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Friday, March 25, 2016

The False Two Party Equivalency Thesis Is Not Just Wrong But Reactionary


Lorraine said...

I've never posited a two-party equivalancy. I understand that there are people who do, but I don't think they're anywhere near as numerous as you seem to think; just very loud and very persistent when it comes to the broken record style of rhetoric.

I will confess that what I've always hoped would happen during my lifetime is what you might call a mirror image of the Reagan revolution...basically a convergence of certain trends that mirror one's associated with the decades following 1980:

- an assertively liberal Democratic presidential nominee who wins by a landslide

- an assertively liberal Democratic platform

- a 3+ decade era in which "the C word" is almost used as a pejorative.

- likewise, Democratic primaries become a pissing contest to see who can be the most liberal, of course with zero embarrassment surrounding the word "liberal", etc.

I do acknowledge that this year, the Democratic candidates are really kissing up to #BlackLivesMatter and really competing over supporters of #FightFor15, anti-fracking, etc. Perhaps the pendulum swing has already come but I don't see it because I was so hoping for a self-identified capital-L Liberal with Reagan-style bluster. Sanders is aggressive at staking out positions, but on the presidential campaign trail he's been just a broken record of talking points. While I support him, I have been disappointed. I'm opposed in principle to the IQ concept, but I'd have to hazard a guess Clinton is at least 10 points higher on the IQ scale than Sanders. I respect your reasons for supporting Clinton over Sanders (I'll event admit that I'm 'secretly' kind of glad that Clinton has basically clinched the nomination at this point), but the sheer relentlessness of your attacks of those who would prefer Sanders is also, I fear, an example of Democrats eating their own. I'd love to see an approach that's more honey and less vinegar, but as they say, it's your blog and your call. At this point I certainly don't regret having voted for Sanders in the Michigan primary. A big (even though minority) turnout for Sanders I think serves as a message (more to the main$tream media than to the coming Clinton administration) that red hot liberals aren't the safely-taken-for-granted 5% slice of public opinion that (maybe) we were when the token liberals of the primary season included such box office flops as Kucinich, Moseley-Braun, Brown, Jackson, Cranston, etc.

Dale Carrico said...

I appreciate your comments very much, and your criticisms about my antagonistic tone are well taken. The simple fact is that certain topics piss me off -- politics and (tech)-religion, the notorious two forbidden dinner table subjects -- and I vent about them here on the blog, the better to ensure I never go off idiotically at home (where my partner deserves nothing but my support and enjoys thoughtful conversation) and at school (where my students all deserve to feel visible, respected, and safe to express and experiment with their best selves whatever I might think of the views they hold at this moment in their intellectual journeys). The blog keeps me personally sane and interpersonally supportive -- I always assume folks read it for the jokes and the occasionally well-elaborated arguments, since I also use writing here to develop and clarify my thinking in an ongoing way.

As for Sanders, I don't think he is ready for prime time and I think his campaign is damaging -- the broadsides against the Obama presidency and appeals to white working class voters seem to me to be the party eating its own if anything is: the most progressive, consequential, successful, inspiring Democratic President of our lifetimes and the diverse base of the Democratic Party. I think the whole party is moving left and that this is a good and necessary thing -- I think Clinton's campaign and Presidency has and does and will also reflect this shift. Far from taking radical democrats for granted, I think we are invigorating the party and shaping its platform. During the Bill Clinton years and first George W. Bush term your diagnosis of a centrist hippy-punching self-defeating Democratic Party was on point. To deny the eclipse of the DLC and rise of the Black and Progressive Caucuses as shaping forces of the emerging Democratic Party, to pretend this is the time for a protest vote against the Party establishment rather than a time to bolster the Party as a collective instrument for progressive change and destroy the reactionary obstructionist death-dealing Republican party in a time of its maximum vulnerability seems to me palpably crazy. I don't mean you, I am saying that there is a lot of this going around. My students are Sanders voters and I love my students and they are fed up with being screwed as truly they have been. Sanders will do them no good -- and he is actively mis-educating them about the relationship of partisan reform to radical movement politics, about the necessity of compromise and pragmatism in shared problem-solving, about the righteousness of self-indulgent purity cabaret over the ugly heartbreaking work of stakeholder reconciliation. He is making vapid appeals where I hoped he would provide educational and inspiring policy rich alternatives, of the kind of the Progressive Caucus already does. He is demonizing Hillary Clinton and I did not expect that from him and find it truly upsetting. He shows terrible judgment in advisors and is not growing as a candidate on the trail. He wouldn't bring my students one inch closer to the fairness and promise they deserve. Hillary Clinton has detailed policy prescriptions, a command of issues, a capacious and critical temperament, and the individual and organizational connections (the other face of "Establishment") to implement reforms that will bring debt relief and police reform and sustainable infrastructure investment and higher wages and lower medical costs to my students, whether they support her or trust her or like her or not. That's what matters to me. I probably would have supported Elizabeth Warren over Hillary -- it would have depended on her published policies and her performance in some town halls -- but Bernie Sanders is a bit of bad joke in my opinion, and does a grave disservice to the social/ist democratic politics he presumably represents and to which I have devoted most of my life.