I have been feeling a bit deflated because this fortune cookie seems to be both so taunting and vague. But Mark Price posted a link on Twitter that makes me think this fortune cookie really could be adopted as the slogan for today’s Democrats. Not that it should, mind you, but it certainly could.
Anyway, if Democrats are feeling a bit deflated, perhaps they too see something both taunting and vague in Democratic leadership.
The evidence is everywhere and a good example of the thinking supporting my thesis is in an article posted by Mark Price. It is a blog post by Jared Bernstein , an occassional contributor on fiscal and economic issues on network television and one-time economic advisor to the Obama White House. I can’t say I know that Mr. Bernstein is a Democrat, but most people would certainly agree that he is a liberal economist and has advised our Democratic president.
No need to go into a lot of detail here regarding the article. As far as my point is concerned, the article speaks for itself. There is a sort of ironic tone about it. Democrats today seem to think that the best way to fight a good fight is to wait until the other side gets bored or implodes or maybe just goes away. Democrats have always been a little too accommodating, it is why they don’t march lock-step to single defined agenda and spew the same talking points, true or not. But doesn’t Mr. Bernstein’s position here just throw in the towel?
Bernstein is saying there are many things we should be doing to change the bleak job situation in the United States. He agrees with arguments Paul Krugman made recently about how a WPA-style works program would both put people to work and give a good economic boost to our sluggish economy, for example. These are things we should do…and, in fact, we could be doing them, too.
But with the likes of Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan “ascending” in Washington, maybe we chicken out a little. Bernstein seems to say so even as he says we shouldn’t go that far. He asks Paul Krugman to write an article or two that deal with what we could do versus what we should do. In short, Bernstein is conceding. He’s saying because the right has its way — and power — we need to be a realist and do what we can do. Well…yes and no and maybe. Look at it this way, if you were going into a boxing ring with Mike Tyson and you felt pretty sure you were going to lose, would you show up entirely unprepared? Maybe leave the gloves at home?
If you take this kind of thinking into politics, presumably waiting for a better day to beat your opponent, then this definitely sounds like a “good things will come in due course of time” strategy. In the meantime you will get clobbered! And let me ask, as I did in a previous post, what exactly is “due course of time” and what are these “good things” we can expect? Democrats need some leadership here.
Democrats need to at least start defining — and re-defining — an agenda on the left. We can’t get in a situation where we are always trying to remake the Right’s crazy ideas. Democrats should aggressively promote labor, economic, and health care reforms of its own. Define a starting point and defend it. Right now all the messaging is coming from the likes of Cantor and Ryan … and even crazier people like Palin, Paul, and Bachmann … and where is the answer from the left? If we listen to Bernstein it seems to be a rather timid answer at best.
Put your gloves on!