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Gender: Male
Hometown: Kentucky
Home country: USA
Member since: Wed Aug 28, 2013, 11:14 PM
Number of posts: 256

About Me

I\'m a Democrat.

Journal Archives

Clinton vs. Obama and the Mainsteam of the Democratic Party

I've noticed we've had a spot of feathers-ruffling in the past few days over whether or not Bill Clinton or Barack Obama was the least liberal President. I understand why we'd want to fight these wars over and over, but I think it's worth noting that the vast majority of Obama's positions are currently held by the Clintons as well. That is because, for the most part, they both adhere to party orthodoxy. Let's think about the ramifications of this.

Social issues and foreign policy issues are interesting, but I would suggest that those aren't exactly attuned to any noticeable scale in American politics; as much as the Libertarian Party would like to frame it as a debate between fascists and themselves, we live in a two-party system by design (look up Duverger's Law and why it applies to single member district plurality elections) and the two functional parties have a random assortment of positions that don't always make sense in conjunction. There are real internal splits in each party (moreso the GOP right now) over which direction a party should go, and I get the impression that primaries are more often played out over these issues and certain stylistic debates rather than serious economic policy.

While we can't apply the left-right scale to other issues, it certainly works when talking about economic policy. Since George McGovern lost in 1972, the Democratic Party has been moving further and further towards the Center economically and away from the New Left ideology of the late 60s and early 70s. This has happened at the same time as a rightward shift in Republican ideology, and I think most everyone will agree that America in 2014 does not have the same political center as America in 1974. I also think it's incorrect to assume that post-Bush hasn't seen a gradual change in direction back towards the left; I think it definitely has and the widespread admiration for people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders would be evidence of that. So this brings us to the real question: which of Clinton or Obama is closer to the Left?

The answer, unfortunately, is less clear than we'd like to imagine. Bill Clinton governed as a Centrist in the 1990s, and I think examination of Obama's early political career would suggest that he started off as substantially more open to ideas on the Left than Clinton was. But both of these guys were essentially shaped by their local environments: being a state senator from Chicago makes it much easier to advance core liberal principles than being Governor of Arkansas OR President of the United States. I think both Presidents were essentially products of the political climate of the time, and would suspect that were Obama the President in the 1990s he would have followed similar policies as Clinton, and were Clinton the President today he would be similar to Obama. For all the shock that idea might generate, keep in mind that Obama has surrounded himself with Clintonites as President, and the Clintons have essentially supported and adopted many of the ideas and policies associated with his Presidency.

So what's the point of this comparison? To realize that politicians are essentially actors within a large-scale political game. At a certain level, a lot of people only hope to represent their broad coalition in opposition to the other, and their personal opinions are drowned out by a party machinery that tries to keep a lot of different coalitions happy without pissing off another all too much. Clinton and Obama had a lot of stylistic differences (and a few similarities) and certainly their policies are not identical when compared across two decades. But they are similar in overarching personality and goals, and I think debating which of these mainstream actors is more outside of the mainstream is somewhat counter-intuitive.

Clinton was change from Bush 41. Obama was change from Bush 43. Neither substantially changed the Democratic Party forever. Keeping with the Clinton-Obama faction in 2016 is not going to pull the party *further* rightward, but will instead just leave the party continuing to react to political conditions in the same way it has since McGovern lost in 1972. Substantial change in the direction of the party would only be achieved by nominating a candidate that is outside of the party mainstream AND could actually win the Presidency and wield their influence. The closest we've come to doing this in the past 30 years was the Kerry-Edwards ticket (the most liberal ticket since Mondale for sure) and their loss ensured we stayed on the same path for the Obama era. If people actually think Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren represents a path forward, they may be the alternative in 2016.

Personally I'd love to see this change happen, but worry that Sanders and Warren are unable/unwilling to win either the primary or the general election in 2016. In a perfect world that will never come to pass, substantial electoral reform would allow smaller parties to exist in a proportional representation system, and we could make our own coalitions after elections instead of trying to manage them before.
Posted by DemocraticWing | Thu May 8, 2014, 03:36 PM (5 replies)

Looks Like Newt is Really Getting Into May Day

Is he starting to go socialist?


