Post-Partisan Traumatic Stress Disorder 139


The funny thing about politics (funny sad, not funny ha ha) is that perception equals reality for most people, and our perceived “reality” then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for the country.

We have a crappy, partisan hell where nothing gets done because that is how Americans who care about politics (a pathetically small number given the relative importance of the issues involved and mostly of a certain age given the tone) assume tactical partisan warfare is most effective way to accomplish their side’s specific goals.  Never mind the lack of effectiveness that such tactics have historically delivered.  We have been convinced that politics is a brutal, dirty game played by brutal, dirty people incapable of empathy or compromise or an objective understanding of historical trends.

That’s the way it is.  The way it will always be.  So get over it, naif, pragmatism’s for sissies and losers.  We’re gonna get 1960s on their republican (or democratic) asses!

Yet what happens when our situation is so dire and our position so precarious that status quo partisan politics makes it impossible to create the reality we need in order to actually survive?

Partisan politics ensured Barack Obama and the democratic party would fail to capitalize on his unprecedented victory last year as the first democrat in a generation to get more than fifty percent of the vote and a healthy chunk of republicans and conservative independents from around the country.  The first democratic president since LBJ to have a shot at a true governing majority.  When the democratic Congress decided to pursue the initial rounds of much-needed reforms as fait accompli, requiring no debate or discussion, they tied the president’s hands with regards to that continued outreach to grassroots conservatives as a means of crafting a governing majority.

That Obama tied his own hands first by setting unrealistic deadlines and forcing predictable (and avoidable) responses from opponents is perhaps my biggest complaint with our new president.

Which leads us back to the current debate on health care reform and why the democratic party is finding it hard to develop solutions to garner votes from republicans, given the wide-spread support for substantive reform at the grassroots of both parties.  The so-called Blue Dogs get a lot of grief from the left wing of their party, but I would submit that the legislation emerging from Congress right now represents a huge win, even with no republican support.  I think the final bill may get more republican votes than seems apparent today.  They still have their own constituents to make happy and many will demand an explanation once the final legislation is going to the floor and seems reasonable and logical.

There is a reason why our most important and evolutionary changes garnered more than 70% approval in both houses of Congress once all was said and done.

Partisan politics keeps us from making that essential connection today and has become the sole province of the most fervent followers of both parties, leaving the 80% silent majority of both parties who won’t bother to vote in next year’s midterm primaries to wonder why this country keeps falling farther and faster than ever before.  It will leave the 70% silent majority of both parties who won’t vote in a primary election during a presidential year to wonder why it is always the choice between the lesser of two evils when they decide to show up in November.

Fixing this problem will be the work of a generation and not a single man, no matter how charismatic or misunderstood.

Where the political junkies of the world can make a difference is by learning to communicate more effectively here at TPM in an effort to develop the right voice for having similar discussions in the real world.  I would see political moderates around here become pebbles of change dropped into the pond of the common narrative happening over the backyard fence rather than across well-drawn partisan channels on the Internet.  Those moderates who are part of the 20% who will vote in next year’s primaries need to commit to dragging at least one person (or two or three) to their local polling place along with them.

Sustainable change in this country has always happened from the bottom up, requiring much more than the political fringes to deliver and maintain.

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139 thoughts on “Post-Partisan Traumatic Stress Disorder

    • oceankat

      Check out FDR. The republican rich tried to foment a military coup to get rid of him. They might have been successful if Major General Smedley Darlington Butler had gone along instead of turning the conspirators in. Its a rather interesting and little known story in recent American history.

      Jason has a simplistic reading of history, in that since the final bill received bipartisan votes it was the result of bipartisan compromise. Nothing could be farther than the truth. Social Security was fought tooth and claw by the republicans and was not a bipartisan bill. When it was clear they could not win they signed onto the partisan bill. This is pretty much the story of every major change in policy whether from the left or the right.

      • Jason Everett Miller

        The democratic party during the New Deal was in a 70% plus position, many of whom were republicans just a few short years before the depression hit. You compare apples and orangutans once again.

        • oceankat

          When Social Security was passed there were 69 democratic senators. When the Civil Rights act of 63 was passed there were 67 democratic senators. While the house in 37 was much more democratic than the house in 64 it was still very lopsided in democratic control.

          The conservative agenda from Reagan to Bush was often pushed through with reconciliation, from Reagan’s large cuts in welfare and food stamps to Bush’s tax cut bills. They were not the result of a bipartisan process leading to a bipartisan bill but a partisan process leading to a partisan bill that some democrats signed on to when it was clear they couldn’t defeat it.

          Looking at the end votes of a long process is a simplistic measure to use to determine whether a bill is bipartisan. Using that to support your argument that important and evolutionary change was bipartisan is nonsense. Real change in policy was the result of a partisan group pushing through legislation not with but over the objections of other side.

          I suppose you think saying my arguments “compare apples and orangutans” is clever, witty and totally devastating but I see it as more of the typical insulting bullshit you use when you’re unable to defend your views with rational dialog, which is pretty much most of the time.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            The democrats under Tip O’Neil were in charge during Reagan’s time and Bull Clinton signed everything the Gingrich Congress sent across the pike, so I am uncertain what your point is.

          • oceankat

            What’s your point? If Clinton signed a bill its proof that the bill is bipartisan? That’s as simplistic as claiming a bill is bipartisan if some of both party vote for its final form. Its the process that determines whether the final bill is bipartisan.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            My point is the democratic party has been voting for shit legislation that is corporate-centric for decades and you blame all our current woes on republicans. You are a partisan, pure and simple, with a decided lack of objectivity or tact or grace.

          • brantlamb

            You’d have a point if specific bills were only for a specific, single purpose, but they are not. So parts of bills get passed that no one would want, in order for other parts to get passed. You’re oversimplifying again.

          • oceankat

            And 67 of 100 members is 67% so I’m uncertain what your point is. Is 67% and 70% so different or is 67% apples and 70% orangutans? Or was that just a way for you make an insulting, I mean witty and clever, comeback line?

          • oceankat

            Asshole. I’m the one who googled it in the first place and posted that there were 69 democrats. Whether you go by numbers or percentages I don’t see how a few % difference is relevant. Fuck you and I’m done with this thread. I’ve had enough of your typical insulting bullshit.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Typical. You have no argument, so you tell me “Fuck you!” and storm out of the room. Good luck with that tactic and trying to accomplish something substantive as the majority party.

          • oceankat

            Typical. You have no argument, so you tell me “You should really learn to Google.”

            You have no ability to engage in rational dialog. You start fights and insult people and then whine when you get insulted back. How did you expect me to respond, with a thank you for the suggestion? Guess again you nasty little bastard. Insult me and you get insulted back.

            Then you try to say its because people hate your politics when its apparent that people just don’t like you, your personality, and the insults you toss at people.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Why not claim ownership of the dislike you have for me (or perhaps just republicans in general)?

            Not a single thing you have offered here could be termed rational or reasonable. I called no one an asshole or told them to fuck off, yet you can honestly say that is what I have offered here?

            I would point out the hypocrisy of your latest pose of innocence, but it would clearly be lost on you.

        • brantlamb

          That means that they SWITCHED PARTIES, didn’t they? That doesn’t match your bi-partisan narrative very well, does it? You would have a point if the Republicans were willing to do anything constructive, BUT THEY’RE NOT.

