I still get Truthout emails and pay some attention, but they have been low priority for me, because I believe the proper way to reclaim the American Enlightenment is not by dogma-driven oversimplification... even from the side that I mostly agree-with.
I prefer another approach -- a radically militant centrism that abjures the loopy and meaningless “left-right political axis.” (What does it even mean anymore, with liberals transforming into “waste-not” puritans, efficiency preachers, budget-balancers, free-market defenders and promoters of states-rights... while the so-called right now stands for the most prodigious expansion of a secretive, spendthrift and meddlesomely corrupt federal establishment? Can left and right even begin to cover such ironies?)
What we need is a centrist doctrine that is not pallid or compromising -- firmly demanding accountability, social justice and due diligence to the needs of our planetary descendants -- but also appealing to sincere “classic” American conservatives, with the shared theme of can-do, problem-solving and a spirit of eclectic negotiation. Indeed, the best way to win this “culture war” is to wage a ferocious fight AGAINST Culture War itself! We can do this by creating a big tent, offering home to a new US consensus of the middle.
A consensus that is unafraid of tomorrow.
Now, just in time, Truthout seems to be getting it, at least partly. For example, I have been surprised to see them -- and a number of other pundits -- give the right spin on Joe Lieberman’s recent defeat in the Connecticut senatorial primary. At least they had the sense to push the following riff from a New York Times editorial: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/080906K.shtml
Mr. Lieberman's supporters have tried to depict Mr. Lamont and his backers as wild-eyed radicals who want to punish the senator for working with Republicans and to force the Democratic Party into a disastrous turn toward extremism. It's hard to imagine Connecticut, which likes to be called the Land of Steady Habits, as an encampment of left-wing isolationists, and it's hard to imagine Mr. Lamont, who worked happily with the Republicans in Greenwich politics, leading that kind of revolution.
The rebellion against Mr. Lieberman was actually an uprising by that rare phenomenon, irate moderates. They are the voters who have been unnerved over the last few years as the country has seemed to be galloping in a deeply unmoderate direction. A war that began at the president's choosing has degenerated into a desperate, bloody mess that has turned much of the world against the United States. The administration's contempt for international agreements, Congressional prerogatives and the authority of the courts has undermined the rule of law abroad and at home.
Yet while all this has been happening, the political discussion in Washington has become a captive of the Bush agenda. Traditional beliefs like every person's right to a day in court, or the conviction that America should not start wars it does not know how to win, wind up being portrayed as extreme. The middle becomes a place where senators struggle to get the president to volunteer to obey the law when the mood strikes him. Attempting to regain the real center becomes a radical alternative.
Last time, I spoke despairingly of our chance of reclaiming the government of the United States for the people. Indeed, is it even possible to turn things around right now? Can you believe that even with GOP popularity down around their ankles, the pollsters perceive them having an even chance of retaining both houses of Congress?
(The thing they desperately need, of course. Their hegemony is frail. If either house ever resumed performing its function of advice and consent and supervision, issuing subpoenas to real hearings, the flood of resulting indictments could trigger a coup. Rent the old Costa Gravas film “Z”. (Much better than “V”!)
Of course things could change. Especially if the forces in opposition to Bush & co are willing to do some serious re-evaluating. A re-evaluation the folks at New Politics claim they want to foster.
Next time I want to discuss the most suicidal aspect of today’s liberalism. The aspect that Karl Rove has been able to use to his advantage for 14 years.
His worst nightmare is that Blue America - the Union - will wake up and stop handing him victories on a silver platter.
My nightmare is that we will keep doing exactly that.