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Hometown: Florida
Current location: Orlando
Member since: Wed Nov 10, 2004, 08:49 AM
Number of posts: 20,958

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Centrism is for "LOSERS" -- what Thomas Frank says about Carter/Obama is a MUST READ

Actually, Frank is taking off from Rick Perlstein's "The Invisible Bridge" which is a deep dive into the Carter/Reagan years, but the thesis is just as bright coming from either writer: when we unburden ourselves of values we lose.

It's really simple, and yet we make the same mistakes again and again. It has nothing to do with the left not being action-oriented, or "achievement-minded." It has to do with how you losing your soul translates directly into losing votes. It's instant karma, yo.

But don't take my word for it -- look at where the unions, advocacy groups and (gasp!) party members are flocking now: paid sick days, raise the wage, and equal pay for women. These have been long-standing progressive values…and we WIN ELECTIONS WITH THEM.


Thomas Frank: “We are such losers”
Liberals yearn to believe in post-ideological blank slates -- and get disappointed every time. Will we ever learn?

(snip to the chase)

The job required much more than that, however. Carter could work out solutions on paper, Fallows acknowledged, but he failed “to project a vision larger than the problem he is tackling at the moment.” More bluntly: “Carter cannot explain what he is doing.” Narrative is always a problem for post-ideological Democrats, of course, but it has been a notable obstacle for Barack Obama, who (unlike Carter) is one of the great orators of our time and yet who is convinced, according to Jonathan Alter’s book “The Center Holds,” that presidential oratory doesn’t really matter.

The final ironic lesson of the Carter presidency should be a cautionary tale for any centrist Democrat who dreams of striking a “grand bargain” with the right: No matter what conservative deeds Democrats undertake, as Rick Perlstein told me in conversation a few days ago, they will never win respect for it. It was Jimmy Carter, not the Republicans, who enacted the sweeping deregulation of transportation. It was Carter, not Reagan, who recommitted America to the Cold War and who slapped a grain embargo on the Soviet Union after that country invaded Afghanistan. (Reagan is the guy who lifted it.) And yet, in the mind of the public, Carter will stand forever as a symbol of liberalism’s fecklessness.

Barack Obama survived his re-election, but he is suffering a form of Jimmy Carter’s fate nevertheless. The ambiguous idealism of Carter’s first run for the presidency was precisely what set the table for his downfall later on. Being a “blank screen” or the personal object of the enthusiasm of millions—these may play well when a candidate is unknown, but they are postures impossible to maintain as president. In both cases, they led inevitably to disappointment and disillusionment.

The moral of this story is not directed at Democratic politicians; it is meant for us, the liberal rank and file. We still “yearn to believe,” as Perlstein says. There is something about the Carter / Obama personality that appeals to us in a deep, unspoken way, and that has led Democrats to fall for a whole string of passionless centrists: John Kerry, Al Gore, Michael Dukakis, Gary Hart and Bill Clinton. Each time, Democratic voters are enchanted by a kind of intellectual idealism that (we are told) is unmoored from ideology. We persuade ourselves that the answer to the savagery of the right—the way to trump the naked class aggression of the One Percent—is to say farewell to our own tradition and get past politics and ideology altogether. And so we focus on the person of the well-meaning, hyper-intelligent leader. We are so high-minded, we think. We are so scientific.

We are such losers.

Posted by nashville_brook | Sun Oct 26, 2014, 12:11 PM (194 replies)

Dickensian US Working Conditions Almost Guarantee Ebola Catastrophe

Why is the US freaking out about Ebola while the rest of the world seems to be taking it stride? Damn good question.

Dickensian US Working Conditions Almost Guarantee Ebola Catastrophe



One reason Europeans are not in a state of hysteria about Ebola the way the US public is, besides the confidence Europeans have in their universal health care systems, is that they know that waiters, maids and housekeepers have a right to paid sick leave, so they are not going to be on the job infecting others if they get the disease. They'll be availing themselves of free or next-to-free healthcare and getting tested and if necessary, treated.

Europeans also know that low-income workers are not going to send sick children off to day care or school. Unlike in the US, where many poor working parents have to choose between leaving small children home alone when they’re sick, or sending them to school anyway, so that their parents can keep their jobs, European parents in countries like Finland, where I spent some time last summer, and most other parts of the EU, have the right to paid leave so they can stay home and care for a sick child. Their schools also have nurses, unlike in the US, where impoverished school districts like Philadlephia have cut their school nurses from the payroll.

These programs are humane and just and have been won through years of labor movement struggle in Europe, but they are also beneficial to all the other people in a country -- the middle and upper classes for whom things like health insurance and paid sick days are simply expected.

Not so in the US, where a Darwinian philosophy prevails that argues that the poor do not deserve “handouts” like sick pay or health benefits.


Posted by nashville_brook | Mon Oct 13, 2014, 10:15 AM (116 replies)
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