Friday, May 25, 2007

The courage of politicians

Lots of flack in the air over the Iraq funding vote by Democrats. Most of it well-deserved.

Lots of anger and frustration. Lots of promises to abandon the Democrats and/or run against them.

But few comments as useful as this from Paul at Alien & Sedition:
The single-best piece of advice for progressives is still Franklin Roosevelt's admonishment to that group of labor leaders who visited him in the Oval Office with a demand: "You have convinced me. Now go out and find a constituency and make me do it." This is the principle around which the entire conservative media and political edifice is built.

The lesson of the 2004 election was that the fortunes of a political movement cannot ride upon the fate of a presidential campaign; if anything, it should be the other way around.

Likewise, the fortunes of a political movement cannot be made dependant upon the courage of politicians. The point of a political movement is to make the courage of politicians irrelevant.
While "movement conservatism" crumbles, Democrats still quake like Dorothy & friends at the large, loud talking head, even though they know it's all a show by the party behind the curtain.

What the Iraq funding vote shows is that the Bushies' weakness is not the same as Democratic strength. Democrats won't find theirs in any wizard's black bag. What they lack is spine. Either they have it already or they don't.

But as Paul's Roosevelt story points out, that's their problem. Ours is to make their lack of spine irrelevant, to make them do the right thing in spite of themselves. Our job is to do that by supplanting dying movement conservatism with a viable, reformist movement progressivism. Our job is to build a bigger, better, more irresistible movement they cannot ignore.

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