Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Death of the Left

I'm working on a post that deals with some of the same issues in greater detail, but for now read this Matt Stoller commentary on Cuomo's endorsement from the Working Families Party. A tough read but extremely important:
After a resurgence under Bush from 2005-2008, liberals have been losing consistently for six years now. Donna Edwards and Ned Lamont were the last stand. Now there is no real war within the Democratic Party. In blue states like Wisconsin, public unions got crushed, the centrist beat the liberal in the primary and then lost to Scott Walker. Primaries all over, blue states and red, are slaughters for liberals. EMILY'S list, the DCCC, the White House, and every other party institution makes liberals their chew toy. There are no challenges to incumbent centrist Democrats anymore, but there are right-wing challenges to liberals (see Ro Khanna).

There are some bright spots. Elizabeth Warren is a good Senator with a strong sense of consequential policy moves. But she uses her vast political network to help mainstream Democrats, not liberals. And Bill de Blasio and Eric Schneiderman, both aesthetically left-ish I suppose, are essentially failed at policymaking and stumped for Cuomo. The bright spots are not advancing the ball politically, or even worse, they are making things worse.

Meanwhile, forums for discussion are ruined. There's no place where genuine debates happen, where people debate and fight over what to do, where intellectual centers bubble over with energetic policy questions. Nothing like CPAC, for instance. There is grassroots energy, in some places, but that is totally disconnected from the political establishment.

I don't know what to do about this. I think, after years of watching this, that liberals have just been convinced that liberalism doesn't work. They think that liberals can't govern. Even though they dislike Cuomo, they don't actually think Zephyr could be Governor. They want mythic conservative figures, like Cuomo, and Obama, and so forth, and they don't really believe that government can make their lives better in any fundamental way. But Zephyr could be Governor! It's just a job. She could actually make college free in New York, and start a state debt card competitive with the banks, and bring small farms back to NY, and make the state carbon neutral. That's all possible! It's not that hard!

Anyway, I hope people take away from what happened last night a real sense that we need some soul-searching. We need to start asking ourselves why we dare not work for a better world, why when faced with a choice of the good versus the evil, the courageous versus the cowardly, the hope versus the fear, we pick fear. Because that's what happened. There was no structural blah blah blah this time. It was a group of liberals picking fear, fighting for fear, and making fear the guiding point of politics, one more time.

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