The Center for American Progress is hosting a conference for Democratic leaders under the rubric of "Securing the Common Good." Former President Bill Clinton is currently speaking on MSNBC as the conference keynote, and the talking heads on the network have been building the speech up quite a bit this morning.
Bill Clinton mentioned an Andrew Jackson philosophy early on in the speech: "opportunity for all, special privileges for none." Which got me thinking about how far away from that we are at the moment. I don't think that we have ever, as a nation, been in a spot where Americans genuinely lived in a society where everyone had an opportunity to live out their dreams, or where the haves weren't getting more while the have nots were wondering how to stop getting less.
But at the moment in George Bush's America, there seems to be a vast gulf between the two extreme ends — perhaps exemplified most clearly in the vast salaries that many CEOs are paid today, and the need that so many Americans have to work two and three jobs just to have heat and food.
I don't advocate a sort of social redistribution of wealth, but isn't it about time that we all, as Americans, started thinking about our own individual responsibilities for each other? Getting away from so much "me," and heading toward a little more "we."
There are fundamental differences between conservative and liberal philosophies, but a lot of the end goals tend to intersect — it's the means to get there that cause the disputes, often times. On the one hand, we need more of a clash of ideas on all sides to test these means and ends through the refiner's fire of intellectual challenge. But the other hand is a more difficult challenge: how do we come together in the end to get something done? Is that even possible in the current environment?
I ask myself that a lot, but I haven't come up with anything better than this from Digby:
That "majority of the majority" is especially important when looking at this period of Republican rule. In one of the most cynical decisions of their reign (and there have been many) they consciously governed without any support from the opposition, even to the point of scuttling popular bipartisan legislation rather than allowing the opposition to participate in any meaningful way. There has never been a case of partisanship so severe in American history.
Throughout this period they successfully manipulated and co-opted the media in a thousand different ways. Their decades long project to mau-mau the press about its alleged liberal bias and the emergence of rightwing media served to obscure this story as it was unfolding. The leaders of the political media became ensconced in the new Republican political establishment and reflected their attitudes and biases….
This will, I predict, be the latest fad: bipartisan nothingness. Now that the Republicans have successfully moved the political center so far to the right that they drove themselves over the cliff, we must stop all this "partisan bickering" as if the Democrats have been equally partisan and therefore can ask for and expect the right to meet them halfway, which they never, ever do. That means we must let their most heinous ideas congeal into conventional wisdom, let their criminal behavior go unpunished, clean up the global disaster they've created, do the heavy lifting to fix the deficit they caused. While we're fixing things, they'll count their ill-gotten gains, catch their breath and gear up to trash the place all over again.
Modern bipartisanship can be simply defined as Democrats repeatedly getting taken to the cleaners by Republicans. Until the rules of the game are changed it will remain so whether Democrats are in the majority or not….
This time the stakes are so high and the failures so manifest that we cannot allow this zombie revolution to rise again. No matter how tempting it is to let bygones be bygones and get to work to "fix" the problems, the Democrats must recognize that fixing the problem requires discrediting this Republican revolution once and for all. Until that happens, they will keep coming back and each time they do they destroy a little bit more of our democracy.
After yesterday's Republican torture bill Constitutional shredder fest, I'm not remotely close to declaring bygones. Not by a long shot. Bipartisanship only works if both sides are honestly committed to working together. And the Republican Party has a long, long way to go to earn back any trust from me, thank you very much.
But that doesn't mean that I'm willing to sacrifice my principles for revenge either. Which got me thinking this morning — what is it that motivates me as a progressive? What motivates you? What is it, at your core, that keeps you involved in politics — where do you want to see this nation of ours, your community, all of us — go, in the next few years?
Why are you a progressive?
PS — Here's something amusing (not!) for you. While I was finishing this post, Noron cut away from the speech coverage on MSNBC to talk with two members of Congress, and asked the Democratic member to pledge that the Dems would do no investigation of the Bush Administration if they re-gained control of the House because, as Noron characterized it, it would make the last two years of the Bush presidency "a living hell, so to speak." Jeebus. Talk about a weird juxtaposition as I'm adding in the Digby quote.