Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Channeling. Mahablog does it again. BTW, Vegetable is also known as David Brooks. Looks like he eventually found his way to the right parking lot. At any rate, Mahablog sets him straight on his column today:

Because, dear Vegetable, it’s not about ideology.

For the past several years, “bipartisan” has meant “agreeing with Republicans,” with Republican defined as “an ideologically blinkered whackjob who takes marching orders from Richard Mellon Scaife and who would sell out the Constitution in an eyeblink for the sake of more power and some tax cuts.” And the effect on America — nay, the world — of this “bipartisanship” has been devastating.

Now bobbleheads like the Vegetable are trying to redefine “bipartisan” as a requirement that right-wing ideology must be honored and included in all policy decisions, even though a majority of the American people are rejecting it wholesale. And we must do this because, you know, it’s nice. It’s like when you were seven and your mother made you share your toys with Cousin Maggie even after she deliberately popped the heads off all your Ken dolls.

Brooks’s idea is that, out of some sense of etiquette, politics and policies coming out of Washington must honor some ideological mean. Obama’s idea is that government ought to be responding to what a majority of Americans want it to do.

To me, that’s always been the foundation of progressivism — government that genuinely responds to the will of We, the People. It’s not about loyalty to a menu of policies like cutting or raising taxes or growing or shrinking government. If We, the People, genuinely want to starve government of tax revenues so it can be drowned in a bathtub, fine. If the majority really want our domestic needs ignored for the sake of becoming an unstoppable imperialist might, then so be it.


But just as his appeal is not about ideology, it’s also not about policy. It’s about democracy that’s not in name only. As Digby wrote the other day,

When people say they want change it’s not because they are tired of “partisan bickering” (which basically consists of derisive Republican laughter.) They’re sick of a government that does exactly the opposite of what they want it to do.

The experience of the past several years is that Republicans expect to be congratulated for making government do the exact opposite of what you want it to do. Democrats may express regret for it, but government still does the exact opposite of what you want it to do... why do we have to put up with the wingnuts and their failed policies at all?


I suspect the Obama surge isn’t about Obama. I think it’s about long-growing, pent-up frustration with unresponsive government. Obama is becoming the rallying point for people who want real change, dammit, not promises and apologies.

Though I think the Obama surge has something to do with Obama, I think she's onto something there. People voted for change in November 2006. The message was not received very clearly in Washington, DC.

Just think of it as the people turning up the amplifier.


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