The Democratic Party has for many decades — since the 1930’s in fact — has apparently been unable to respond aggressively and clearly to repeated horrific governance decisions made by the Republican Party. I don’t know if the Democrats are afraid of not playing nice and thereby offending someone who might be not quite a Republican or if they’re just inept. Probably some of both.
But a footnote to an insightful piece appearing today on Huffington Post brought the problem into stark relief for me. The article was about Fox’s George Will’s “firing offense” uttered during an interview about the economic policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930’s. During the interview, Will, a right-wing polemicist whose primary claim to fame is a good vocabulary, made this comment about the way the depression was handled and the cause of a recession that took place for 9 months during the depression:
There is a serious argument to be made that Roosevelt stopped too soon. Far from being bold, he wasn’t bold enough, because the recession within the depression that came along in 1937 came because they prematurely declared victory.
In other words, in the context of both the interview and the history he was reviewing, Will suggested that a good argument could be made that cutting government spending (stimulus) too soon caused the recession and prolonged the Depression.
This kind of thinking, as the article points out, is right-wing heresy. And while Will still has his job at Fox, it’s safe to bet that high-level conversations about his future with the network are being conducted as you read this.
HuffPo columnist Paul Abrams placed a footnote at the point in the text when he was discussing Will’s heretical comment. Here’s the footnote itself:
Note how nothing has changed on the Right. Despite their opposing all of FDR’s spending in the first place, despite calling for even more precipitous cuts in spending that would have made everything even worse, they had no embarrassment, no twinge of intellectual dishonesty, calling it the Roosevelt Recession. Today, they [falsely] accuse Obama of cutting Medicare, whereas they would destroy it, forever. The difference is today’s Democrats are so inept, they cannot make hay of it, whereas FDR did. (Emphasis added)
The Democrats, if they are to regain any sort of legislative control nationally or in the states, must call out Republicans when they make outlandishly ridiculous, historically inaccurate, ignorant comments such as can be heard and read on all of the mainstream and progressive news media in great numbers every day. As distasteful as I find it, name-calling may well need to become the Order of the Day.
Climate change deniers’ comments are in fact unsupported by the science, self-serving and incomplete, but those high-falutin’ judgments don’t win voters. Let’s call them what they are: dangerous, selfish, ignorant, and flat-out wrong. The people who espouse such views are not well-meaning, misguided individuals, they are selfish, narrow-minded bigots interested only in political pandering. They either know they’re wrong in which case they are immoral pursuers of power at any cost, or they don’t realize they’re wrong in which case they ought not be qualified to hold public office. There is no sense in which this subject comes down to different ways of accomplishing the same goal. The planet is in danger. The human race really could become extinct. And as my favorite video on this subject argues, even if 97% of scientists are wrong, fixing the problem is less expensive than not fixing it in any case.
Democrats need to be bold, to call foul when confronted with willful ignorance or political pandering. To use clear, unambiguous language to call out the opposition and force them to defend their positions with facts and science, not ancient holy books and centuries-old prejudices.
I don’t expect this to happen. I expect the Democrats to continue to try to out-Republican the Republicans, to tread lightly when describing their opponents despite the ugly language used against them, to turn the other cheek and to cede control to the Party of No. That’s one of many reasons why I’m a Green.