Our Long National Nightmare is Over…and now…

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Tuesday night we were all fixated to the polls. We all cried (or at least I know I did – it was John Lewis that broke my dam on that front). I even cried yesterday, and I wasn’t the only one. Here in Blue Connecticut there were many tear stained faces, many relieved looks, even a pervasive, genuine happiness.

I bought the paper with Obama’s picture on it and the caption, “Mr. President” at the grocery store. The young woman ringing me up said, “I’m really glad he won yesterday.”

Obama’s remade the electoral map. Now it is time for us to remake our ideological maps – or specifically, I would advocate, completely rip those maps into shreds and start over.

From the losing side of Tuesday’s elections we hear pretty much one resounding thing from conservatives, “we weren’t conservative enough“. Sam Brownback reiterated the cliche that the GOP is still “the party of ideas”, and I’m sure Newt is waiting somewhere to trot out his standard refrain, “we came to change Washington and Washington changed us”.

Wanna completely decimate these folks? Let them remain the ideologues they’ve always been. It was, after all, their blind love of their ideology, their refusal to question or veer away from any part of it – even when reality gave them repeated cold slaps in the face – that created the mess we’re currently in.

Ideology is dead. Long live pragmatism.

So, let the right sip tea and cocktails and discuss invisible hands and objectivism and all the rest. Give it to them. Let them grab those anchors as they fall, cartoon character-style, off the cliff of popular opinion.

We need to take up the mantle of building the framework for the new administration, and the new era of Obama (yes, I do get excited writing that phrase).

There should be two guiding principles in this new time:

Will it work?


Is it just?

Within this framework can fit any number of proposals coming from the left, right and center of the political spectrum. This is as pragmatic and as big tent as you can get. And, instead of “triangulating” or seeking that elusive center – which generally leads to half baked solutions and compromising just for the sake of compromise – this approach can actually fix our problems.

Fixing our problems is, after all, what the American people want to see happen.

So, brothers and sisters on the left and in the progressive movement, I’m going to ask you to do something pretty hard: drop your ideology. Trash that Overton window. Let’s look at all proposals, all ideas – even those coming from the aforementioned ideologues – and send them through the test of “will it work” and “is it just”. Making the right fight for their ideas on this new ground – instead of the tired, old “America is a center-right country” or the standard culture-war distractions – will, I believe, force them to discard a lot of the disasterous proposals that would only add to all of the problems on our plate.

The next two years will determine if what happened Tuesday will reverberate for a generation, or whether it will just be a political blip in time.

I’m fighting for that generational change. Who’s with me?


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  1. …be pragmatists!

    Seriously, though…I think the 2012 elections may very well be about “party of ideas” vs “party of solutions”, and pragmatism is one of the best distinctions we can draw.

  2. That real, just…workable, solutions have come out of our ideology.

    If you make ONLY pragmatic decisions, with no principle (ideology) behind them….well, for instance, why is it pragmatic to have gay “marriage” rather than civil unions which grant the same pragmatic rights?

    The difference, imo, is … what is just?

    And the definition of justice….comes from ideology.

    Conservatives do NOT think it is just for gays to marry, we do.

    It is the difference of ideology, that our ideology includes equality for all and theirs doesn’t, that drives the policy.

    So the question inevitably becomes one of balancing pragmatism against what we think is just, which is determined by…our ideology! In that way we cannot just put our ideology aside. Because deciding as a society what is just is inherently an ideological process.

  3. Not until every last stinking animal that turned this once-great nation into a fascist police state is in prison.  If we don’t put them away forever, the same thing will happen all over again – and sooner than we care to think, because we refuse to learn from history.

    Somewhere in America is a prosecutor willing to bring charges against Bush, Cheney, and each and every one of their goons.  Simultaneously, we must IMMEDIATELY reverse the policies of the last thirty or so years.  Right-wing governance, a repeat of the Clinton era, must not be repeated.

    We have a lot of work to do, and VERY little time to do it.  I’m open to ideas.  Who here has any?

  4. You can’t compromise with sociopaths — repugs — you always end up getting used.

    If you don’t ever ask for what you truly want, you’ll never get it.

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