          The constant mantra of lower taxes, less regulation and more church in the state, and more oppressive military power is all that they will say, or in which they will have any involvement, even though those policies have been shown to be an epic fail. What do you do with a party that’s become no more than an anchor tied around your ankle, besides start cutting it loose?

          • Jason Everett Miller

            You just listed all the things the democratic party has stood for as well these last few decades, so welcome to the big show.

            You have now become that which you hate. We have no real representation from either party, yet you continue to make this about democrat versus republican.

            As for the democratic party in 1936. Yes, they had picked up a few conversions given the nature of the country at the time, but two decades later we were back to status quo.

            Lasting progress comes via real compromise not capitulation or obfuscation.

          • brantlamb

            You are so full of shit. The democratic party, when it stands up for its ideals, isn’t for suicidal de-regulation, or an oppressive military, or lowering taxes in a way that busts the budget. Now, do they always, each and every one of them serve their ideals? No, AND NEITHER DOES ANY OTHER POLITICALLY POWERED GROUP, ANYWHERE. HOWEVER, the Republicans have carried these things as their mantras to DESTRUCTIVE DEGREES and seem to have no impulse to regulate them in any sane way.

            “Drown government in a bathtub”? How batshit crazy is THAT?

          • Jason Everett Miller

            More insults and invective. Brilliant debating style you have going there. As to the democratic party standing up for its ideals, one would have to go back the 1960s to see an example of that in practice.

          • SleepinJeezus

            Ok, let’s see if we’ve got it all straight THIS time!

            The problem with the DEMs, as jem sees it, is that they are hyper-partisan ideologues who refuse to stand up for their ideals.

            Ummm….. Good luck with that?

          • Jason Everett Miller

            I said that you are a hyper-partisan throwback to the 60s who will never change tactics, not the democratic party.

            The democratic party is actually being damaged by people such as yourself as you squeeze the last bit of civility from the political process.

            With friends like you on the liberal left, the democratic party hardly needs enemies on the right.

          • kenga

            Hi Jason,
            I think you are talking about “triangulation”, albeit not deliberately.
            As I recall, that is what Clinton did in trying to achieve a level of date rape – I mean bipartisanship, during the latter part of his first term and the entirety of his second term.
            That’s how we got the deregulation and tone you seem to deplore.
            In the interest of getting things done, a lot of foolish things got done as well, in order to bring Republican support and cooperation into various legislative equations.
            You’ll probably note how that turned out, both for Clinton, the Democratic Party, and the nation.
            Democrats have been reactive for the last 30 years – both in the White House and Congress. This tone that you warn us against is simply a reflection of decades of increasing Republican vituperation. It is a result of finally paying attention to the bromide: fool me thirty times, eventually I’m not going to give you another chance and will simply respond in kind.

            But really, at the core, I think you’re missing the point.
            Sometimes, you can be civil and support civility, but in so doing, you must smother decency in its bed. This is one of those times.
            Pick a side.
            Civil, or decent.

            For me, I’d rather have the blue-collar stevedore Harley rider who spends most of his free time arranging charity rides as a neighbor, than the Deacon who molests children.

          • Ickyma

            I thinik your off base… Just my opinion.

            Little things, like the Softball Games that were played by lawmakers of both parties for years and years… Suddenly, under a republican dominated congress (and WH) were no longer “Bi-Partisan” games. The Dems weren’t invited nor welcome.

            A little nothing of a story in any other context… but when you say

            The democratic party is actually being damaged by people such as yourself as you squeeze the last bit of civility from the political process

            I’d say the Dems didn’t squeeze out the last drop civility… I’d say the Repubs did have done more to that end by far.

            There have been countless stories of the vitriol and downright nastiness in DC for the last 2 decades – culminating with the Repugs of the last decade – where members of opposite parties wouldn’t even talk to each other. Repeat: Culminating in the last decade. By all accounts the ugliest in a LONG LONG time.

          • Ripper McCord

            Jason, with all due respect, you have become a one-hit wonder constantly re-releasing the same Side B single on the Reprise label.

            My problem with your argument is that you dispose of all objective (or even subjective) standards that might be used to measure the Democratic Party’s partisanship vs the Republican Party’s partisanship. While no one here (to my knowledge) views partisanship as healthy or has resorted to defending the liberal record by claiming “But the GOP hit me first,” it’s clear that substantial differences in tactics, motives and ethics distinguish the partisanship of Republicans from that of Democrats.

            To ignore these differences is intellectually dishonest and now amounts to hyperventilating without the justification of averting any imminent harm. That is nearly the definition of Republican behavior this past summer regarding health care reform. Please look in the mirror and ask yourself: “Am I really working for bipartisanship by routinely criticizing liberals?”

            Remember, Jason, you said last year that you had joined the GOP to change IT from within. How is working so hard on liberals changing the GOP?

            My advice: Write a completely new song, more in the style of Lennon-McCartney than Richard Wagner.

          • brewmn61

            Jason will never respond to this comment, because it accurately and articulately destroys the underlying premise of EVERYTHING he writes.

            On the other hand, even when I’m baiting him purely for my own amusement, I get two or three responses every time. This desire of his to descend into vitriolic back-and-forth, all the while calling “foul” on the other side, suggests a masochistic pathology in his personality. I mean, if you haven’t convinced a soul after, what, maybe a dozen posts outlining the exact same argument, either you’re wrong or the audience you’re trying to persuade simply isn’t listening.

            Anyone who truly values honesty and fair dealing in politics, and has been awake for the last thirty years, knows that the problems of civility and hyper-partisianship are almost exclusively the fault of the hard-core Republican right that achieved national prominence with Reagan’s election in 1980.

            As another commenter noted above, Democrats have been largely in reaction mode ever since. Even Obama, with the Republican’s failure at governance obvious to even many of the most uninformed Americans and a historic (by recent standards) Democratic majority, is still trying to implement a “Third Way” politics that tries to elide the philosophical differences betwen the parties rather than highlight them.

            The Republicans made a conscious decision to succeed electorally by wholesale abandonment of reasonable government regualtion, resposnsible budget stewardship, and by naked appeals to racism and intolerance. Democrats have been fighting on this turf ever since.

            I’m happy to bash Democrats for their solicitousness of corporate interests and general ineffectiveness, and have done so with gusto in the past. But until the poisonous brand of modern Republicanism has been annihilated as a political force in American politics, the Democrats are really just a symptom of deeper underlying problems. And Jason Miller’s exhortations to the left to drop their partisanship is ridiculous in its misdiagnosis of what ails the American body politic.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Ripper, you missed the point of the blog if you see this as a condemnation of the democratic party or liberals. I think the democratic party missed a huge opportunity to take us in a new direction, both at the grassroots and in Washington, but that was hardly their fault alone.

            As to people here using “The GOP did it first!” as an excuse for being an asshole, well, there are multiple comments on this thread that is exactly that, so I am not entirely sure where you are going with that critique. Every blog I write, no matter what the topic, brings out such trolls in droves.

            See the first comment to your remark as a perfect example. Pointing out the problems with the other side is all well and good, but ya’ll seem oddly reluctant to police your own ranks.

          • Ickyma

            “Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. What did Conservatives do? They opposed them on every one of those things…every one! So when you try to hurl that label at my feet, ‘Liberal,’ as if it were something to be ashamed of, something dirty, something to run away from, it won’t work, Senator, because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor.” — Matt Santos, The West Wing

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Nice historical revisionism courtesy of Aaron Sorkin.

