Sunday, May 07, 2006

Avatar Politics

Dealing with the political naifs of the left is really annoying. They agree that the Bush administration is the worst that has ever been, but at once turn around and caterwaul about how they just can't bring themselves to vote for a Democrat. Why not? Because they don't have backbone, because they are appeasers, because they don't inspire, because they don't act out in ways that give me personal emotional satisfaction.

OK, so who should be elected? More people like Russ Feingold, a real Democrat who doesn't compromise and is steadfast in his opposition to Evil (TM).

Huh. OK, then, how about this comment by Billmon:

That Goss was as unfit for his job as Bernie Kerik would have been for his (if Kerik's own overactive zipper hadn't blown him out of the running before he even left the gate) should have been obvious from the start. Actually it was obvious. Here's what I wrote at the time of Goss's appointment:

When Richard Nixon decided to bang heads together at the CIA, and thereby stop the flow of Watergate-related leaks he suspected were originating there, he at least sent in James Schlesinger - an experienced bureacrat who'd already paid his dues in the national security state. Bush, on the other hand, is sending in a partisan hack congressman with absolutely no experience managing large organizations, and whose glory days as a CIA operative are more than three decades in the past.

Of course, as you would expect, this didn't keep 28 Democratic Senators (including Messrs. Feingold, Daschle, Reid and Schumer, and Ms. Boxer) from voting to confirm the son of a bitch, despite Goss's track record on the House Intelligence Committee, where he proved an even bigger political tool of the Cheney administration than his Senate counterpart, Pat Roberts, R-Coverup. Foreign policy bipartisanship may be dead, but that hasn't stopped a lot of people who should know better from continuing to try to suckle the corpse.

The Night Porter Checks Out

In short, your golden boy voted for a partisan hack, fully knowing the depths of this guy's hackitude. When he had a chance to make a real difference, as opposed to posturing in the limelight, he caved. Isn't that what the idiot left says about Pelosi, Reid, Kerry, etc.?

Let's put it another way; Feingold went along to get along, saving his fight for another day. He acted as a politician, not as a tent revival preacher. He acted like other Democrats, and he will do so again. You may not acknowledge him doing this because you want to maintain the fantasy of your pure candidate vs. the dirty ones, but he has, does and will continue to act like a responsible representative of his constituents. And that means voting for policy and strategy reasons, not just for ideology.

Instead of demanding that elected officials act as avatars of your anger, which is the tactic that the right uses with inevitable bait-and-switch results once election day is at an end, you're going to have to compromise with other people who are left of center, but less so than yourself. It's easy to believe in the echo-chamber of Daily Kos and comparable sites that you are more numerous and more powerful than you really are. You are only strong enough to defeat your own candidate, which is why the center-left distrusts you. And they are right to do so.

Avatar politics, a pledge to act out the resentments of the partisans, is the core of authoritarian regimes. It is effective and powerful - it has captured the Republican party and America, after all, and is the ground of our current national shame. It is what the idiot left is demanding the Democratic party adopt as its modus operandi, confusing desire with policy and being willing to sacrifice the core tenant of liberal democracy - compromise - for personal emotional satisfaction. It is replacing the public good with private proclivity.

No, this doesn't mean roll over for the Democratic dinosaurs or backstabbing opportunists like Lieberman. It means don't act out your resentment in the voting booth. It means realizing that you have to persuade and convince, not just demand. It means joining forces with Howard Dean to restore and reinvigorate the Democratic party from the local precincts on up.

Avatar politics only works if you have an enemy and feel like you're on the winning side. Look at the drop in poll numbers for Bush & the Rethugs. Sure, you can behave like a left-wing version of this, but you consign yourself to permanent minority party status because your resentments are not visceral and frightening enough to attract voters. They are only strong enough to let you spoil the vote and keep the fascists in power.


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