A link on Skydancing
brought this 2005 post on Daily Kos
to my attention. The author, Senator Barack Obama, addresses the issue of how Democrats should respond to the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court.
Obama counsels Kos readers not to castigate Feingold and Leahy for their votes in favor of Roberts. To that extent, Senator Obama and I agree. However, the bulk of Obama's post now seems dismaying, even horrifying. We should have known; we should have seen it coming...
I am convinced that, our mutual frustrations and strongly-held beliefs notwithstanding, the strategy driving much of Democratic advocacy, and the tone of much of our rhetoric, is an impediment to creating a workable progressive majority in this country.
According to the storyline that drives many advocacy groups and Democratic activists - a storyline often reflected in comments on this blog - we are up against a sharply partisan, radically conservative, take-no-prisoners Republican party. They have beaten us twice by energizing their base with red meat rhetoric and single-minded devotion and discipline to their agenda. In order to beat them, it is necessary for Democrats to get some backbone, give as good as they get, brook no compromise, drive out Democrats who are interested in "appeasing" the right wing, and enforce a more clearly progressive agenda. The country, finally knowing what we stand for and seeing a sharp contrast, will rally to our side and thereby usher in a new progressive era.
I think this perspective misreads the American people. From traveling throughout Illinois and more recently around the country, I can tell you that Americans are suspicious of labels and suspicious of jargon. They don't think George Bush is mean-spirited or prejudiced, but have become aware that his administration is irresponsible and often incompetent. They don't think that corporations are inherently evil (a lot of them work in corporations), but they recognize that big business, unchecked, can fix the game to the detriment of working people and small entrepreneurs. They don't think America is an imperialist brute, but are angry that the case to invade Iraq was exaggerated, are worried that we have unnecessarily alienated existing and potential allies around the world, and are ashamed by events like those at Abu Ghraib which violate our ideals as a country.
Do I need to say it?
If the American people are "suspicious of labels and suspicious of jargon," then why do millions of people believe all of that nonsensical jargon about Barack Obama being a socialist? If the "radical conservatism" of the Republicans is just a "storyline," then why did the Republican candidates say the many radical things they said during the 2012 primary season debates? Why is Glenn Beck, a radical if ever there was one, so popular? If Fox News does not constitute "radical conservatism," then what does
Why did Obama feel a need, in 2005, to accept as a given the baseless Republican frame that liberals view all corporations as evil? Instead of decrying that absurd smear, the senator made it the foundation for his argument.
Apparently, the Obama of 2005 believed that anyone who said that Democrats must develop a backbone was the adherent of a "storyline." Perhaps that's why he has kept his own vertebrae so supple, so rubbery.
In 2005, Obama denounced those Democrats who denounced appeasement. As president, he appeased a-plenty. And how did that