Newt Gingrich ‏@newtgingrich 5h

The right answer to the Clippers ownership challenge is to sell it to the people of Los Angeles. Green Bay, not billionaires, is the model.

Posted by DemocraticWing | Thu May 1, 2014, 11:51 PM (0 replies)

Happy May Day!

Workers of the world remember: we have no chance to defeat the oligarchs unless we ORGANIZE and STAND UNITED.

Solidarity Forever!

Posted by DemocraticWing | Thu May 1, 2014, 01:06 AM (1 replies)

Here Is Why Capitalism Can't Work

Posted by DemocraticWing | Tue Mar 11, 2014, 03:47 AM (8 replies)

I Wonder If Jason Carter Can Capitalize On This

In case you didn't know, Governor Nathan Deal (R-GA) is up for re-election this fall. His opponent is Jason Carter, grandson of our greatest post-Vietnam President, who is running about 5-8 points back in the polls right now. Carter is raising a lot of money, and Georgia has been trending purple for a few years, so a lot of people are thinking he may have a shot to beat Deal if he plays his cards right.

Enter the winter storm in Atlanta. Let's get one thing out of the way: 2-3 inches of snow is not the apocalypse. This happens in Atlanta every few years, and EVERY time the officials promise they'll handle it better when it happens again. The Mayor of Atlanta will probably get some heat for this (in 2011 he promised that his city would be prepared for the next time it snowed) but the state government is definitely going to have to deal with this problem as well. Today Gov. Deal blamed everything on metereologists, despite the fact that Atlanta was under a Winter Storm Warning before the storm hit. The decisions by everybody in the area to go on with work, school, transport, and life in general caused a horrible traffic crunch in the middle of the snow, and the problems were a result of those poor decisions.

If you've never been to Georgia, you should probably also know that the roads aren't very good. As a state they spend less on transportation than almost every other state, they have very little viable public transportation options even though Atlanta is a gigantic metropolis, and they have historically struggled with responding to winter weather. A lot of people have made excuses for Georgia's incompetent Republican government based on the assumption that they don't own any equipment...but they actually do have some salt trucks, although it's clear they should buy more.

Jason Carter should capitalize on the palpable anger in Georgia and make this into an election issue. The suburbs are pissed, and those are the population centers that he could possibly run on this issue in. If Carter criticizes Deal's lack of preparedness for the situation, and promises a major investment in transportation including PLENTY of equipment to deal with winter weather...he may just be able to win over enough votes to make this a completely different election.
Posted by DemocraticWing | Wed Jan 29, 2014, 03:45 PM (6 replies)

How Do Vaccines Cause Autism?

They fucking don't.

More here: http://howdovaccinescauseautism.com/
Posted by DemocraticWing | Wed Jan 29, 2014, 01:44 AM (11 replies)

I'm Tired of Bridgegate

American political scandals, for the most part, are pretty boring and unimportant. Chris Christie is a jerk, and surely not fit to be President, but this story is really only important in the sense that it's getting plenty of media coverage. It's the same thing with nearly every scandal really, and Republicans are the worst at literally manufacturing crap to sling at Democratic politicians, which is a bit different than what's going on in New Jersey.

Don't get me wrong, Christie acted wrongly and will suffer consequences due to that. He's not going to jail, and probably won't have to resign, but I have no doubt that the New Jersey Senate is going to hold his feet to the fire for the rest of his term. His Presidential aspirations are likely gone as well, although I can't predict what's going to happen 18 months in the future.

The reason I'm starting this thread though, has actually little to do with Chris Christie or this scandal itself. My issue is that stories can get stuck in the media cycle for weeks, and dwarf other more important events. Bridgegate isn't very important in comparison to the violence in the streets of Kiev at the moment. Americans like to think about ourselves constantly, but people are dying in the Ukraine because of their political disagreements. There is some talk of civil war. It's not just Ukraine of course, there is some pretty bad violence in the CAR right now as well. There have been some huge diplomatic developments on the Iran question, and Egypt has a new Constitution too.

