Chris P, an old friend in a new suit, asked in comments what I thought of Robert Greene's strategy for electoral success in the upcoming election. But really, why go half measures? Why only comment on the grand, pretentious strategizing of others, when I could offer my own grand, pretentious strategy?
So here goes: with the upcoming congressional election admittedly looking like even hysterical gay-bashing can't rescue a pedophile-protecting Republican majority, there's still a chance that Democrats will maintain their current sad-sack status. My solution is as follows:
Move farther to the left.
Seriously. And hear me out on this, because I can already feel the comments of "we're too far left already" even before it's posted. Obviously, I would want the Democratic party to become more liberal even in a perfect world, because I'm a radical myself. But frankly, I think the reason that most people believe that Democrats are at an extreme is because they've been told that's the case. The Republican strategists have made a point of painting us as commies and godless babykillers anyway. I don't see why we shouldn't get as much out of it as possible.
Besides, despite the fact that they call us extremists, the Democratic party line is really pretty tame. If we're extremists, then where's my universal health care? Where's my government regulation of private industry? My pro-environment energy policy? My aggressive withdrawal from Iraq? If we're going to be castigated simply for being liberals, then let's not screw around. Besides, most of America supports a lot of these proposals, if someone would just try to advocate them without undue knee-knocking and quivering.
When you hear supposed "independents" like Lewis Black joke about politics, a common line is "Remember when we had an opposition party?" That's the second advantage of really taking up a real liberal agenda: it gives us an actual spine. Forget the idea that extremism is driving people away: Republicans have run on increasingly extreme political positions for the last 12 years. The answer to that extremism is not to meet it halfway--how do you meet someone halfway on torture or gay marriage anyway? We're only going to brutally sacrifice our values if we flip heads? Give me a break. Show Americans that Democrats actually stand for something, and the independents will whine and complain--but eventually, they're going to vote for the people they were going to elect anyway, and the base will be reenergized. Again, we've seen this work on the other side.
Speaking of the other side, there's the argument that Democrats should compromise to lure people away. Rabinowitz puts paid to that argument, and I tend to agree: you're not going to pull people away from the Republican party by becoming Diet Republicans, because they've already got a party filling that role. Why would they vote for Diet R when the original formula is still there, and still so fanatically delicious?
Not to mention the part of the Republican base that liberals continually imagine they could seduce: the Christian Right. I love this idea in a sick way, because it presumes rationality. But the Christian Right is not rational--indeed, by choosing a fundamentalist, anti-science faith, they are explicitly irrational and proud of it. They will also never vote for a Democrat, because they're convinced that Jesus wasn't about the poor as much as he was about keeping women pregnant and killing fags. We can't win them, and we can't compromise with them. All we can do is fight them.
This is a country that's split and polarized, and I'm not going to argue that. Eventually, it does need to be dragged back together. But I don't want our goal to be unity under a racist, homophobic, Christian compromise. We might get there eventually, but until that day is unavoidable I don't see any advantages to caving. I see a lot of advantages to a radical agenda and then (possibly) meeting in the middle from there.