Monday, May 13, 2013

Degenerative Democratic Party Syndrome (DDPS)

Looking back on the Democratic party's recovery in 2008-09 winning both the Senate and the House of Representatives as well as the presidency there seems to be a peculiar disease affecting those within the party.  The party that once championed Social Security, regulation of the financial industry, and assailed those who supported an endless war on terror and the Bush Doctrine; is now looking at cuts to SS, favors only very minimal regulation of the finance industries, and seems to now lend full support to the the war on terror and tenets of the Bush Doctrine.  Essentially liberals don't really seem liberal anymore, and it's due to authoritarian blindness and the degeneration of the party.  I'm calling this cessation and decay of liberal thought Degenerative Democratic Party Syndrome (DDPS), not to be confused with DRPS (Degenerative Republican Party Syndrome) which seems to affect Republicans when they're in power and causes them to forget every talking point they ever created on fiscal conservatism.  Degenerative party syndromes tend to come about mostly when a party comes to power and rather than representing a principled position in line with past positions, they degenerate to positions that serve the established powers, and begin to praise positions that just a few earthly rotations of the sun back would be polar opposites.  

When Barack Obama was elected president and began serving in 2009, most people who supported him seemed to genuinely believe that he was a political figure that could set right what had once gone wrong during the Bush presidency while reshaping the very nature of the political system.  While he wasn't making a Quantum Leap, his leap as a constitutional scholar to the presidency seemed to capture the hopes of the Democratic Party constituents who expected change.  Since I was not an Obama supporter during the 2008 election cycle - because I saw through his marketing campaign and told personal friends time and time again that his plans for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars mirrored Bush's and he supported increasing the size of the military which was a sure sign of business as usual politics no matter what party is in office- I wasn't as taken as his supporters in the hope for real change in the political system.  However, I did expect a little more from Obama and the Democratic Party than we've seen over the last 4 years.  The primary arguments against Bush seemed to be his unilateral swagger in regards to foreign policy, his curtailment of civil liberties, and a general disgust for his economic and social conservatism.  Yet it seems that the Democratic leaders and pundits alike have shifted towards positions that were once loathed by liberals.  

For example lets take a look at one of Obama's campaign promises to shutdown Guantanamo Bay's US prison site, famous around the world for torturing its inmates.  Recently it's been receiving a little more press with many inmates on hunger strikes to protest the conditions there and that many prisoners cleared for release are still being held.  While we can ignore for the time being that his real plan to shut down Guantanamo was really just a plan to create 'Guantanamo North' right here in the US - which allowed them to continue indefinite detention policies- the striking thing is not Obama's failure to close the facility, but the shift in public opinion towards Guantanamo.  
In just a few years time Democrats have gone from supporting it's closure to being pro Gitmo.  Doesn't it seem odd that one of the greatest stains of Bush's presidency and US foreign policy is now being supported by Democrats?  This is an advanced case of DDPS clearly showing the bend in political opinion since Obama stopped pursuing closing the prison.  It should be interesting now that Obama has renewed his pledge to "close" the facility to see if opinion shifts back.

Another such example is support for the war on terror.  Drone strikes that are being justified by the same old "the world is a battlefield Bush Doctrine" have been embraced by Democrats.   "Democrats approve of the drone strikes on American citizens by 58-33, and even liberals approve of them, 55-35."  This means that even self proclaimed liberals support drone strikes against US citizens, giving whomever the current president is the power to secretly kill citizens regardless of geographic location and outside the normative processes of law.  Who thinks for a second that if Bush had stepped out with this policy that liberals and Democrats alike wouldn't have supported this policy?

There are so many symptoms of this left wing hypocrisy disease it might be better to list them:  
Obama signed the NDAA and continued the Patriot Act
Obama fought against any meaningful regulation of the financial industry
Obama favored and signed extending the Bush tax cuts
Obama supports cuts to Social Security and Medicaid
Obama supports immigration reform similar to Bush's plan

So how does one treat DDPS?  They're called principles and they may work for you.  If you believe that invading and occupying countries is a bad idea under Bush, supporting the continuation of those occupations under a new president, principles may be right for you.  If you think drone strikes target only terrorists and support the program despite having no knowledge of who is being targeted even when evidence shows civilians are being killed time and time again, principles may be right for you.  If you think Obamacare is a step towards a progressive healthcare system when there is no public option, principles may be right for you.  If you think that cuts to Social Security and Medicaid are terrible ideas, but voted for Obama, principles might be right for you.  

WARNING: Assuming principled arguments rather than partisan worship may cause: scrutiny from both political parties, defending yourself from straw man arguments that your represent the "other party's" views, feeling nauseous every time you hear the words bipartisan cooperation, death to any political career as you can't change your policy with whatever way the wind blows, and upsetting the establishment.  

Consult history books, experts, and other evidence before making principled arguments.  Do not use while in political office or on national TV or it could result in job loss or controversy.  

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