Thursday, April 11, 2013

Evolution Of Ideas

As we continue to dig into the details of the budget President Obama and the White House presented on Wednesday, and the Senate gets ready to vote today on the gun safety reforms we've discussed earlier this week, we think it's healthy and important to focus on a few debates about political evolution going on right now, about principle and compromise.

On the left, this debate is boiling to the top because of President Obama's budget, and the President's longstanding claims that some earned benefits - like Medicare - may have to be trimmed. Liberals insist there be ZERO cutting of any kind. Progressives are leaving wiggle room - for a reason.

On the right, the battle between compromise and principle has simply widened what has already been an intraparty civil war. From the Hastert Rule "violations" by Speaker Boehner, to a Tea Party activist in Oklahoma blackmailing a Republican state senator, to the paranoid accusations by Mitch McConnell of what is likely one of his own staffers recording a political strategy session, right-leaning moderates and conservatives hate each other almost as much as they hate anyone on the left.

The hostility in both cases comes, in part, from each side being a bit unfamiliar with its current body politic, like a teenager going through a growth spurt.

On the right, the same exact hate speech has been used and reused as the primary political motivating tool for over a century, as though evolution was something unnecessary for conservatives to achieve. Some members of the Republican Party finally appear to be starting to abandon that method of motivation, as it's only yielding progressively diminished returns, on issues from same sex marriage, to immigration reform, to gun safety laws, and more.

The left has seemingly already evolved, to a degree, though its two main factions still aren't quite speaking the same language.

Ed Kilgore And Jonathan Bernstein's discussion in Washington Monthly and Salon of what's wrong with the GOP is a perfect example of this speaking in two different tongues.

The discussion about what President Obama's true goals are in his budget is another.

On the farther, more liberal left, well known bloggers like Heather "Digby" Parton and cartoonists like Herblock Award-winning Tom Tomorrow, as well as former labor Secretary Robert Reich don't entirely trust that President Obama isn't going to sell out the middle class on earned benefits issues like Medicare.

Well known political wonks like Greg Sargent, Ezra Klein, and Michael Tomasky tend to see the same thing we do: That President Obama is playing politics with his budget plan, fully well-aware that even though Obama's basically given Republicans in Congress everything they want, they still will not be able to get a deal with him, because of their extremist bretheren.

Since Obama and the more centrist progressive Democrats can't get a policy win, they're using this opportunity to broadly show the world exactly where the blockage is in Washington, DC - with the obstructionist Republicans in the House - so the Dems can claim a political victory in the House in 2014. Then, President Obama may be able to actually govern again, as he did during his first two years in office.

We're not sure which side will evolve, politically, before the other one does, though we certainly favor one side.

We are certain of this: Whichever side evolves first, and learns to control itself, and communicate effectively will likely win solid majorities, at all levels, for many election cycles to come.