Monday, December 13, 2004

Winning Back the Working Class

Thanks to American Samizdat for pointing me to an interesting analysis by Stan Hister at Zmag on the wrong direction of class warfare. Like so many post November 2 analyses, it uses Thomas Frank's book "What's the Matter with Kansas?" as a starting point and cranks the debate up a few degrees:
So while the right is doing everything it can to appear more extreme, the left is all sweet moderation. While the right is constantly emphasizing its 'principles' and 'values', the left is shamelessly selling out to the first 'electable' pretty face that comes along. In this sense there is a grain of truth in the mountain of right-wing lies about morality: the left doesn't seem to stand for anything anymore, it doesn't seem to have a moral compass. This is true even of so evidently moral a film as "Fahrenheit 9/11", easily the most influential intervention by the left in the campaign. You came out of that movie wanting to storm the barricades - and all you were offered was a Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker.

Hister's solution? Get honest about economic issues by putting socialism back on the table. Well, I don't see that happening, at least not to the extent that the radical left defines it. In the US, "socialism" carries the kind of connotation of some extreme anti-everything-American ideal, that if Americans accepted socialism we might as well all start cross-dressing, burning down churches, speaking French, and forcibly aborting babies from women who dared to engage in heterosexual activity for the sake of procreation.

Another right-wing boogeyman, socialism is about as bad as it gets. However, whenever I hear someone (right or left) shudder at the mention of socialism, I point to the Scandinavian countries as an example of socialism working just fine.

Strip away the pejorative aspects of "socialism" by re-stating the issues as livable wages, the end of corporate welfare, child care, health care, and putting a stop to allowing big business running rough-shod over ordinary, working Americans. I don't forsee the Dems dumping their corporatist patronage and that's unfortunate. Until Dems are willing to get completely honest about economic issues, they're going to continue losing elections.


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