            Most of the achievements Santos mentioned were championed by conservatives and liberals alike at the grassroots and met with opposition from both sides of the political divide as well.

            You want every bad thing in America to be the fault of conservatives and every good thing to be the handiwork of liberals, and neither is exactly accurate.

          • brewmn61

            “Most of the achievements Santos mentioned were championed by conservatives and liberals alike at the grassroots and met with opposition from both sides of the political divide as well.”

            I’ll need to see some support from this other than your repeated assertions. Because this certainly sounds like the rankest bullshit to me.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Follow the link to the vote for the Civil Rights Act as that is a fairly recent event and shows that progress isn’t necessarily a conservative or liberal value, but an American one.

          • SleepinJeezus

            Yeah, and look to the overwhelmingly bi-partisan vote on the Iraq War Resolution. I suppose that shows being led by lies and extortion into a war of choice is an American value as well? THAT’S the kind of political unity you seek?

            Most of the the Dems who voted for the War resolution were righteously opposed, but they were dragged kicking and screaming to make this vote out of concern for politics over principles. (NOTE: I find it disgusting to sacrifice soldiers lives’ for purpose of enhancing reelection opportunities, to be sure, but it is nevertheless true of our esteemed Democrats who refused to stand on – dare I say partisan? – principle.)

            Just like the GOP was dragged kicking and screaming to accept the Civil Rights Act. It most certainly would not have been undertaken at their initiative, nor would it have sprung magically from some kind of kumbaya moment occurrence during a centrist mind-meld.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            More democrats voted against the Civil Rights Act than republicans. Bush’s last stimulus before leaving office? Passed over the objections of republicans and pushed through by the democratic leadership.

            The Iraq War vote and Patriot Act vote were bi-partisan showings that left the democratic party with zero room to claim some sort of righteous indignation about anything moving forward.

            You continue to lash out with lots of fury but very few facts.

          • SleepinJeezus

            Ah, but the Patriot Act (choke!) and the War Act WERE bi-partisan successes, were they not? At long last, didn’t the Democrats step across the aisle and give the GOP what they wanted? Isn’t THAT your measure of success?

            The Dems have in fact done this kind of laying down and surrendering at the first shot across their bow for far too long. It’s really a joke to hear your revisionist bs that tells about just how obstreperous the left has been, when we have 4,000 dead soldiers in Iraq who so painfully make the case otherwise.

            Fuck your go along to get along bullshit. I still wish the Dems woulda’ stood on principle and kicked Bush/Cheney’s ass over their lies and their fraudulent rush to war. And right about now, I know there are a lot of Gold Star Mothers and Iraqi families who feel the very same way.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            There it is. The potty mouth, You are incapable rational and logical discussion, much less intellectual inquiry and objective analysis. I guess it is true. You can’t teach old dogs new tricks.

          • brewmn61

            The fact that congress voted for the CRA is an inmperfect measure of popular support, and hardly proof for your assertion. And, in any event, the backlash against Johnson and equal access and rights for African-Americans was felt electorally at the public’s very next opportunity, in the 1966 elections. In an excerpt from a book by Thomas Edsall I encountered earlier, he basically maintained that white support for the CRA died the minute action had to be taken to enforce it.

            And Reagan subsequently ran to landslide victories on that backlash – do you not remember the “welfare queens” in Cadillics in 1980, a lie that has driven most of our social legislation since?

            And do you think that it is just a coincidence that blacks support the Democratic Party by more than 90%, if support for civil rights is truly neither a “conservative or liberal value?”

            The Republican Party is the party of laissez faire, intolerance, “off the shelf” foreign policy, and the politics of division and personal destruction. Until they are completely marginalized, we will have the type of politics (unresponsive to the public, bitter, and inane) you claim to deplore. Why is this so difficult for you to acknowledge?

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Yet, historically, the republican party was the home of African Americans since they freed them from the tyranny of the democrats. You only quote those bits of history that support your preformed conclusions.

          • brewmn61

            “You only quote those bits of history that support your preformed conclusions.”

            You’re the idiot that can’t seem to grasp the Republicans of 1854 are the Democrats of 2008, and that the point of most of the opposition to your “thesis” is that those reponsible for the chief problems we face (i.e., Iraq, crippling debt/deficit, failure to fund public services, climate change) were and are Reaganite Republicans. It’s ridiculous to keep expanding the reference frame simply in order to render contemporary political differences meaningless.

            If Andrew Jackson were running for office today, he’d run as a Republican. And if I were voting in 1856, I’d vote Republican as well. So fucking what?

          • Jason Everett Miller

            You’re the idiot that can’t seem to discuss anything without being an asshole, so I am done responding to you.

          • brewmn61

            If only.

            Look, I’ll make you a deal: You stop trying to make TPM your own personal website, and I’ll stop pointing out what a compost heap of logical incoherence your political philosophy is, and what a petulant jerk you are as a person.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Why not just not comment? Just walk on by. You and your little band of merry idiots are the only ones who can’t seem to comprehend what I write.

          • brewmn61

            I comprehend what you write. I just think you don’t have a clue, yet you keep posting the same bullshit over and over and over. And over. And over.

          • rmrd0000

            Jason I can tell you that most African-Americans who hear that justification for respecting the GOP find it offensive. We are not newly freedmen, we are in 2009. In 2009, the GOP is the party of Barry Goldwater’s State’s Rights, Rush Limbaugh, Teabaggers, Birthers, etc.

            I have much more respect for former Klan Kleagle, Sen Robert Byrd, who reformed his life than I do for anyone in the GOP leadership.

            The GOP tries to claim Jackie Robinson as a member despite Robinson detailing his anger at the Goldwater GOP he saw at the GOP convention in 1984. Robinson campaigned for Hubert Humphrey in 1988.

            Likewise the GOP claims MLK Jr as a member despite MLK Jr stating that while Goldwater may not be a racist himself, Goldwater was willing to work in tandem with racists to get elected. MLK Jr advised against voting for Goldwater.
            The Civil Rights supporting GOP of yore is dead.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Most of the racists from that era were democrats and republicans alike.

            Glad to see that African Americans are willing to give the democratic party a pass for the omnibus crime bill in 1994, which pretty guaranteed the decimation of the inner cities and a whole generation of young black men going to jail. They also get a pass for Vietnam, right, though it sent an earlier generation to their graves in massive numbers.

            Again, you choose those bits of history that support your already held beliefs.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Yes, that is exactly what that comment spoke to, what is best for black people. You don’t read a single word I write, so I will stop now.

  • dickday

    Snow and maybe Collins. A few in the House.

    THE REPUBS CALLED ME AND MY KIND TRAITORS FOR EIGHT GODDAMN YEARS. AND THEY, ALL OF THEM WERE TRAITORS, NOT ME.

    Give me the names of some reasonable voices Jason.

    I rec’d for the title though. hahahahaahh

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Reasonable voices will take years to develop, but you can’t afford to wait years to listen to what is being said.

      I hope to do my best to help translate, though.

      Cheers!

      • brantlamb

        Jason, whether you are aware of it or not, you sound extremely condescending.

        Maybe you just don’t get it, but right now the majority of the people of the United States don’t want pretty much any of what the Republican party is selling.

        “Less taxes” sounds great until you’ve removed the basic revenues for the way you’re spending (as the Republicans did under Bush).

        And “the war on terror” sounds acceptable (though not great) until it’s been found out that your side went through and faked up the case for the war against a country that never attacked us, then the case goes to shit in a handbag.

