Thursday, July 30, 2009

When Will the Democrats Learn?: Mike Lux and Steve Weber on the Choices Facing Leaders Who Want to Lead

Re: the health care debacle, I wrote yesterday,

Where's the leadership in the spineless Democratic party and the White House to challenge this betrayal of core values by members of the Democratic party now serving in Congress?

And I find Mike Lux
asking the same question, in an article echoing the Peter, Paul, and Mary refrain, “When will they ever learn?”:

This inability to change Washington is all the more remarkable given the events of the past few years. George W. Bush simultaneously expanded presidential power and destroyed the Republican Party brand. Democrats won sweeping historical victories two elections in a row. Voters proved they were more open to bigger historical change than anyone would have predicted just a few years ago, electing an African-American son of an immigrant with an African-Muslim name, a candidate who beat the strongly favored establishment candidate of his party by running a campaign calling for big change. The economy collapsed in a more dramatic fashion than in any way in American history except for the Great Depression.

You would have thought that with all that dramatic change and upheaval going on in such a short time, that Democrats would have been able to be bigger and bolder in their thinking. But they seem to be stuck in the business-as-usual ways of doing things.

And I
wrote yesterday as well about the death grip the blue dog Democrats seem to have on the nation, as they cater to the irrational, anti-scientific religious views of their constituents, and as they permit those constituents to be in the driver’s seat when national policy is established. I noted in that posting, and I’ve noted in many previous postings, that the calculating pragmatism of the Obama administration, which wants to treat every idea as rationally and morally equivalent to every other idea in national policy debates, gives voice to irrational and immoral viewpoints that ought not to be legitimated in a progressive society.

Moving ahead requires making hard decisions about which path to take—about right and wrong. About moral imperatives that are non-negotiable in healthy, well-functioning participatory democracies.

We will not move ahead—we cannot move ahead—as long as we keep putting in the driver’s seat those whose anti-rational views, based in understandings of religion peculiar to minority groups in this nation, conflict with fundamental principles necessary for the viability of democracy. Whether with regard to the human rights of gay citizens or health care reform, the ultimate goal of these groups is not to serve the core values of our democratic society. It is to impose their peculiar, religion-based, anti-rational views on everyone, and block progressive change.

This is a point Steven Weber
makes powerfully today in a Huffington Post article about the necessity of choosing one path or the other, of either doing what is right or frankly admitting that we know what is right but do not intend to do it. Weber says,

The division is clear. It is, finally, right versus wrong. And on this side of the division we declare:

it is wrong to for a modern, wealthy country to not provide all its citizens with health care.

It is wrong to not provide better education.

It is wrong to go to war unilaterally.

It is wrong to cater to corporate interests when ordinary people are disadvantaged and struggling.

It is wrong to cater to radical, ignorant, religious zealotry and to give it a place at the table when it should be banned to the fringes.

It is wrong to foster a distrust of progress.

It is wrong to have a fear of "otherness."

It is wrong to perpetuate institutionalized racism.

It is wrong to deny science and to avoid culpability in the polluting of our planet.

These are the things a thinking, modern, progressive nation stands for. Those on the other side of the divide -- well, we've seen what they believe in. And, sadly, we've lived it.

To say that religion has an important role to play in democratic societies—as one option among many others that citizens should be permitted to take—is not the same as saying that views peculiar to particular religious bodies, which militate against core democratic values, should be brought to the table in national policy discussions. This is a distinction that sorely needs to be made, as the Obama administration continues its appeasement of anyone and everyone (except its strongest supporters in the progressive community), in the name of consensus-building and bipartisanship.

And as it continues to ignore moral imperatives that it promised to put front and center, prior to the election, when it offered us change we could believe in. For many of us, this election was about our final chance to rebuild a democracy that was virtually dismantled by the previous administration. Hence our dismay at this administration's refusal to respect the moral imperatives it told us during the campaign that it respects, its refusal to make hard choices based on those imperatives, and its refusal to move forward decisively.