Democrats are the 3rd wing of the Republican Party

Drew Westen pulls no punches in describing what he sees as one of the three major factors in the Republican Party. The whole piece is worth a read, but this passage is important:

And that brings us to the third wing of the Republican Party, the Democrats. Their standard-bearer, President Obama, has proven himself perhaps the strongest potential challenger to Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination if he decides to join the debates, having established his conservative bona fides on a wide range of social and economic issues:

  • Deporting more immigrants and breaking up more families than George W. Bush (or to put it in more business-friendly language, increasing U.S. “exports” of poorly documented human capital).
  • Coming out in support of expanded off-shoring drilling just before the BP catastrophe in the Gulf; repeatedly touting production of a mythical substance (seen only, legend has it, by industry executives) as “clean coal” (widely believed to be found in the Fountain of Youth); and calling for the building of more nuclear plants, which the Japanese have shown to be a safe complement to offshore drilling (perhaps with the hope that water contaminated with radioactive materials discharged into the ocean might prove useful as a dispersant for oil).
  • Extending the “Hyde Amendment” to allow GOP lawmakers to exclude abortion coverage from even private health insurance.
  • Cutting 120 billion in taxes for the rich while proposing billions in cuts to “entitlements,” such as home heating subsidies to people who are poor or elderly.
  • Making sure the nation’s largest banks remained solvent so they could continue to foreclose on the homes of millions of Americans, whose tax dollars supported the multi-million-dollar bonuses of the executives who continue to refuse to renegotiate their mortgages.
  • Saying virtually nothing as Republican governors and state legislators around the country attack organized labor (e.g., remaining almost entirely mum on the Wisconsin law stripping workers of the right to negotiate their contracts).

But that’s just the president. We can’t blame the party whose name he never utters for the actions or inactions of its titular leader, who prefers to remain “post-partisan.”

Westen goes on:

Americans need a choice again between two parties, not between two strains of Hoover Republicanism. The more Democrats offer them the latter, the more they will both sink the economy and blur any distinctions left between the parties. Frankly, if the question is, “Who can do the better job slashing programs to finance tax breaks for the rich?” I would vote Republican. If you want trickle down, vote for people who really believe in it, not the ones who say they believe in it when they are too frightened to say what they really believe.

I don’t know that it’s true that Democrats – particularly the Obama administration and the Senate caucus and Blue Dogs in the House – aren’t doing what they believe. Granted, many ran on doing liberal things in 2008, but have consistently chosen to do Republican things while in office.  The DLC, Third Way, and the Blue Dogs have spent decades trying to move the Democratic Party to the right. The Obama administration is an exhibition of those efforts in many unfortunate ways. But Westen’s point is true – if given a choice between a Democrat acting like a Republican and a Republican, why wouldn’t voters choice the authentic Republican?

I’m at a presentation today with union organizers from around the world. A presenter from Spain’s Pirate Party just talked about the rise of apolitical resistance here in Spain. Rather than backing corrupt parties that care more about corporate (and foreign corporate) interests, they are focusing on putting forward good ideas and achieving those ideas. There’s a huge popular movement here behind this apolitical form of organizing around ideas. At least right now, it resonates for me far beyond the idea of finding less bashful liberals to run for Democratic offices.

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