They Can’t Help It

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly. And racists will be racist.

Also — I had hoped to write a commentary on “How Tom Daschle Might Kill Conservatism,” but ran out of time. I’ll be busy most of today and won’t be back until this evening. Here’s Hilzoy’s comment.

In a nutshell, movement conservatives are terrified that President Obama will deliver government that works, particularly in the area of health care. Movement conservatism requires government that doesn’t work. Or, at least, doesn’t work as government. Instead, movement conservative government is a big clown show in Washington that ignores the real needs of citizens and the nation but does a bang-up job transferring tax money into the pockets of the wealthy elite and the politicians who maintain the movement conservatism status quo (there’s your “redistribution of wealth,” folks).

If President Obama is able to reform government and make it do things that people actually need it to do, there goes the neighborhood, so to speak.

6 thoughts on “They Can’t Help It

  1. If Obama governs as politically entrenched Democrats have been governing these many years, government will continue to not work for us. Self-identified liberals stuck on blaming conservatives for all our woes, should get unstuck and take a good, hard look at the voting records of Democrats in Congress.

    (Clinton took office with a Dem majority in both Houses, didn’t he. Did we witness the rebirth of a liberal agenda? If we did, I missed it.)

  2. November 22nd, 1963. Forty-five years ago today.

    I remember sitting in French Class in the old school building of Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts, when Coach Lou LaVoie, the Art teacher and Hockey Coach knocked on the window. My French teacher lifted the sill and the Coach told us that President Jack Kennedy had been assassinated.

    School ended quickly and we all gathered around a television that had been set up outside the school dining room. Nobody could think of what to say, what to do. We just kept our eyes on the view from Dallas and listened to Walter Cronkite cover the tragedy.

    Forty-five years ago today.

    Under The LobsterScope

  3. Or, as Digby put it:

    “They have to block health care reform because people will like it. And if government produces, the entire GOP worldview is lost.”

    Even more than the 2008 election, this is what’s at stake for the GOP.

  4. Excellent post. The third and four paragraph nails it. Does Buddhist training enhance the ability to be concise? I ask because I just spent around sixty hours editing a 25-page chapter on corporations and conservatives that covers nearly the same subject.

    Felicity, the mistake progressives have made in the past is thinking it only takes one or two elections to change things. We’re on the right track but it’s going to take another ten years, perhaps even twenty, to change things. There’s a lot more work to do. But one other point: the more Obama and other Democrats understand where we are, the more they’re going to have to push a progressive agenda. In the past, there was the illusion we could coast, tinker a bit, let things slide, pander to the voter, etc. That illusion is dead. We’re in trouble and inaction will only deepen the crisis we’re in. I think enough Democrats have finally figured out that until the Republicans return to some semblance of pragmatism, inaction will simply mean it will be easier for Republicans to come back in four years and give us someone like Gingrich, Palin, or Huckabee. I call that significant motivation.

  5. The Democrats in Congress do not count when it comes to making government work. I just retired after 31 years in the Federal Government and during all Democratic administrations, the civil service employees were able to get the work done. Under Donna Shalala, HHS was very productive and the workers had a quality work life. The last 7 years before I retired were the worst years of my life because the Republican administration put in people like “heckuva job brownie” as heads of agencies, crippling the ability of the civil service workers from doing our jobs. Congress has little impact on the cabinet departments. It is totally related to who is put in the politically appointed jobs. Thus, I think people should be hopeful that government will work again. There are many, many employees who want to make it work. With quality leadership, it will work.

  6. (Clinton took office with a Dem majority in both Houses, didn’t he. Did we witness the rebirth of a liberal agenda? If we did, I missed it.)

    Clinton was really good at finessing the Right through his “triangulation” strategies, but he didn’t try to sell a genuinely progressive agenda to Congress or the nation. I think at the time it would have been futile. Movement conservatism was sucking all the air out of politics in the 1990s. Clinton was brilliant just to get elected twice, never mind accomplishing anything.

    Now the opportunity is here; people are tuning out the Right and genuinely want something different. Most Dems in Congress are more cautious and more compromised than we’d like, of course, but with the right leadership and with some encouragement from public opinion, they might surprise us. We’ll see.

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