Friday, June 26, 2009

The major problem with the left

Is demonstrated by Greenpeace, courtesy of David Corn. Look, as far as controlling climate change, Waxman-Markey isn't nearly enough, and it has obvious flaws. But this letter is very, very silly. It would be one thing if Waxman-Markey were what emerged from a House in which 300-400 members were committed to serious action in averting climate change. But this is not the case--Republicans essentially want to do nothing while not entirely looking like they're doing nothing, and while most Democrats want to take serious action on this the party's centrist flank doesn't. In other words, trying to kill this bill wouldn't result in a better bill to deal with climate change--it would probably result in no bill. At all.

And this gets at the basic problem of the left--the people running the institutions simply lack political understanding. At least, they lack political understanding outside of various left-of-center circles. You see it here, you see it even worse with the pro-choice movement, which chose inexplicably to fight a ban on partial-birth abortions that were never legal under Roe, but which allowed pro-lifers to flank them. The key insight here is that, sometimes, giving up some bad ground to your opponent can work to your advantage in the long run if the ground to which you retreat is more defensible and closer to your supply lines, thus allowing for easier reinforcement. Greenpeace would have us fight on ground that isn't holdable now, but that might be ready in five years, provided that we stake a foothold and try to build on it. I don't want to extend this metaphor too far, but hopefully my point is made.

Put another way, I'm sure that Ronald Reagan wasn't satisfied with lowering the top tax bracket to 50% in the early 1980s, but he took it and built on it. Of course, he was leading a movement staffed by savvy and experienced professionals. One hopes that Obama will have a similar impact on progressivism.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.