This even spreads to the events here at home. While we've been focused on New Jersey, the biggest domestic story of 2014 is actually occurring in West Virginia. They very real consequences of unfettered capitalism have poisoned the drinking water for many thousands of people. Perspective is important.

After having written this, I realize my point kind of got away from me. That's alright I suppose. I'll sum it up with this: we should of course be making sure we don't let people like Chris Christie get away with their misdeeds, but I hope we do this knowing that many more important events are unfolding around the world as we speak.
Posted by DemocraticWing | Sun Jan 19, 2014, 09:18 PM (23 replies)

Found Some Interesting Poll Data


This poll mostly has to with marijuana use, but it does ask respondents about whether or not they feel a list of things (including alcohol consumption, marijuana consumption, abortion, homosexual behavior, and cheating on your spouse) is morally wrong.

The poll found that 50% of respondents still felt that "homosexual behavior" (perhaps not the best wording of the question) was morally wrong, although at least that's better than the 82% who thought it was wrong in 1987.

So yeah, the world has com a long way in the last two decades, but it's important to remember that we still have a long way to go. Most straight people still, deep down, think it's wrong to be gay. They may say they love us, and they may even struggle for our legal equality alongside us, but we have to keep changing their minds before we ever get full acceptance.

I'm not terribly surprised by these findings, although a little upset I guess. Just a bit of sobering news after what has been a string of good news for our civil rights struggle in the last few years.
Posted by DemocraticWing | Mon Jan 6, 2014, 09:03 PM (1 replies)

Buffalo Sabres Win on Improbable Butt Goal

You don't see this every day:

Posted by DemocraticWing | Tue Dec 24, 2013, 06:02 AM (3 replies)

Coming soon to Real America: Duck Fil-A

Because that's obviously where this controversy is heading. Just like Dan Cathy, this Robertson guy (surprisingly not Pat this time) managed to say something stupid in an interview, and is suffering the consequences of decent people deciding not to associate with his bigotry. Although this time, in addition to homophobic stupidity, our intrepid hero has decided to throw some racism into the mix.

Already the Right is circling the wagons to defend their precious celebrity, mainly because all the real celebrities are either Democrats or further left, and they're using plenty of the same arguments to defend the man who killed Daffy Duck as they did the man who killed Foghorn Leghorn. The unfortunate thing about their defense is that plenty of ill-informed (but perhaps not completely terrible) people are buying into some of their BS. For example...

The amount of people who have a limited understanding of the First Amendment is somewhat staggering, although I guess it's worth noting that these people have such a poor grasp of the concept of rights that they continuously vote to strip LGBT people of their rights because they somehow think it would threaten their own. But in general, there seem to be millions of Americans (many of whom unfortunately vote) who have no idea what the term "freedom of speech" means.

I doubt A&E would suspend Phil Robertson for being a bigot if he was the janitor who worked for $8 an hour at their studio, because that person isn't the main representative of their business. But Phil Robertson is a very public and well-known icon who represents A&E, so when GQ interviews him in his capacity as a famous television star, what he says reflects on his television network. Considering that A&E doesn't want to offend large segments of America, since that would hurt ratings, sales, and everything else that makes those people money...they aren't going to employ people who are going to publicly promote racism and homophobia in their capacity as representatives of their network. They are going to punish them, and unless the Roberts Court has ruled that corporations officially control government now (which is entirely possible actually,) then this in no way prevents Phil Robertson from his precious right to freedom of speech.

If tomorrow night Chris Matthews started screaming anti-Semitic slurs while burning an American flag in the middle of Hardball, I assume he would be fired. I don't know if Fox News stars have found a way to get fired, but I bet if Sean Hannity spends all evening masturbating on camera tomorrow, he'd get in at least a little trouble. This is how television works, and the people of Dick Dynasty are of course no exceptions to that rule. But conservatives aren't going to give into that fact just yet, so enjoy the next few days while millions of your fellow Americans point out that they love a dumb TV show more than their gay and/or black friends*.

*Note: These people will tell you they have gay and black friends, but there is no proof of this.
Posted by DemocraticWing | Thu Dec 19, 2013, 01:54 AM (4 replies)
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