Thursday, April 20, 2006

Working for Effective Politics

Years ago I learned from both my parents, but particularly my father, that it's possible for individuals to take on city hall or rather, in my parent's case, the local county board of supervisors. The experience led to my father being appointed a local representative who dealt effectively with the county for the better part of eight years. Although my father is a Republican, he was supported by both liberals and conservatives in the community largely because he was an effective listener and could translate what he heard into articulate presentations. That's politics when it works the way it's supposed to work.

Now I'm a liberal Democrat but, like my father, I'm a pragmatist first. Zeno of Halfway There has a brilliant essay on what moderates, progressives and liberals need to be thinking about and doing now that the modern conservative movement has largely failed this nation:
The conservative moment is over. The experiment has failed, crashing down in the face of reality. The Republican Congress and the Bush White House set themselves up in opposition to the most basic truths in a display of hubris that historians will puzzle over forever. Even arithmetic is the enemy of today's shameless scions of the conservative legacy: Tax cuts and spending increases do not add up to a balanced budget. Such a surprise.

Not long ago it seemed that reality was more unpopular in the progressive community. Leftists like Alan Sokal decried the tendencies of his political allies to fall prey to extreme social constructivism: everything is relative, truth is personal, and objectivity is only a myth. Sokal famously demonstrated the willingness of the anything-goes crowd to swallow the most absurd nonsense by expressing New Age cant in the language of physics and getting it published. His lesson was that critical thinking should never go out of style. Who knew that our political opponents in the hard-headed conservative movement would turn out to be the wackiest postmodernists of all?

Nothing exemplifies this reality drift better than the GOP's behavior in Congress. The long-entrenched Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives was dramatically ousted in the general election of 1994. The Republican “Contract with America” promised a series of good-government reforms, but in merely a dozen years the GOP majority has descended to a level of sleaze that exceeds anything the House Democrats managed in their forty-year reign.


The progressive on-line community is already marshalling its troops. We fell short in 2004, but that simply heightens the importance of not failing again. The nation pays a price every day that the Bush administration continues with its mendacity-based domestic and foreign policies. The truth campaign is under way, as exemplified by such manifestos as Chris Mooney's The Republican War on Science and Crashing the Gate by Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga. Get both and get ready to be part of it.

There is work for everyone to do. What will your role be? While I am only a bit player myself, I do have a story to tell. Today I'm a math teacher who ventures in from the political sidelines occasionally to write a letter to the editor, e-mail a candidate's campaign, pony up some contributions, and participate in local rallies. (I'm tall. At one rally a campaign aide gave me the job of holding up a large sign between some banner-waving half-drunk GOP frat boys and the TV cameras. It was fun.) Before getting my faculty appointment, however, I served under the golden dome of the California state capitol as a legislative aide....

The whole post is worth everyone's time. I hope Zeno and others write more on this.


Blogger Anthony Fazzio said...

Thanks for coming to Lafayette Democrats Blog. Your site is great! We'll be back on a regular basis. Let's us know if you'd like to cross-blog to our site.

8:39 PM  

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