I’m getting more and more concerned that people have no idea how politics in America works. Every day I get email and see stories about how the Democrats are failing, how they are impotent and have poor leadership. This may be the case, but are people really so foolish as to believe that politicians are going to live up to our idealized view of them, especially given the current political realities?
It’s a testament to how bad the first 6 years of Bush & Co was that Democrats pulled off a stunning comeback last year. And with that came all the unfair disadvantages of having to live up to the hype. Pile on two people who had never led a Congress before and the media ready to strike and you have a looming disaster. Out came the Republican frame of weak-kneed, tax and spend, troop hating Dems and 11 months later, no one is happy and Congress has achieved the heretofore impossible feat of being less popular than the president.
This has been a particularly ugly month for the Democrats, the supposed protectors of all that is good and progressive in America. We have a political campaign turning ugly, thanks Billy Shaheen and Bill Clinton. We have a seemingly impotent Congress that cannot pass anything of real value. And we have the never-ending war. On top of that, the likely Republican nominee is a bible-thumping, non-evolution believing Republican who, if he won the White House, would likely be as bad or worse than Bush. Basically, Americans are shaking their head in disbelief.
Now, I will preface this by saying that it may all turn out okay. We may very well wind up with the first woman or black man as president and a much stronger Congressional majority. Unfortunately, right now we feel let down and are rather surly about it. Unfortunately, disappointment is part of politics, no matter who you follow, and I counsel a bit of patience for Democrats learning how to wield control when they have no power. The learning curve is steep and fraught with peril.
But first a few words on the suddenly sorry state of Clintonia, where everything was all sunny and bright up to a few weeks ago. Now, Hillary is slipping in the polls and looking beatable. The opponent stepping up is not Edwards as some would have predicted, but Barack Obama. The guy whose closet includes shady "accusations" of Koran worship and admitted teenage drug experimentation. For some reason, the husband of Jeanne Shaheen was working on Hillary’s campaign and not his wife’s - maybe a good thing considering how badly we need that Senate seat and how much of a screw up he was. His attack on Obama’s drug past was crude and roundly bashed, even by an apologetic Clinton herself. Chastened, he slunk off into the political night where he belongs.
All well and good, but then came the shameful attacks by Bill this weekend. The illusion that the Clintons cared as much about the party as themselves seems finally shattered. And the (not exactly) fantastic 90s delusion they have been selling recently was lifted with reminders of how badly Bill screwed up this country. Sure he was economically sound, but he had a lot of failures - allowed the neocons to come out of their caves and take over Congress, laying the ground work for Bush, sidelining Gore and presiding over the ubiquitous SUVs that now litter and pollute our landscape, Somalia, not intervening in Rwanda, and of course - the blow job, which cost Gore the presidency and waylaid Bill’s final years in office. One of the best things about Hillary losing would be to finally loosen the grip the Clintons have had on the Democratic Party. That would be a very good thing.
I’m not going to be popular for saying this, but the Netroots needs to take a timeout. My fellow liberals are foaming at the mouth that Democrats can’t ram their agenda through - even though they have 51 seats in the Senate, which historically means you can’t do anything if you don’t have the White House. Elsewhere on this blog, I have advocated shutting government down after fixing the AMT because no good is going to come out of these circumstances and none will until Bush is through. But in the meantime, why don’t the ‘Net liberals support Democrats and try to get them to stand up without the bashing that seems to be going on. It strikes me as incredibly naive to assault Democrats on things they can’t control and potentially push people to either not vote or support the only other party in existence. The only way to get the agenda done is to have an increased majority and that should be the focus of every liberal.
It’s really simple - keep your eyes on the prize people. We need upwards of 60 Senators and another 20 to 30 seats in the House. And we need a Democrat in the White House. Then we get the rest of what we want. In the meantime, console yourselves with higher minimum wage and raised fuel standards. In politics, there is always a long hard road to travel to get what you want. If you have to stop for gas along the way, that’s just one of the rules of the road.