        And “less regulation” has a pleasing dog whistle effect, until you realize that they mean “less regulation” to the point that factions of the population get to pillage the rest of us like pirates and crash the economy.

        If you go back 50 or more years, you might find that the Republican party stood for ideas that deserve some practical consideration, but otherwise they’re just full of shit. Now, when they want to actually FUND some of their “pragmatic” ideas instead of scrooging every damn thing except the military and their porkbarrel for their cronies, you might have a point. But their health care reform ideas are a sack of shit. Steaming, actually. And they have tried to be as glacially slow in approving Obama’s cabinet as they possibly can be.

        I’m sorry, in the “spirit of bi-partisanship” most of the Republican leadership can’t even bring themselves to admit that Barack Obama was duly elected. When they want to start acting like adults then they should be treated like adults. Respect is earned, not taken, and especially not taken by people that are acting like whiny-ass babies.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          As usual, you completely missed the point of my blog in your rush to blame every ill in this country on the republican party, while completely absolving the democrats for the role they played.

          Then you call me condescending in a comment fairly dripping with the partisan mother’s milk of scorn as well as complete caricature of my opinions.

          You are an example of the very thing that is killing this country and will continue to kill it until we figure out a way to mitigate your kind and encourage the silent majority to finally step up and participate in their country.

          Otherwise, you and your companions on the far right will continue to play this partisan death match that has no winners, though all of us lose.

          • brantlamb

            What crap. The Republicans are currently doing everything they can to dip the government in molasses, and so slow down everything that this legitimately-elected government needs to do. And this to the point of stopping cabinet appointments.

            And this is while this country is in the grip of the greatest financial crisis in more than a half-century, brought about by the economic policies of the Republicans. What does the party of “no” (and not just “no”, but “Hell, no!”) have to offer, that needs to be incorporated into anything practical? “Tax cuts” isn’t it. Sorry, the current government hasn’t got time to indulge this non-sensical shit.

            Obama and the Democratic congress have asked these clowns to play, and they sit and bitch and offer nothing. It only takes one person in a conversation to drive the tone into the toilet, and the Republicans have proved that, repeatedly. Barak Obama, a socialist, a communist, etc.? They have willingly not only been mud-slinging, the’ve layed down in the mud so that they can sling it with their feet, as well.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            You are still confusing the idiots in Congress with the grassroots. The audience isn’t the fringes in either party or their lackeys in the press. It is the silent majority who rarely bothers to vote at all, but still determine the direction of our common narrative.

          • matyra

            Ok, I’m just going to focus on one point, the economy. Bush&Co were an economic nightmare, whose policies exasperated what may have been a run-of-the-mill recession. They avoided looking at markets in detail to see where problems/bubble existed. They didn’t see the change in the world economy and account for it. They didn’t see the obvious change in energy policy that the nation would have to take in the future. They didn’t plan for the future what-so-ever. During their heyday, they acted like the gang of “now” and not a party that planned for the future. In other words, they didn’t act like either liberals or conservatives–they acted like Neocon clusterfucks who somehow ended up in power.

            I hope that we are growing up now. But I look at the economy now and worry. I look at the total national debt, the trend of the deficit, the dollar’s perception oversees–and I see great problems that are going to take both conservatives and liberals working together to clean up or we risk not just our place in the world hierarchy, but in our children’s standard of living and ability to live well.

            Yes, the deficit spending now should improve the economy short-term. But it’s time to start looking further than next year. Our national strategy has got to change, imo.

          • Dorn76

            That’s way over the top to say he’s an example of what’s “killing the country”. Rhetoric like that ain’t helping either.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            This clown trolls every single one of my blogs and I am supposed to be civil? What would you say such behavior is doing to the country? Achieving all our very important goals or widening our divisions further? I continue to submit it is the latter.

  • bluebell

    Well, actually I have become “post-partisan” myself since the Democratic Party has moved too far to the right for me to remain a member. But I don’t plan to join Jason’s uni-party however many he drags to the polls to all vote exactly the same – too Putinistic for this leftie.

      • bluebell

        I fear all they do when they get together is allocate lobbies. You get banks and I get health insurance and he gets pharma and she gets military contractors…

        • Jason Everett Miller

          It will take double or triple our current primary turnout to establish a trend of progressive changes for this country. We suffer from a severe case of incumbents disease.

          • Ickyma

            I like to dig this up and re-read it from time to time…

            “The America of my time line is a laboratory example of what can happen to democracies, what has eventually happened to all perfect democracies throughout all histories. A perfect democracy, a ‘warm body’ democracy in which every adult may vote and all votes count equally, has no internal feedback for self-correction. It depends solely on the wisdom and self-restraint of citizens… which is opposed by the folly and lack of self-restraint of other citizens. What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes his own self-interest as he sees it… which for the majority translates as ‘Bread and Circuses.’

            ‘Bread and Circuses’ is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader—the barbarians enter Rome.”

            — Robert A. Heinlein (To Sail Beyond the Sunset)

        • SleepinJeezus

          bluebell, you are absolutely correct here. The problem I see with jason’s critique of the system is that he begins with a basic assumption that our political system is a functioning entity that is simply set upon by mischief-makers who abuse it. If we could just get everyone to play nice, we would achieve the glorious promise of democracy in gentleman debates and discussions within the Halls of Congress that would make Daniel Webster proud, right?

          Well maybe not. The reality is that the system itself is so thoroughly corrupt that it is fundamentally incapable of serving as a tool of our democracy. We the People no longer own our government. The implications of that stretch far beyond anything considered by jem as “the problem” with bi-partisan politics.

  • SleepinJeezus

    Non-partisan politics?

    Sounds about as plausible a concept as “impact free reform.”

    You constantly bemoan the awful nastiness of politics wherein opposing thoughts/ideas compete vigorously for acceptance in the marketplace of ideas. Yet, what is your alternative, really? Some kind of mind-meld, where we can all gather over brie cheese and wine and have the answers to our problems spring forth in uni-partisan fashion? Or, as I suspect, is it just that we should all accept jason’s “centrist” views as the correct political alignment on all issues?

    Yeah, jason. You’ve been hard at work for months now designing this “new age” politics wherein no noses get bloodied and everyone looks and sounds like Annette Funicello in pursuit of the perfect milkshake, by golly!

    It’s a wonder, however, that you have yet to understand that taking the “fight” out of political discussions is about as plausible and productive as taking the ball out of baseball or the lemon out of lemonade.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Partisan politics has damaged the country for the last forty years in a way that makes our final progressive transformation impossible.

      I clearly commented on the partisan need to vilify their opponents to the point of caricature as being the main detriment to our political process as apposed to the idea that friendly rivalry is an ineffective means to evolutionary ends.

      I would see liberal ideals married with conservative pragmatism in a way that has us all working toward a common end.

      • oleeb

        No it hasn’t. That is an absurd statement and completely untrue. Your fantasy of what has been going on in America for the past 40 years is amazingly inaccurate.

        Partisan authoritarian Republican politics has damaged our country the past 40 years. Democratic partisanship has been virtually nonexistent.

        Your grasp of political history is as poor as ever.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          You need some new books. Ones that aren’t on the Nation’s preferred reading list. Your grasp on everything remains as tenuous as ever.

  • NobleCommentDecider

    When are you going to apologize for voting for George W. Bush JEM?

