Post Global Question

Amanda answers the inevitable Post Global question, “What one recommendation would you make to the members of the U.S. House and Senate who will be elected Tuesday?”

If the Republicans keep the majority, the best I can hope for is a bit of hesitation to rubber stamp every evil thing the Bush administration wants to do. I hope in particular that congressional Republicans realize that their jobs are in threat if they support more military adventures.

Of course, unless the monkey business at the polls is extreme, this one looks like a walk for the Democrats. The very first thing I want to see is an extensive investigation into the myriad of Bush administration scandals. Early exit polls show that corruption is the biggest issue that’s driving people to the polls, which means that if anything is a mandate for the next Congress, investigating the Bush administration is it.

I don’t know where Wonkette is getting her numbers from – I can’t find the exit poll she’s talking about – but even if she’s right, it’s the wrong way to go. Corruption is bad. But focusing on corruption scandals while health care costs are soaring, abortion becomes harder and harder to obtain, and the US military is spending massive amounts of money on making Iraqis’ lives miserable is misguided.

A lot of it boils down to the distinction between progressives and reformists. Although both support a certain amount of change, the way they envision change is very different. Reformism is all about meta-politics, fighting corruption, and fixing the problems most people agree should be fixed. The Democrats could take that road – it’s sure better than conservatism – but they’d be wiser to take the progressive road. Progressivism focuses almost exclusively on policy issues, and is more about ends than means; it’s also likelier to point out injustices and fight them instead of wait for polls to say 70% of the people want something changed.

So being a good progressive, I can’t answer that question with a process issue. I’d like to say, “Institute single payer health care,” but that’s not going to happen. Raising the minimum wage is more practical, since even if the Democrats only win 50 seats including Sanders’, Lieberman will probably join them; he was one of the cosponsors of an earlier minimum wage increase bill, and overall seems liberal on economic issues.

On the other hand, a minimum wage increase sounds like so little. It won’t even bring the US minimum wage up to par with European countries with two thirds its GDP per capita. It won’t fight mounting health care costs, which unfortunately will keep rising because the Democrats don’t dare fight for socialized medicine. It’s not even strictly necessary – union-heavy countries like Norway and Sweden do fine with no statutory minimum wage.

If getting out of Iraq is politically feasible, then I suppose this is what will do the most good. But for that the Democrats will face tougher opposition, not just from Lieberman but also from right-wingers in their own ranks like Ben Nelson. If they’re capable of pulling off a withdrawal in face of this opposition, it’ll invalidate my entire point about their political weakness. It’d be a positive development, but my points tend not to get invalidated.

7 Responses to Post Global Question

  1. whig says:

    Your points are not valid, I think. There isn’t a choice to be made between doing the progressive thing or the reform thing, you have to do both or you won’t get either.

  2. Alon Levy says:

    It’s not so much about labels as about priorities. Fighting corruption isn’t that high a priority; cleaning politics is an important thing, but it’s a project for a time without more pressing social problems.

  3. whig says:

    There are multiple committees in congress, allowing all priorities to be vigorously pursued simultaneously.

  4. Alon Levy says:

    Yeah, but the Democratic Party as a whole has to focus on certain things. For a start, it needs national media attention to exercise leverage over conservative Democrats who might take exception to a liberal agenda.

  5. whig says:

    That’s a matter of communications only. Every organization that does many things internally only talks about certain things in very great detail. As long as the committees report out their findings and publish them for the public to read, we will know if they are doing their jobs.

  6. whig says:

    On rereading what you last wrote, I think I see where you and I are looking at this differently. You talk about the national media focus and my main focus is here on the nets. Both are important, and both need targeted communications suitable for that medium.

  7. Bushbaptist says:

    Who need’s Soap Operas. We get more entertainment out of an American Election! 😉
    Seriously, there will be some cosmetic changes with the Demos some of which will benefit many Americans. But by and large there is little difference between the Demos and Reps. Both are controlled by big business.

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