I have a simple rule, which is that ideas come before
parties, and policies come before parties. When I read that Democratic
politicians in "red states" have to conform to a "compromise
position" to be viable, I think - how about those who elect them?
Of course, the "compromise centrism" case keeps
getting tripped up both by political reality - centrist Dems seem very good at
losing, as last decade demonstrates - and by common sense. To ban assault
rifles you can't say, okay, lets compromise by not banning assault rifles.
You can't have universal health care by saying, let's
first elect democrats who are opposed to universal health care. It isn't a
matter of being an absolutist about principles. It is a matter of voting to
make your life better. Parties are merely vehicles for justice. When they
become the determinants of justice, when every compromise leads you further
from your goal, best throw them away – or take them over.
Of course, from the p.o.v. of the +250 thou a year crowd
who rule the Democratic party, the infinite compromising might be absurd. They
can "compromise" principles without ever missing a lunch. But not for
their voters: they are the ones voting to miss those lunches, to delay or
cancel those visits to the dentist, to work at Walmart 40 hrs a week instead of
retiring, to stress out their young lives trying to juggle child care and
labor. Meanwhile, inequality keeps soaring, the trade deficit keeps soaring,
the life style of the working class keeps decaying, the percentage of those
passing through jail keeps the old apartheid system well in place.
When I see pundits put this in terms of
"idealists" vs. "realists", what I know is: for the upper
class, universal healthcare is an "ideal" b/c they already have healthcare.
When you have great insurance, it might seem “idealistic” to make sure people who
are out there – your servants, the people who make the things you use, who
support your life – also have great insurance. The “ideal” has already happened
for them, so it is the “real”. But it is
sheer realism for most peeps to have a system that works for them, instead of
simply exploiting, exhausting, and rejecting them. Of course, the punditocracy,
the moderate Dem, are the first to tell us that they are really for the “poor”.
That’s why, for instance, we can’t have free tuition – that would be “welfare
for the middle class.” And all the like bullshit. We can’t have free tuition,
really, because the rentseekers wouldn’t get that interest from student loans
and the “haves” would suddenly find their children rubbing shoulders with the “have
nots” at good schools. That’s about it.