    Confession and repentance can help with a political stress disorder.

  • rmrd0000

    Reasonable voices in the Republican party will take years to develop.

    What exactly should Democrats be saying to the voting public to prevent the voters from voting for unreasonable Republicans?

    If Republicans are unreasonable, why are voters putting them into office?

  • SleepinJeezus

    I’m not sure, jollyroger, but according to jason I think the correct thing for Dems to say to the voting public is:

    “In the interest of bi-partisanship, we ask you to join the Republican Party and get all those silent, apolitical Republicans to become good Democrats, because that is where they would be right now except for the fact that the Democrats are too ideologically left-wing for their liking. Oh!… And pack a lunch!”

  • rmrd0000

    I asked “What should Democrats say to voters?”
    JEM’s response was………The democratic party, as the majority party, is responsible for setting the tone in Washington. If it remains partisan in nature, the result will be a less reasonable republican party by once again forcing moderates to tune out.

    Note that there was no answer to the question, just an unsupported statement. Let me try again. Given that Baucus twisted into a pretzel to get one Republican vote, what steps to Democrats have to take to prove that Democrats are bi-partisan.

    Please give actual steps that need to be taken. What concessions do Democrats have to make to to an unreasonable Republican leadership to be considered bi-partisan in your eyes?

    • Jason Everett Miller

      It isn’t about making concessions to become bipartisan.

      It is about leading by example and not treating republicans as if they were the enemy. It is about changing the dialogue at the grassroots by offering innovative solutions rather than partisan warfare.

      The democratic party is in charge for now and rather than use that leverage to produce legislation that was truly revolutionary, they blew the dust off of all the stuff they couldn’t get done these last few decades instead.

      Obama was the perfect example for the democratic party to follow with regards to closing our partisan divide and very few on the left actually took his lead at the grassroots or even in Washington.

      Getting votes from obstructionist republicans isn’t the point of this blog.

      • rmrd0000

        Once again, you are giving statements, not pointing to actions. What specific legislative action should Democrats have taken? What bills should have been proposed by the Democrats?

        • Jason Everett Miller

          My comments have nothing to do with specific legislation, though I think a number of efforts could have been approached differently over the last nine months and have written a number of blogs about if you are curious.

          • rmrd0000

            Jason, Congress effects changes by proposing and passing legislation. Legislation is signed into law by the President.

            There is cognitive dissonance on your part

            ……The democratic party is in charge for now and rather than use that leverage to produce legislation that was truly revolutionary, they blew the dust off of all the stuff they couldn’t get done these last few decades instead.

            ……My comments have nothing to do with specific legislation, though I think a number of efforts could have been approached differently over the last nine months and have written a number of blogs about if you are curious.

            You criticize Democrats for not producing legislation, then state that you are not talking about legislation.

            What are you talking about?

          • Jason Everett Miller

            I was commenting on a lack of innovation at designing legislative solutions that speak to both halves of the national psyche, liberal and conservative. It is a red herring to get into the weeds on specific bills.

          • SleepinJeezus

            My comments have nothing to do with specific legislation,

            ….

            The democratic party is in charge for now and rather than use that leverage to produce legislation that was truly revolutionary, they blew the dust off of all the stuff they couldn’t get done these last few decades instead.

            Yup! And now rmrd0000 is becoming just the latest participant here who is beginning to figure out your schtick, jason. A whole lotta’ vacuous prose and meaningless platitudes and high-falootin, rootin’ tootin’ insults from ol’ blusterbutt instead of anything like a direct response to legitimate questions.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            That was a quote from a comment I made in response to another question and had zero to do with the blog.

            As usual, you dismiss the context in your haste to make some obscure, yet somehow still insulting, point. This blog was written in direct response to you and people like you in both parties.

            Bravo, WeepingJeezus!

          • SleepinJeezus

            Interesting to note that in fact it is two consecutive comments within the same thread, and that rmrd and I independently chose to call you out on the gross contradiction here. Pretty good indication that there’s a whole lotta’ bs’ing going on from you once again, but I have really come to expect little else from ol’ blunderbutt.

            Keep up the good work, sport! (RATED: Highly Entertaining!)

          • Jason Everett Miller

            No, you are providing red herrings as a way of diverting the original topic of the blog, which is a continuing lack of reasonable and rational people engaged in political dialogue, both in Washington and here at TPM.

            This blog is not about the democratic party or the republican party, yet both of you came in here to once again cram my ideas into your narrow framework. The usual term for such behavior is trolling, but you are not nearly self-aware enough to make the connection.

          • SleepinJeezus

            You’re actually kinda’ cute when you stumble around trying to pull your head outta’ yer ass in a failed hope that no one is noticing.

            (RATED: Highly Entertaining!)

          • rmrd0000

            He is verbose, but there is no actual content. The reason that JEM won’t be able to muster the silent majority of moderate Republicans and Independent voters, is that when pressed, he can not offer concrete steps to go from point A to point B.

            The “weeds” of specific bills are what gets people motivated. Do you believe in a single-payer system? Should insurance companies be able to raise rates without governmental oversight? Those weeds are what voters want cleared out.

            A person who can’t get out the weed whacker is going to be lost in the thicket.

          • SleepinJeezus

            I suspect that when jason is whacking anything, it ain’t weeds. He’s WAY too much self-involved for THAT!

            Keep smiling and enjoy the show. He IS entertaining, in a torturous kinda’ way.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Discussing specific legislation will lead to greater turnout in the primaries? Forgive me if I find that idea is not in keeping with the historical record.

            I have offered multiple blogs over the last year or so on how I think the democratic party could have inspired grassroots movements by way of convincing people they are right rather than insisting upon it.

            I am sure the president is very happy to have liberals such as you on his side, pissing off every last persuadable voter in the country and forcing us back into the partisan stalemate that has been killing us for quite some time.

            Now, you can return to your normal tactics of distraction and belittlement instead of honest and reasoned engagement.

          • rmrd0000

            Jason, I’m not pissing off people who don’t follow the republican orthodoxy. Outside of the die-hard Republicans, most people ask why the Republicans are obstructionist.

            People also ask why the Democrats just don’t run over the Republicans on issues like health care. You must be interacting with a wingnut leaning population.

            You avoid the core issue. If you are organizing moderate Republicans and Independents, what is the goal of the coalition? Cutting the deficit? Taxing the rich? deporting illegal aliens? The point is your proposed coalition ha no point.

            People vote on issues. They vote for or against taxes. Voters address issues such as abortion, health care, etc with their votes. They do not vote for better dialog across the aisle.

            Running on the let’s have a civil debate ticket means that you have some issues that you are ready to debate. You have none. The fact that you cannot address issues is not my problem, it is yours.

            Your arguments are circular. You start out lamenting the lack of “revolutionary” legislation from the Democrats. This is followed by a statement that you are not talking about “specific” legislation. You then say you are talking about a lack of “innovative” legislation.

            At no point do you feel the need to define “revolutionary” or “innovative”. Unless you state exactly what legislation you are thinking, your statements are the political equivalent of vaporware. Vaporware does not exist JEM. Define your innovative revolutionary legislation.

            Please provide some idea of what issues your coalition would be attacking. Politicians and political parties have a platform. What is your platform?

            Republicans believe in cutting taxes and letting the free market determine the outcome. Democrats believe that government can be used to aid the individual and that business needs government oversight.

            What do you believe?

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Read my blogs in an effort to actually understand my positions and I will be happy to answer any questions you may still to have.

