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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Differences Make A Difference

The worst Democrats in the context of the Democratic Party cohort are better than best Republicans in the context of the Republican Party cohort, if what you want is progressive democratization. This matters even when it isn't all that matters.

Ask yourself if Republicans would be pushing cap and trade as Democrats are? Would they have the historical sensitivity to refrain from meddling jingoistic empty tough-talk in the midst of the desperately fragile Iranian people-powered resistance to tyranny as Democrats are struggling to do? Would they be pushing Israel on settlements as Democrats are insistently continuing to do? Would they have nominated Solis or Sotomayor as Democrats did? Would they have passed a massive stimulus with unemployment benefits in the midst of our present financial catastrophe as Democrats did? Would they be pushing to protect women's health-care providers from a rising tide of home-grown Christianist terrorists? Would they be pressing to re-regulate financial institutions at all as Democrats are? Would they be pressing for the health care reforms Democrats are? Would they ever try to pass EFCA? And, yes, do you really think Republicans will end DADT, DOMA, and implement ENDA and hate-crimes legislation before Democrats will do so?

This doesn't mean one doesn't feel disappointed and even outraged by particular Democrats and by their compromises and by their timidities and by their inability to stand on principles in public and by their corporate-militarist associations. This doesn't mean I am not pushing for more actually-helpful environmental politics than cap and trade, more actually-relevant financial regulations, more actually-progressive nominations, more actually-equitable radical healthcare reform, more actually-timely lgbtq policies myself. This doesn't mean progressives don't have to push Democrats from the left. This doesn't mean we shouldn't work to unseat incumbents who are less progressive than their districts are. This doesn't mean we shouldn't fight to implement instant-runoff voting so that progressive third-party votes don't amount to votes for Republicans. This doesn't mean Republicans can't eventually transform their party into a cohort some of whose best members are better than the worst Democrats as has historically often been the case as it is not at present in my view (although I doubt Republicans could ever improve so much that I would prefer them as a cohort to Democrats, since I'm temperamentally a progressive Democrat rather than a conservative, even if I do think some conservative sensibilities are indispensable to the health of a Republic).

But all this does mean that facile equivalency theses about the parties and their policies do nothing to facilitate progressive and democratizing ends, but rather render us insensitive to differences that make a difference in ways that actually facilitate conservative and reactionary ends, despite the self-congratulatory progressive-purist fanfare that tends to accompany these cynical declarations of equivalency or blanket betrayal and so on.

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