Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The progressive paradox

I have just been watching the disappointing result in Massachusetts, where Scott Brown has just won the special senate election. It looks like a big blow against health care and against action on climate change, at least in the short term.

What I want to rant about here is my belief that it is in general progressives who have damaged the Democrat cause and the cause of left-wing progress more than the Tea Party or Beck or Hannity or anyone from the right.

The issue is one of the left always making the perfect the enemy of the good while ignoring political reality, which is the perfect will never pass a Senate that, while dominated in theory by Democrats, is in reality a conservative body with many members from fairly conservative districts.

Progressives love to talk about Obama failing to provide leadership on issues that are key to them, such as health care, climate change and the war in Afghanistan. It seems as if they believe that Obama can somehow force conservatives who feel a bit nervous about their re-election chances to suddenly change their positions and vote for a progressive agenda. It is a fantasy.

But when Obama fails to live up to the fantasy, he gets the blame. And thus the assault on Obama is from the right (which it always was going to be) and from the left.

Further, when Obama does make modest steps towards progressive goals, he is condemned for the deals he has to make in order to make those modest steps - it is almost as if the left think that Obama is betraying them by succeeding. The reason for this seems to be is that what they want is for him to try to things that are guaranteed to fail.

While over the long-term the progressive agenda is moving forward, in the short-term it seems as though progressives are determined to sabotage anything that is less than what they hoped for. And in the process they seem to want the Republicans to regain power, and are doing almost everything in their power to make that happen.

But I guess they can feel good about themselves: after all, they didn't sell out their principles. I hope that that keeps them warm at night - or, rather, cool when temperatures soar because they were not prepared to make some concessions.

1 comment:

  1. The remarkable cohesiveness of the Republicans on the issue of health care reform should have been a warning that Obama's reforms were pushing the political envelope too far, IMO. It will be interesting to see how the current fiasco measures up to Hillarycare with the benefit of hindsight.
    On a tangent, I still believe that Hillary would have made a better president than Obama (although whether she was actually electable is another story ....). I think (based on her performance in the senate) that she would probably have had more luck in reaching across party lines, whereas Obama looks set to be as polarising a president as Bush the Younger.