            Until then, all you continue to provide are non sequiters to the blog’s main topic, which was that continued partisan warfare on behalf of fringe political beliefs is damaging to the country.

          • rmrd0000

            Listen, I was able to provide you with a brief synopsis of what I thought Democrats and Republicans believe. You are not capable of providing a synopsis of what you believe and what your coalition’s goals would be.

            You are the one trying to sell a concept. It is not my fault that you are too lazy to give a brief synopsis of your positions on your own post.

            As a political operative, you fail. That is not being divisive. That is stating fact. If you took time to read the entire post, you would have noted that I criticized Democrats for not standing up for single payer and not taking down the derivative fraud masters on Wall street. Again you were too lazy to do that.

            Keep portraying those who simply cannot see any benefit to what you are proposing as divisive. The criticism of your idea does not mean that I believe the Democrats are without fault. The criticism means that I don’t believe your idea is valid.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            You didn’t comment on my blog, only your misinterpretation of my blog.

            You then offered a red herring to further derail the conversation. Finishing with insults and caricature when I choose not to play your games.

            This is hardly a new one tactic and remains pathetically transparent.

  • Lalo35adm

    Jason: good blog!

    There are couple of assumptions in it and in the comments:
    – partisanship is bad for the country
    – Republicans are responsible (“reasonable voices” etc)

    I happen to disagree with both of these.

    Partisanship in politics is a process of negotiation and bargaining between competing interests of American citizens. We can’t all have exactly the same interests and I wouldn’t want to live in a country that didn’t have enough diversity that inevitably leads to them.

    Because partisanship is a process, it has been an unavoidable part of our political landscape since the parties first began forming. There wasn’t a time in American history, except for the first few years, when partisanship didn’t exist.

    I also think that the notion that we should stop partisan politics is highly misguided because the nature and role of partisanship is simply misunderstood.

    In a way, this notion is just an expression of frustration that other efforts to overcome the opposition didn’t succeed. When two people argue and neither wins on the merits, how often do we hear the frustrated “You always argue with me!”.

    And clearly it’s a complete delusion to blame partisanship on any one party.

    There is a lot to be said in favor of civility, but I’d rather have uncivil politics than Mao as American president, Stalin’s portraits in people’s houses, and one size fits al “solutions” to our problems.

    And for the same reason, I have no problem with the politicians exploiting the meme of “bitter partisanship” simply to discredit the motives of the opposition. It’s not pleasant but that’s the price I’m more than prepared to pay for living in a democracy.

    Manners, when you think about it, is a form of enforcing conformity to a certain pattern or standard. European parents train their children to change behavior in response to just a look of disapproval on a parent’s face.

    I’ve observed political process in a couple of other countries. And despite it’s decibels, complications and problems, I would take American system over any other in the world. Anyday.

    • Lalo35adm

      Just to clarify my last point: partisanship in American politics forces us to react, process and take sides.

      I have not seen the numbers, intensity, activism, passion and involvement of ordinary people participating in the political process to the degree that we have here anywhere else that I’ve looked at.

    • rmrd0000

      I agree, from my point of view Democrats are all too willing to act a punching bags for the GOP. Harry Reid is a case in point. Reid appears to feeble and inept that he is in danger of losing his Senate seat. When you think of Harry Reid, the image of him getting rolled by GOP leadership comes to mind. Voters respect strength.

      • Lalo35adm

        That’s a good point.

        It’s always easier to be militant, vigilant and vocal when you’re in opposition – that very posture creates a contrast with the party in power in order to create doubt in the minds of the voters and you are only responsible for being true to “the principles”.

        Once the opposing party gains power, the game becomes more complex – it has to preserve the voting coalition (i.e. the collection of aligned interests) that got it elected, if it is to avoid being the one-hit wonder.

        In that sense, Reid is in a very tough spot.

        He needs the kind of result that will give a little bit to everyone that backed his party. Otherwise, the coalition falls apart and Democrats lose the majorities. He simply has to stand in the middle, if he wants to continue standing after the mid-terms.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      My main point wasn’t that partisanship is bad, only the way we practice it has been. The shrill voices on both sides of the fence keep most people tuned out.

      When the only voices represented in Washington are status quo, as evidenced by the lack of participation in the primaries by most average Americans, partisanship provides very little benefit to the process.

      I see mostly stalemates and worsening problems on so many fronts I have lost count, which makes it hard for me to find our current political environment as worthwhile to maintain.

  • brantlamb

    Jason, please explain to me WTF Republicans are “pragmatic” about. I haven’t seen it, and from the look of the last 2 elections, the american people haven’t either.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Did I say that the current crop of republicans are pragmatic? I said the new democratic president is pragmatic in a way that could have helped heal this country’s wounds had his party’s left wing not spun out of control.

      • Dorn76

        What do you mean “could have helped heal this country…”? Is it your opinion that after 8 months, it’s all a lost cause now? And why exactly? Because some people on blogs are vociferously liberal?

        Help me out here. That’s just doesn’t make any sense.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          I am saying that America slipped right back into the old partisan warfare patterns that drove most people to turn independent over the last few decades. That nine months into his administration, our country is as divided as ever.

      • sdcnc

        Didn’t you say this effort to more effective partisanship would take many grassroots folks and many years? Then you say the new guy is showing the right example, but because the rest of the country hasn’t turned into dedicated, hopeful, grassroots voting participants after nine months, all is lost. Perhaps we could be granted a few more days to see the light.

  • stillidealistic

    I am relatively new to even caring about politics. It’s a filthy business. Obama got me to hoping that things could be different. That my voice might matter. That if I paid attention and started voting from an informed position instead of based on whether people had a d or an r or an i after their name, we really could salvage our country.

    I am still hopeful that can be true, but the ember of hope is getting dimmer and dimmer.

    It doesn’t seem to me like Jason’s opinions have changed all that much in the past year+. All that has changed is that he now has an r after his name instead of an i. He isn’t an r in the purist sense of the word. He is an r so he can vote in republican primaries, and hopefully have a say in the candidates who go to the big show.

    I think that the majority of our representatives in Congress are cut out of the same cloth, doesn’t matter what letter follows their name. The majority are beholding to the lobbyists, who now own this country lock, stock and barrel. If we ever doubted that, the fact that we have seen ZERO in terms of new regulations on the financial markets, and are headed towards a severely watered down health care plan should prove it.

    On top of that, they are corrupt on so many levels, from the holier than thou that turn out to be morally bankrupt, to the dems who claim sloppy bookkeeping…sloppy bookkeeping???? Is that what we pay them for? Is that what our tax dollars buy us?

    The republicrats, yes…republicrats (a term that says they are all alike and you can’t tell them apart) are selling us down the river. The rich are getting richer, the poor, poorer, and the middle class is disappearing faster than a rabbit in a magic show. Yet the dems, with a solid majority in both houses and the Presidency, cannot do a damn thing. The repubs, who lost resoundingly, still get the final say in what happens or doesn’t happen. How is this even frickin’ possible??? So why do they want to regain power? They accomplish more as the minority party.

    So we slog along…the banks are STILL not modifying mortgages in any great numbers, people are still losing their houses, jobs are still being lost, CEO’s are still getting obscene bonuses, insurance co. are still making obscene profits while they deny coverage to 4 months old for being overweight, schools are sending 6 year olds to reform school for bringing a camping tool to school, politicians continue to make boondoggles all over the world, many people are still trying to grab all they can for themselves without considering their fellow man, let alone what is good for our country, and we wonder why so few people want to participate in the process?

