Tuesday, March 11, 2014

President Obama is Leading Dems into the Wilderness

My big idea about President Obama is that he threw away a big opportunity to make the Democrats into the middle-term majority party for years to come.

He could have taken Judis and Teixeira's Emerging Democratic Majority of minorities, women, young people and the educated into long-term dominance.  But that would have required a stimulus that combined Keynesianism with a dab of supply-side, an Obamacare that recognized that the uninsured were uninsured by choice, and a soft pedal on the green energy organ.

Instead President Obama has force marched the Democratic Party to the left.  Now here's Josh Kraushaar in National Journal arguing that it's "Time for Truth in Labeling: Obama Is Not Centrist."  Obama's leftward lurch is opening up a divide between liberals and moderates in the party.

Liberals. writes Krauschaar, don't care about the deficit; liberals are the only people in the country that want high prices for energy, etc.  In other words,
on all five major issues that divide the Democratic Party's liberals and moderates—the budget deficit, income inequality, the environment, social issues, and America's role in the world—Obama is on the leftward side.
And he seems to be trying to go leftward at warp speed as though there will never be another chance to implement leftist policies in our lifetime.

To me this only makes strategic sense -- from the liberal, Democratic Party point of view -- if the Dems will never have to answer to the voters for their leftward lurch.  Otherwise it risks a brutal reverse at the polls, what demoralized liberals in the Seventies called a "backlash."

You see, I think that the reason you don't sicc the IRS on the opposition is that it's bad for your side.  You really don't want to rile up the opposition unless the opposition is never again going to get the chance to vote your side out of office.

I think that the reason you don't put ideological extremists on the National Labor Relations Board to push the union side is that you convince the opposition that the NLRB has to go.

I think the reason that you don't nominate Mumia's defense lawyer to oversee the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is that it convinces the opposition that a major rewrite of civil rights law is needed.

And so on.  The point is that government is force, and if you are the government you want to distract attention away from this truth, because the truth about government reminds people that the only way to oppose force is with force.

It has become a banality to say that President Obama is nothing more than a jumped-up community organizer applying Alinsky's Rules for Radicals on a national stage. (Curiously he does not apply Rules on the international stage against the Putins of the world.)  But Obama certainly seems to think that the way to succeed as president is to push his partisan agenda to the utmost and get in the face of the opposition.

Against the president's way of governing is the consensus idea, that to make lasting change you need to form a bipartisan consensus, you need to co-opt the opposition.

My feeling is that the consensus approach is not the strategy of the softie, but hard-headed Macchiavelli.  If you are the ruler you want to keep the opposition divided and uncertain.  You want it to vacillate between cooperating with you and opposing you.

The ruler really does not benefit when he drives everyone except his strong supporters into the opposition.  Not in the long term, and probably not in the short term.

I wonder what the Democrats are afraid of.  Here they are, dominating the academy, education, the media, entertainment, and supported by their cadres of activists.  What's the need for the strong-arming? What's the hurry?

Maybe they know something that I don't know.  Or maybe they are just politicians that live by division and attack, and don't know any other way to live.

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