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I get a little angry ever time I hear the "both parties are the same" line, especially as I think it is far less true than it was a few years ago, and for the right reasons.

An Obama win continues to build momentum in a vaguely leftward direction, by showing that the hard work the various left-leaning volunteer and fund-raising networks can have success.  Grassroots pressure for stronger and more outspoken candidates has resulted in a crop of much better House and Senate candidates, but a lot of them are not going to win without a solid win at the top of the ticket, and will have absolutely no chance to accomplish anything with a Republican president.  Not only does an Obama victory set up the chance for an even stronger progressive at the top of the ticket in 2016, but it also validates the work a lot of people have been putting into the Democratic party.

Further, the corporate money has been really leaning more and more towards the Republicans in recent years, and this really matters for the "both sides are controlled by the same rich donors" narrative.  Fact is, the Koch brothers are NOT donating to Democrats, ever, and thus when Democrats win despite their efforts they are in no way beholden to them.  A solid win for the Democrats in down-ticket races this cycle, despite Citizens United and despite the lopsided pro-Republican spending of the big money interests, can start to free up the Democrats from any need for subservience to those same interests.  Relating back to the first point, I'm guessing that one reason that this cycle has seen a distinctly progressive crop of candidates has been the shift of the big money to the right - there's less and less point in running as a business-friendly Conserva-Dem, because the people who back them have sunk their money into the other side.

In my opinion, the continued hold of Third Way neo-liberalism in the Democratic party is much more an issue of narrative capture than funding at the moment, but even that is weakening.  And every minor little victory that Obama and the Democrats have, and ever time a new government policy helps a few people here or there, that narrative is weakened a bit more.  As the original diarist pointed out, those little victories are happening in energy and transportation policy, they are starting to happen in health care, and they have even happened in financial regulation.  Those little victories can be built upon with momentum.

by Zwackus on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 05:24:38 AM EST
Wait, you hate my argument because you hate arguments that say the Democrats and the Republicans are the same, which my argument does not do?

What argument is "this argument" in the subject a reference to?

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 10:47:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I'm sorry, I should have been clearer about that.

I do not hate your particular pro-Obama argument.  I think it's just fine.

I hate the larger argument it's part of, the "both sides are the same, Obama is just Republican-lite/no they're not, there are real differences between the parties" argument.  It bothers me that it's really necessary to make arguments like yours, or arguments like the one I presented in my article, because it bothers me just how important it seems to so many people.

Now, I'm no less likely to jump into an argument that I hate, rather than an argument that I enjoy.  I wouldn't have written this otherwise.  But still.

by Zwackus on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 03:36:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I reckoned as much, but didn't want to presume without asking.

Yes, the "there is no difference" seems to me to be a quite sophomoric argument arrived at by a false dichotomy in which "agree with me" / "disagree with me" is the dimension, and the person making the argument hold a position nobody could hold and take power, so all serious rivals to take government are in the "disagree with my position" camp.

The fact that there is quite a range among the corporatists ranging from serious minded technocrats that labor under a false neoliberal theory of how the economy works and so do not pursue the best policies available, to corporatists that would at one time have been closest fascists, and increasingly in the US right wing are open fascists.

So the line of argument that runs, "the Republicans are corporatist, the Democrats are corporatist, therefore they are equal", or "the Republicans do not propose doing enough to substantially ameliorate climate change, the Democrats do not propose doing enough to substantially ameliorate climate change, therefore they are equal" are both saying, in essence, "the Republicans and Democrats are both members of the status quo establishment."

But both being, by and large, members of the status quo establishment does not thereby imply that they are identical, any more than the fact that a barn is full of horses mean that any particular horse is identically useful when harnessed to plow, or when entered into a horse race.

A lot of progressives in the US convinced themselves in 2008 that Obama was something that he was not, because they needed to pretend that he was a progressive in order to enthusiastically support him. And then when he proved to be who he always was, rather than who they imagined him to be, they felt a sense of betrayal.

Blaming that sense of betrayal on Obama's "broken promises" is perhaps natural, but in the final analysis, they were the author of most of the promises that they felt that Obama had broken. Matt Stoller is an example of that when he uses the "breaking of the promise" to renegotiate NAFTA. Coming from a supporter of corporate trade agreements, the promise to "renegotiate" one of those agreements is an evidently empty one, made to take off pressure for being a supporter of corporate trade agreements, since there is no reason to believe that the result of renegotiating would be a progressive outcome.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 04:38:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with pretty much everything you just said.  
by Zwackus on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 09:09:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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