    Um…let me guess.

    • rmrd0000

      I understand your frustration with Democrats especially the Blue Dogs in the Senate and the ineffective Harry Reid. However, I fail to see what JEM brings to the table. Outside of pointing out his frustration, he has no real solution.

      When asked what legislation he wants to see, JEM dodges the question. When asked what steps the Democrats should take to appeal to GOP moderates and Independents, he says he wants Democrats to be more civil, but not to make concessions to the unreasonable GOP leadership. Who has the opinion that the Democrats are the one’s blocking progress on legislation? What has the GOP said but…No? Pointing the truth, that rEpublicans are obstructiot’s appears to be a statement that is divisive and “pisses off” moderates and Independents according to Jason. I disagree.

      At least you address the issue of health care and foreclosures. Baucus was a wasted time appealing to the GOP. Democrats should have had a Finance chairman in place who was more progressive. Some on Wall Street should be charged with fraud for the derivative scandal that did severe damage to the US economy. Single payer should have been the starting point of discussion on health care. The Democrats have been too passive.

      Please tell what of value, you hear Jason saying.

      • stillidealistic

        I think we all know that the repubs are the party of “no” at the moment. I guess we don’t need to keep pointing it out.

        In my husband’s job, they periodically had what they called “come to Jesus” meetings, where they would go through all the issues and make sure everyone was on the same page.

        I don’t think that particular thing would work in government, because there ARE genuine disagreements between rational, thinking people about how best to proceed. BUT, having said that, if we don’t, as a people, start acting in our country’s best interests, we are going to lose her. LOSE HER. That is a frightening thought.

        At this moment, I’m afraid there are people on the fringes (probably both sides, but primarily apparent on the right) who would rather lose it, than “give in” to the other side.

        What I hear Jason saying is that we need to begin the process of nudging the country from center right, to center left. One way to do that is to begin electing repubs who are more moderate, rather than allowing the right wing fringe to take over the party. He is encouraging all of us to encourage our friends, families and neighbors who are not participating in the process to begin participating. I hear him saying that it would be helpful to moderate our language (which, if you followed the dialog I had with my uncle can be a real problem for even me…) These are not “legislative” things, but things that need to happen if we are going to end up center left. I believe (and I believe Jason does as well) that we are more apt to get there by moderating the republican party than we are by becoming a bigger democratic party.

        Getting back to the “come to Jesus” meeting…I don’t know if it would be helpful or not, but I’d like to see Obama give an address to the nation concerning patriotism (although the right wingers think they ARE being patriots!) and our obligations to our country and the personal responsibility we need to take towards helping our country. Things like when you take more than your share, you hurt the country. When you are a bully, you hurt your country. When you participate in unhealthful behaviors, you hurt your country. When you figure out a way to “game” the system, you hurt your country. When you father a child out of wedlock, you hurt your country. He needs to point out some of the ways government has helped recently. He needs to say we only want as much government as we NEED and not one bit more. He needs to reiterate how important it is in this global economy that the U.S. be respected, not hated by the rest of the world. There are thousands of tiny things we can do to improve things that have nothing to do with whether you are a repub or a dem or indy… I know it is kind of an “ask what you can do for your country” type of speech, but I think we need it. It may not do a thing to change the hearts or minds of the die hard repubs, but it may allay some of the fears of the middle.

        • rmrd0000

          Most commenters are moderating themselves. Name the people on the left with frequent media access who you feel are spoiling the dialog.

        • rmrd0000

          Let me say that I ask about those with media access, because I believe that most of us avoid conversation about politics, race, and religion with those we either disagree with or if don’t know their personal feelings about the aforementioned issues. The frequency of political yelling matches on a face to face basis is rare. Thus Jason’s premise holds little water.

          • stillidealistic

            I have read and reread Jason’s post several times, and I can’t see where you are coming from…He is talking about discussions such as those we have here at TPM.

            Where the political junkies of the world can make a difference is by learning to communicate more effectively here at TPM in an effort to develop the right voice for having similar discussions in the real world. I would see political moderates around here become pebbles of change dropped into the pond of the common narrative happening over the backyard fence rather than across well-drawn partisan channels on the Internet. Those moderates who are part of the 20% who will vote in next year’s primaries need to commit to dragging at least one person (or two or three) to their local polling place along with them.

            Perhaps you disagree that moderate voices on this site can be useful in shaping the dialog that goes out into the general population. I tend to think that it can.

            I find myself getting more and more socially liberal as time goes by. But I find that the more liberal I “talk” in my life outside of TPM, the less the people I talk to listen. I need to moderate my talk, so that I don’t lose the ear of those I seek to impact. Humans are an impatient creature, but I believe we need to consider this process as being something that will not happen overnight. Baby steps will get us where we want to go, not a steam roller, although I prefer the steam roller approach myself.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Thanks for a complete understanding and accurate read of my blog’s premise. I swear I must be writing in a foreign tongue sometimes. You continue to be the most level-headed liberal around these parts. Makes sense that you used to be a conservative. :O)

          • stillidealistic

            In my own defense, Jason, let me say, I think I was always more socially liberal than conservative. What kept me being a repub, was being fiscally conservative and a “National Defense” conservative. The repubs blew that for me by being fiscally irresponsible and turning to lies in support of the Iraq War. So I now am, in fact, a dem, although I am just as disgusted by the dems in Congress as I am the repubs.

            If there were a 3rd party that was left of center, swore to treat lobbyists as if they had the plague, and had a real shot at winning, I would join in a heart beat. So, although the dems have my vote for the foreseeable future, I don’t love ’em…

          • matyra

            Baby steps will get us where we want to go, not a steam roller, although I prefer the steam roller approach myself.

            And here’s where the disenchantment that you (in your first entry in this thread) and others, me included, comes in. Baby steps are how we get anywhere at first. That’s why I feel that the vote in the Commerce committee, which actually is href=”http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/62727-sens-snowe-risks-perch”>putting Snowe at risk from her party, an awesome thing. Yeah, I’d like to see single payer now. But I’m happy seeing every American covered regardless of income or health insofar as their lives are improved. That’s the bottom line.

            I also agree with you about how you even perceive yourself. I consider myself a centrist, yet every stance I can think of these days, I’m on the left. Yet, when I’m talking to people, I always start in the center for the common ground. Heh, when you start off crazy in someone’s mind in their first impression, it’s hard to put yourself back in to the ‘non-crazy’ category.

          • rmrd0000

            Perhaps my face to face conversations differ from yours. When approached by a Conservative woman who was truly concerned about “Death Panels”, my response was not to call her crazy, but to point out why death panels could not happen in the US, and were not proposed in any bill.

            I have also had conversations with hardcore Republicans who are concerned about nuts showing up to public meetings armed. (Nuts is the word the Republicans used).

            Blogs are where people express opinions. The conversation can be rough and tumble. that is the nature on online conversation.

            The reason that Jason gets as much push-back is because many of us assume people are not rude in encounters on a face to face basis.

            It is amazing that someone considers having a civil conversation but pointing out a Liberal perspective is equivalent to starting off talking “crazy”. One can compare single payer to the calls one has to make to insurance companies to be allowed to get treatment or be told their doctor’s request for x-rays,etc has been denied.

            60% of the country wants more government involvement in health care. Is 60% of the country talking “crazy”?

