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Monday, January 14, 2008

The Audacity of Hype

Can somebody explain to me what is supposed to be so fresh and new about the politics of hope?

How is the politics of hope really that different from what we have been suffering from for the last seven years?

Invade Iraq and hope for the best? Hope the economy will balance itself out? Hope Movement Conservative appointees to the Court won't dismantle Roe and our other Civil Liberties? Hope our infrastructure will hold up without tax money to maintain it? Hope deregulated companies will act in the public interest even when the opposite is more profitable? Hope those levees won't break?

There were plenty who knew Iraq looked like shaping up to be a disaster -- quite apart from being illegal and immoral. There were plenty who knew the housing bubble would burst, that tax cuts for the rich during wartime was madness, and so on. There were plenty who knew the danger New Orleans was in.

Reagan talked about hope. Reagan talked about "Morning in America" as he set out to destroy the achievements of the New Deal and the Summer of Love. That's when our long national nightmare of corporatism and theocratic pandering began.

Hope is frankly unwarranted in my opinion given our recent history, our debased present, and our palpable future. Indeed, to focus on hope right about now may be delusive and outright dangerous.

The alternative I propose is not Hopelessness.

Right about now Hope Without Fight is Hype.

We need to fight our way to a place of hope that makes sense. I'm hopeful enough to think we can fight our way to hope. But I'm not ready to make nice.

Make sense first. Fight second. Hope third.

I've said it before, I'll say it again. I'll cheerfully vote for Obama (or for Clinton), I'll fight to get Obama in the White House. I think any of the three front runners would be a better President than any of the Republican alternatives, would possibly be even a better President than any in my recent memory.

But Obama needs to make more sense (for example, neither his health nor his energy policies are as good as Edwards's or Clinton's already imperfect plans) and he needs to signal more awareness of the need to fight and more willingness to do so. I'll even settle for a few dog-whistle signals of commitments to his progressive base here and there rather than this constant refrain from dreamy-eyed supporters that I can "trust him" to have real progressive commitments despite all the feel-good vacuities and corporate/centrist policy papers.

As for Edwards, I'm still a committed Edwards guy. Edwards's delegate counts are fine, thank you all very much. Edwards is polling plenty well in upcoming primary contests. Obama and Clinton are both objectively to the right of Edwards on domestic policy, and I'm on the democratic left. Edwards is the best candidate for progressives and I think it's lunacy (wishful thinking, more like) to pretend he's out of the race this early on, and given his impact in driving all the candidates toward progressive stances more in line with what the country needs and already believes it would be lunacy to push him out of the race even if his prospects for a win begin to dim (as they have not yet objectively done).

2 comments:

MontanaMaven said...

Excellent post. "Hope without Fight is Hype" is a keeper. I can't figure out how I could possibly support this guy. When the country desperately needs an FDR, we don't need somebody to the right of Clinton.

Dale Carrico said...

Thanks. I agree that what is wanted right about now is an FDR... and I see little indication that Obama agrees with us, while Edwards clearly does. Nevertheless, if Obama becomes the Democratic Party nominee one will need only stand him next to the scoundrel the Republicans seek to saddle us with to find the fire to support our nominee. I think Obama is a better candidate with better positions on many issues than John Kerry did, who had my staunch support last time around. I just think Edwards is incomparably better on both, the right person for this historical moment, as well as stronger for the General. I have misgiving about all three candidates (Edwards least, but they're there) and appreciation for all three in some respects (Edwards most). That's my take, at any rate. No doubt, as usual, it's going to be a long slog.