Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Disloyal Democratic Party

By Frank Moraes 

I am very glad that Eliot Spitzer has decided to re-enter politics by running for New York City comptroller. And right on cue, Matt Yglesias has said what had to be said, "Eliot Spitzer Never Should Have Resigned in the First Place." Mostly, his article was an excuse to point out that Spitzer most likely wants this "lowly" job because it would give him control of the public employee pension funds. And that means he would have some power to go after Wall Street. Surprisingly, Yglesias does not go to the next step, which is that Wall Street is going to put big money behind Spitzer's primary opponent Scott Stringer. And it may not be that hard for Stringer to get the advantage given he isn't a bad guy himself. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how the election goes.

What I'm more interested in is the Spitzer resignation itself. As with Anthony Weiner, I think his resignation had more to do with the complete lack of support by his own party than anything else. In both of these men's cases, the scandal was relatively small. But Democrats are not a group prone to circling the wagons. They are more in the habit of waving a white flag and yelling, "We've got him here! He's all tied up! We'll bring him right out!"

This has long been a problem for me with the Democratic Party. As much as I hate just about everything the Republicans stand for, at least they are loyal when it comes to all of this non-ideological bullshit. Of course, they are like the medieval Catholic Church when it comes to ideology. The Democrats are just the opposite. A Democratic candidates can be anti-individual welfare and pro-corporate welfare and we will herald him as the greatest Democratic President since FDR. But let a sex scandal show up and suddenly the Democratic Party is as pure as Mother Teresa. In fact, I wonder if the Democratic Party would have stayed as loyal to Bill Clinton had it not been for the constant ridiculous trumpeting of fake scandals all through his presidency. (Regardless, it was only his will to fight that saved him.)

It is interesting, this comparison of the two parties. They kind of show the main ways that parties can go wrong. The Republicans have become too pure in terms of ideology and the Democrats have become too impure. Both of these failings have advantages. But what it means as a practical matter is that the very best politicians in both parties are drummed out: Republicans because they are too reasonable and Democrats because no one is ever that perfect. At least, no one who has anything going on intellectually!

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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  • Michael-
    I've been deeply disappointed with your posts of late. You just wrote a scathing post on those of us Democrats who support the President ("Obama-can-do-no-wrong types") and don't happen to agree with you on the NSA/Snowden issue. And now, just a few posts later, you write this post where you do a complete 180 degrees and criticize Democrats for being disloyal when a Dem like Spitzer gets in hot water over prostitutes. We're blindly loyal or disloyal - Which one is it? On a personal note, as much as I appreciate your support for Dems, as a Canadian, you shouldn't presume to speak for American Democrats. We celebrate our diversity and will always have civil disagreements. We certainly don't trash each other using the bitter language of Limbaugh and Beck, which is what you've done. Your attacks have been very personal. Please accept that we all come from different backgrounds and are in different age groups and our beliefs are just as valid as yours. That doesn't make us gullible sheep for having a belief that conflicts with yours. Lets work together to support Dems and save the venomous attacks for the right wing. Thanks for taking my comments.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:51 PM  

  • Well, Anonymous, I'm sorry you're disappointed, but I would note a few things:

    First, I didn't write this post, Frank Moraes did. So are you disappointed with my posts or the posts that appear at this blog in general? We have a number of different contributors, as you may know, and each of us is free to express his/her opinion.

    Second, I don't think there's any inconsistency here, because we're talking about different things. What Frank is saying is that Dems should stand by their politicians the way Repubs do. What I was saying in my post about Snowden is that much of the hostile commentary directed at Snowden and Greenwald seems to be motivated by the view that the president can do no wrong and so any criticism of anything he does, including with respect to "national security," is wrong. Would these Dems be so forgiving if these latest revelations about the NSA came out under a Repub president?

    It is possible to be loyal to one's party, and to that party's politicians, without succumbing to all-or-nothing support. For example, I enthusiastically supported President Obama last year even though I had, and continue to have, serious problems with some of his policies. Is he better than the alternative? Yes, of course. When push comes to shove, when it's a matter of getting a Dem elected, then we do need to put aside our concerns -- that's just the pragmatic thing to do in America's two-party system. But that doesn't mean we should avoid criticism altogether. And I would argue that criticism of Obama on drones and surveillance, for example, shows loyalty to what the party supposedly stands for.

    Are some of my attacks personal? I hardly think so. The vitriol in the case of Snowden and Greenwald is coming from those whom I refer to as surveillance state apologists of the left. How is that personal? It's hardly akin to what happens on the right. But I am certainly disturbed by the ease with which many on the left have embraced the surveillance state, along the lines of what Conor Friedersdorf writes (as I quote in my post), and also the very personal attacks that are being hurled at Snowden, Greenwald, and those who are troubled by what has been revealed about the NSA and the government's massive national security apparatus. Just go on Twitter. It's nasty, it's ugly. It's directed at those two, as well as at "emoprogs" (another smear used by those who go after Snowden and Greenwald) like Chris Hayes. I'm sorry, but we didn't start this.

    Finally, I don't presume to speak for anyone other than myself. And being Canadian has nothing to do with it. I hear that a lot. Who am I to write about the U.S. when I'm not an American. Well, I'm not a U.S. citizen, that's true, but I have American blood in me, a lot of it, I lived there for a long time, and, regardless, what goes on in the U.S. is hardly off limits to non-Americans. What goes on there matters for the entire world given its size and power. And even when I'm deeply critical, my love for American means that my views are expressed as a friendly critic who wants the country to be better than it is.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 11:39 PM  

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