          • stillidealistic

            The problem is, we are not a closed society here at TPM. The things we say here are read by scads of people, liberals and conservatives and everything in-between. I don’t think it is bad to have an occasional loud, rude rant, but to have that be the overall feeling people come away from after reading the site for awhile, dose our ability to change the outside dialog a disservice. I am (an I don’t believe Jason is) suggesting we muzzle ourselves, but rather to moderate the terms we use when discussing the issues.

            As plenty were quick to point out, I was pretty harsh in my discussions with my uncle (even though i think he deserved MUCH worse!) I lost his ear with the way I phrased my points…

          • rmrd0000

            People self regulate here. The tone is not going to change.

            During the primaries, some argued that Obam could lose votes to Hillary or vice versa because of comments made by a blogger vigorously supporting one candidate or the other. The terms Obamabot and PUMA were coined.

            How much impact did these vigorously supportive bloggers have? I’ll let free speech at TPM take care of itself.

          • stillidealistic

            Free speech allows that people who disagree with what you are saying are free to do so…You don’t think the tone will change, Jason has hope that it can. Don’t you just LOVE this place?! Some here (as well as in the outside world) are probably incapable of disagreeing with out name-calling and personal attacks, but that doesn’t keep some of us from TRYING to avoid it, even as we succumb to the temptation.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            There are way more lurkers than bloggers on this site and liberals acting like assholes because it is not “real” has real consequences for the democratic party’s agenda in the real world.

            I don’t doubt that you are perfectly reasonable in person. My question remains why you find it impossible to be the same online? I am not calling for everyone to agree on every point and come away smiling.

            I am looking for at least a modicum of decency as a way of creating an environment more conducive to substantive debate.

          • rmrd0000

            Where did I cross the line? You dismissed by request for a brief statement on your political position. I said that was lazy behavior. Is that over the line?

          • Jason Everett Miller

            I could go through this blog and pull out plenty of comments that make you a jerk rather than someone with a disagreement or question.

            I am happy to have honest discussions that end in agreeing to disagree if need be, but you start off with a caricature of my base opinion and then try to have a debate from that point, nothing that follows will be reasonable.

            That has been all too typical of the folks at TPM who can’t seem to grasp who I actually am rather than who they perceive me to be.

          • rmrd0000

            Let me make my position a little clearer. face to face conversations tend to be calm. The number of fistfights, stabbings, shootings,or yelling that occurs among daily acquaintances is small. I have wound up disagreeing with people politically and have still been able to be cordial even joking with them or gone to lunch with them. To me that is the norm in American life.

            Blogs are more volatlie because people are actually listening to what is being said. In face to face encounters most of us don’t want conflict. If JEM brought up his idea during lunch or dinner, most would nod pleasantly (whil not fully paying attention) or say “How interesting” A few would challenge his idea.

            On a blog. People sit down to exchange ideas. People are here to publish opinions, others are ready and willing to disagree with a given position.

            Blogs are the very place to aggressively challenge an idea. Where else can that type of vigorous debate occur?

            People leave blogs and go back out to talk with their fellow citizens using a more muted tone.

            The truth is that their are relatively few controls on blogs. If you expect agreement from most TPM bloggers to tone down their comments when they have a different viewpoint, I have a feeling that you are going to be sorely disappointed.

            The discussion on TPM had zero impact on the health care debate. Real world action by the gun-toters had much more impact. The gun-toters made the GOP look so cray that there was a slight increase in support for government health programs.

            This is a blog. The “real” world begins when you move away from the keyboard.

          • matyra

            You make sense, and are using making your points in a logical, measured way. I guess I ought to clarify who in the public I deal with. As a geologist in NM, I’m occasionally off in nowheresville, sometimes ranch land. You, once you are away from Santa Fe and Albuquerque, usually run across people with opinions far from your own. Not only do many of these people resent that the power in NM rests in these more liberal areas, but their anger often borders on the irrational side of irrational. So, I naturally make neutral comments–at least at first.

            On here, and blogs in general–sure, the point is to converse, disagree, research, learn, and advocate. I learn much on here and have changed my opinions a few times. The thing is that occasionally debates get unnecessarily nasty and rarely do people admit mistakes or that they have changed their opinion. How many times do people say that they were wrong on here? That’s one thing about blogs vs. real life that is different. In real life you own up to mistakes. (well, most people do. 😉 ) On here, you just don’t hit reply and let the thread die.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      You hit the nail on the head. This is exactly right, I think. We fall into Pavlovian responses at the grassroots while Rome burns and a city full of Neros fiddle away, no matter what letter comes after their name.

  • David L Wetzell

    Hey Jason,
    I’d say in a healthy democracy that a bipartisan “center” gets formed and reformed, but ours is not a healthy democracy… and IMHO the main reason for that is due to how our near-exclusive use of winner-take-all elections makes the system tilt too easily to single-party rule. The desire by party elites(on both sides) to tilt the system in their favor is also why it’s been hard to get over the cultural wars issues…

    I hope you can interact w my pitch for the need to use winner-doesn’t-take-all elections in more local elections and primaries.
    http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/ankotp/2009/10/move-over-health-care-pass-the.php
    dlw

    • El Presidente

      Why would we think that bipartisan compromise necessarily characterizes a healthy democracy? I don’t think that a rise in “bipartisanship” or dealmaking is more indicative of a healthy democracy than partisanship and obstructionism.

      Democracy does not necessarily, and should not necessarily, “play nice”.

      Maybe a healthy democracy means that in a 50-50 situation (health care, gay marriage, etc.), nothing changes.

      • rmrd0000

        Full bi-partisan ship is equal to false equivalency.

        If one party believes that health care is a right and the other believes that you should get the health care you can pay for, it would be hard to come up with a program suitable to both people. Someone loses.

        • El Presidente

          My point is not that someone has to win or lose, that’s life. My point is that the status quo ante is not irrelevant to who wins or loses.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks for the comment, David. I agree that our general election fascination has led to a seemingly intractable stalemate.

      I am just not certain a third or fourth party would fix that, absent a massive increase in primary election turnout over a number of election cycles.

      We simply cannot have a representative democracy where 70- to 80-percent refuse to participate in the most important part of the process.

      • El Presidente

        Why not?

        After all, up until this century we had a fully functioning democracy in which 60% or more of the adult population was legally unable to vote. And it worked out rather well. I prefer the system we have now, but saying that low participation means democracy “doesn’t work” is simply nonsense.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Up until recently, 35% of Congress would leave voluntarily. Now they won’t leave until they are in a casket.

          I would submit that our democracy is seriously broken and that would be one reason why. Until we get rid of the “professional politician” Washington will remain a cesspool of lobbyists and an unaccountable federal government.

          With the the huge, gaping holes in federal budget and the amount of fraud, waste and abuse at all levels of government, it isn’t working in any way I would want to maintain.

          • El Presidente

            Washington has always been like that, and every generation bemoans how terrible it is RIGHT NOW. If you want to get rid of professional politicians, make Congress a volunteer occupation.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            It’s only been the last fifty years or so that we saw the professional politician who only leaves Washington in a casket.

            With them came the lobbyists.

            I am not saying we never had corruption before, just that it wasn’t accepted and institutionalized as the normal way of doing business until now.

    • matyra

      Why is that video so funny but also so sad at the same time?

      Classic when the man couldn’t catch the ball and the chimp had no problem.