than Hillary. He made out that he would change the way things were done. Christ, he even hinted that the Bush administration might be prosecuted.

He really HAS to deliver a public option on healthcare to have any credibility at all.

If they can't deliver this when they have a filibuster proof majority, then when can they deliver it?

daveawayfromhome said...

I suspect we're headed back to another bout of Republican control for the U.S.
Apparently, things have to get even worse here before we finally wake up and throw out the "leadership" on both sides.

Kel said...

I - with all due respect - disagree. I think the Republicans are too fucked up to be re-elected until Obama has served two terms.

His re-election is - at this point - almost guaranteed.

That's why he has to govern with the same conviction with which he campaigned.

He needs to remember the strength of his own convictions.

He has a mandate for "change". Now, he simply has to implement that mandate.

nunya said...

Unfortunately Democratic representatives behave like long term battered wives at times. That's what they're compared to, anyway. I think they are waiting to see who fills up the campaign coffers. If it is the for-profit health sector and the reps buckle under and do what their new masters want, the young, tech savvy voters that brought Obama in will simply quit downloading political information to their iPods and go back to listening to music.

Kel said...

I agree, Nunya. The Dems seem to believe that re-election is more important than fulfilling the promises which got them elected in the first place.

Obama and his message of change really fired up the younger generation, now he has to deliver or risk losing them forever.

daveawayfromhome said...

Obama may keep his two terms of presidency, especially since the Republicans have no one stronger than Sarah Palin to put forth. But Democrats will lose ground in the Legislature because their members appear (are?) so spineless and the Democratic voters will not feel compelled back to the polls next time. When one is choosing between "music" and politics, why bother with politics if the effort leads to nothing?

Kel said...

The problem with the Dems is never the leadership, it's always the spineless members.

Somehow, Bush managed to keep the Republicans together but, despite the fact that it was Obama's policies which got many of these buggers elected, they try to stymie him at every turn.

They make me sick.