I went on to comment:
I have no doubt that Republicans will roar incoherently about socialism while at once whomping up anti-governmental populism fed by the very abuses and distress Obama seeks to address here, meanwhile the left, rather than supporting the President, will accuse him of being a Bush-lite stealth corporatist even before Congress fails to implement this minimally reasonable intervention, pretending that the failure of a carefully crafted compromise somehow provides evidence that whatever incomparably more radical intervention they happen to advocate in the abstract (as Obama himself surely would prefer more radical interventions in the abstract as well, having both a brain and a heart as he does) would somehow have a better chance to get implemented than the moderate intervention that can't get through.
In the Moot, an annoyed "Mathmos" sputtered in reply:
Ah, those dang shrill pouty leftists and their Naderite deadenderism. What I wouldn't give for them to frame and see and think about things the way I do. If only they were capable of putting actual Democratic political results in the context of a personal, involved understanding of Obama's true intentions, as I do. If only they feared the indecorous stints of Republican dominance enough to embrace Democratic Third Way politics as the sole Realistic/ Pragmatic/ Sensible/ Serious/ Possible alternative, as I do. If only they understood that a political wing is defined not by steadfast adherence to political aims, and the pressuring necessary to achieve them, but by the very subordination of those aims to the organizational interests of the Party brandishing the right cultural markers, as I do, etc.
Now, for one thing, since I do regard myself as a leftist -- being, after all, an anti-racist anti-corporatist anti-militarist gender-queer feminist green social democrat who advocates universal single payer healthcare, a universal non means-tested basic income guarantee, free life-long public education, and democratic world federalist governance -- it does feel odd to me to find myself distinguished from leftists in such formulations. Also, I will cheerfully concede that I do indeed wish that leftists who agree that some of these are desirable outcomes as well as sharing with me a sense of "the left wing of the possible" given the circumstances that actually beset us would "frame and see and think about things the way I do." Surely that follows rather naturally from the fact that I actually mean what I say and say it because I hope it is useful in the way of getting at those outcomes given where we actually are? Why would this be treated as some stealthy attitude on my part demanding sarcastic exposure, or even the least bit surprising in fact?
I agree with the pseudonymously-monikered "Mathmos" (how brave the Internet makes people!) that "[s]teadfast adherence to political aims and the pressuring necessary to achieve them" is indeed what defines the proper activist left. I just know that "pressure" doesn't mean stamping your foot and pouting at reality. "Pressure," to be efficacious, has to be attentive to actual context. Otherwise, one's "steadfastness" is just theatre, and claims to "radicalism" too readily become indulgences in narcissism.
"Mathmos" falsely claims that I am advocating Third Way politics which I happen to disdain as a matter of fact (I am assuming "Third Way" is being used in the sense actually deployed by the Clintons and DLC politicos as well as by Blair's Labour), presumably because they think anybody who struggles to connect ideals to outcomes in a pragmatic way must be a Clintonian triangular. This is false and even cartoonish, but by all means "Mathmos" should stick to it if it makes them feel better. There's quite a lot to feel miserable and distressed about in the present state of US and global politics, so who am I to steal from the "Mathmos" such wee self-deceptions as get them through the night, I suppose?
As for "Mathmos" declaring that I advocate "subordination of [left political] aims to the organizational interests of the Party brandishing the right cultural markers" I am eager to see some evidence in any of my writing for this. I advocate challenges to Democratic incumbents whose voting records are to the right of their constituencies, I advocate running candidates in "unwinnable" districts in the interest of longer-term progressive education via campaigning, and I advocate the institution of instant runoff voting district by district (we recently won it here in Oakland where I live, for example) to render third-party candidacies non-spoilers as they certainly do function in the actual world as it is actually instituted here and now. None of those stances squares with an attribution to me of preference for "cultural markers" over political substance. Given that "Mathmos" seems to be defending disdain for pragmatic possibility in favor of strident manifesto-declarations, I am inclined to direct precisely that charge their way instead. I am intrigued to know what "cultural markers" I am presumably preferring to actually democratizing efforts at education, agitation, and organization.
"Mathmos" also falsely claims that I pretend to read Obama's mind when I simply deny he's a seeeecret eeeevil Bush-lite corporatist just because he can't unilaterally impose his progressive will in an actually diverse, actually undercritical polity whose governance is organized by separation of powers at every layer. This doesn't mean he gets a free pass for everything he's done (for example, I think the stimulus should and could have been larger and that a too-optimistic assessment of the economy yielded a mistakenly scrawny stimulus that didn't translate into enough jobs, and I also think he has been both clumsy and pointlessly slow in addressing DADT and DOMA out of a misreading of both the mainstream cultural landscape in the US and that of his own base on lgbtq issues), but none of this causes me to mistake Obama for anything but the most progressive President since FDR which I still think he clearly is in both his words and actions. And I do indeed believe painting Obama otherwise is both straightforwardly wrong on the facts but also reveals an unrealistic understanding of political reality that does nobody any good, whether they agree with me or not about what is desirable in the abstract in the way of democratizing aspirations.
The reality of literally unprecedented monolithic Republican obstructionism in a Senate with a filibuster is that every Senator among the 60 who caucus with the Democrats (a non-negligible minority of whom are very conservative in some of their views) has veto power over any legislative efforts, and many are willing to use it opportunistically or in the service of actually conservative ends. Media sensationalism and complacent adherence to conventional wisdom as set by incumbent interests also skews access to reliable information about policy outcomes and the stances of actual officeholders in ways that amount to voter disenfranchisement via mis-information and fraud in what remains a notionally representative democracy.
That is reality. You can pretend digging your heels in and demanding more radical outcomes is somehow more achievable than the moderate ones that can't get through the DC slaughter house, but that doesn't really make sense to me. You can decry my own honest efforts to grasp what the left wing of the possible actually looks like or to assess Obama in light of what I take to be possible as my own stealth corporatism or cynicism or whatever, but that doesn't really make sense to me either.
When I discuss Republicans (or for that matter, futurologists) in a snide way it is usually because I think they are lying in a facile way or being egregiously stupid and my tone reflects that. I don't really think "Mathmos" thinks I am being either deceptive or dumb, however much they disagree with me. If all the "Mathmos" ultimately means to communicate is that we disagree with one another about what is possible for the left or for a left President under the present circumstances, and that I think pointlessly strident unrealistic demands are demoralizing and divisive rather than invigorating for actually practically democratizing left politics, I think all that is fairly obvious.