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Barack Obama

Here.

Or to make the point differently: How can we ask Republican senators to resist pressure from their right wing and vote against flawed appointees like John Bolton, if we engage in similar rhetoric against Democrats who dissent from our own party line? How can we expect Republican moderates who are concerned about the nation’s fiscal meltdown to ignore Grover Norquist’s threats if we make similar threats to those who buck our party orthodoxy?

I am not drawing a facile equivalence here between progressive advocacy groups and right-wing advocacy groups. The consequences of their ideas are vastly different. Fighting on behalf of the poor and the vulnerable is not the same as fighting for homophobia and Halliburton. But to the degree that we brook no dissent within the Democratic Party, and demand fealty to the one, “true” progressive vision for the country, we risk the very thoughtfulness and openness to new ideas that are required to move this country forward. When we lash out at those who share our fundamental values because they have not met the criteria of every single item on our progressive “checklist,” then we are essentially preventing them from thinking in new ways about problems. We are tying them up in a straightjacket and forcing them into a conversation only with the converted.

Let me be clear: I am not arguing that the Democrats should trim their sails and be more “centrist.” In fact, I think the whole “centrist” versus “liberal” labels that continue to characterize the debate within the Democratic Party misses the mark. Too often, the “centrist” label seems to mean compromise for compromise sake, whereas on issues like health care, energy, education and tackling poverty, I don’t think Democrats have been bold enough. But I do think that being bold involves more than just putting more money into existing programs and will instead require us to admit that some existing programs and policies don’t work very well. And further, it will require us to innovate and experiment with whatever ideas hold promise (including market- or faith-based ideas that originate from Republicans).

Categories: The Left
  1. rob
    October 2, 2005 at 4:18 am

    He’d probably be one of my ideal presidents, he always seems to hit the nail right on the head. What’s his support like with the general population?

  2. October 2, 2005 at 6:28 pm

    I have no idea. I would guess that he’s still pretty much unknown.

  3. S4R
    October 2, 2005 at 8:08 pm

    He’s extremely popular in northern Illinois, obviously, but it’s not without merits. He still makes appearances on local news broadcasts and holds town hall meetings. It’s my guess that most U.S. Senators don’t really do these things after they’re elected.

  4. October 3, 2005 at 12:13 am

    compromise’S sake. grrr.

    But thanks for the link. I’m another fan.

  5. Billy
    October 3, 2005 at 6:49 am

    Civility is very important. However, communications is a two way street. Before you vilify a person who attacks a vote taken against partyline, ask yourself, has the person voted who that way fully explained his/her reasoning to do that vote?

  6. October 3, 2005 at 7:20 pm

    True. I don’t think the people bucking the party line are angels; attacking people against the Roberts nomination “hostage to special interests,” for example, is hardly fair.

  7. October 3, 2005 at 10:10 pm

    I really think Barack will end up being our first black president. My mother will be scandalized, but I can’t wait.

  1. October 3, 2005 at 10:26 pm

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