Tuesday, May 9

WonkyTonk blues

Michael Tomasky’s feature story in this month’s American Prospect started off like most articles trying to analyze and deconstruct the Democratic party until there’s nothing left but a few defeatist sighs. Despite the Democrats-have-no-ideas meme that’s been bandied about on every cable news show, they have begun to emerge as a disciplined opposition party in the face of corruption, blind adulation and broken promises. Tomasky discusses the brand of liberalism practiced by Democrats immediately after the New Deal:

“…liberalism was built around the idea--the philosophical principle--that citizens should be called upon to look beyond their own self-interest and work for a greater common interest.”

Civic republicanism is how Tomasky defines this participatory creation of the common good, and he approaches it from a center-left point of view of political labels and ideology. The new (old?) narrative should link politics and morality, moving beyond the endless lists of narrow coalitions and liberal interest groups. John McGurk in his book, Civic Republicanism, gives a clear interpretation of the "central strands in civic republicanism: they are, predictably, freedom, the civic virtues, participation, the common good, and public versus private interests." One of the central principles of the republican tradition in political theory is the belief in a notion of the “common good,” but what is that, exactly? Perhaps there was a time when the pursuit of the common good was a viable option in politics of the past, but right now, the US is a more unequal society than it has been in generations. To speak of a common good in such an unequal period of history is disingenuous and somewhat deceptive because like it or not, we are a class society with conflicting interests. Civic republicanism is a good start to forming a new idealogical face of the Democratic Party, but the idea of class politics has to be kept alive. There needs to be a constant state of creative tension between Democrats and Republicans in order to avoid the mutual destruction that we see on blogs, newspapers and the network news. Tomasky’s final thought:

“The Democrats must grasp this, kick some old habits, and realize that we are on the verge of a turning point. The Democratic left wants it to be 1968 in perpetuity; the Democratic center wishes for 1992 to repeat itself over and over again. History, however, doesn’t oblige such wishes -- it rewards those who recognize new moments as they arise. It might just be that the Bush years, these years of civic destruction and counterfeit morality, have provided the Democrats the opening to argue on behalf of civic reconstruction and genuine public morality. If they do it the right way, they can build a politics that will do a lot more than squeak by in this fall’s (or any) elections based on the usual unsatisfying admixture of compromises. It can smash today’s paradigm to pieces. The country needs nothing less. The task before today’s Democratic Party isn’t just to eke out electoral victories; it’s to govern, and to change our course in profound ways. I’d like to think they can do it. But the Democrats must become republicans first.

Small R republicans, mind you. Any thoughts? On a completely unrelated note, a Yale University historian found a letter from 1918 that maybe, just maybe, the urban legend of Geronimo’s skull being stolen by the super-secret Skull and Bones society might just be true. Whatever…if you want good Skull and Bones stories, you can hit up Alex Jones at Infowars.com. The thing I found most curious about the article is that there was no mention of George Bush senior, or George W. Bush as a couple of their more famous members. The only ones mentioned: Sen. John Kerry, President William Howard Taft, numerous members of Congress, media leaders, Wall Street financiers, the scions of wealthy families and agents in the CIA. Hm.
And finally, for no reason whatsoever, here's today's Bush-picture of the day:
Jenna and Barbara were WAY ahead of Old Navy with their puffy, oversized American flag tees.


Earn My Vote said...

Oh,how nice. That's such a cute and patriotic family picture.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it, though? It's believable.