When all the blogs have been written and all the speeches given, it comes down to a simple choice. A choice as stark today as it was in the Harlan County mines in 1931.
"Which side are you on, which side are you on? Are you with the union, or are you with the goons, which side are you on?"
Do not be fooled by the ideological component in our political wars; ideas are disposable. They get shredded like confetti when they get in the way of winning. You can see them raining down from the ceiling at the victory party.
The name of the game is winning. The Republicans understand the game, and they play it brilliantly. They don't vote against Obama because they dislike his ideas. It's been two years, anyone can see he doesn't have ideas. He has "preferences" and as the president he gets to act on them, in ways that matter infinitely more than white-paper, intellectual argument.
Like nominating Sonya Sotomayor for the Supreme Court, not Clarence Thomas. Like slipping a sad, precarious, but nonetheless valuable health care bill through Congress. A bill which will save thousands of lives before the Republicans kill it.
In politics, the wages of losing is death. You must deny the other side a victory at all costs.
When Bush was president, bailouts were good. His whole party voted for them. When Obama became president the exact same bailouts were horribly bad. The whole Republican party voted against them. It's not the ideas that changed, it was the side.
The Republicans know this down to their designer marrow. They don't contest elections, they lay siege. Either you're with them or you're the enemy.
I sympathize with the impulse to avoid labels, to just be "practical," to chose neither side and let sweet reason reign. Foolishly, I cling to Rodney King ideal of politics. Can't we all just get along?
No more. The spectacle of the last two years, watching the Republicans sabotage every move the president made because he wasn't one of them, has cured me forever. I know which side I'm on.
I'm a Democrat. Am I a progressive, left-liberal, blue dog or a moderate Democrat? It depends on the issue and it doesn't matter anyway. We'll fight that out in our caucus when we win.
Without our side winning, our side is powerless, my ideas are meaningless, and your dreams are a dead letter.
A thousand decisions a day are made in the government that we know nothing about. The daily workings of the bureaucracy, the diplomatic corps, the military; I want a member of my team making them. I think my side is better for me, for America, and for the world.
The Republicans represent a minority, with a minority view, best summed up as, if you're rich and powerful and contribute a ton of cash, we've got your back. The rest of you are on your own. Government is the enemy and cannot help you. But we know you'll make it because you are the best people in the best country on earth!
They know they can't sell that belief, straight up, so they throw a fog of welfare queens, homosexual deviants, minority leeches and greedy public servants into the people's eyes and hope they stay blind long enough to vote for them.
Most people don't read blogs like this. Most people are content to live their lives and not pay attention to politics but once in two years. Most people, if you ask which side they're on, say neither.
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