Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Romney and the "Gifts" statement

That statement, being that Obama won because he promised "gifts" to minorities, women, and young people, demonstrates how out of touch he is with the current state of the Democratic Party. What many conservatives don't realize is that the Democratic Party that used to be more comfortable with entitlement programs without critically evaluating them is no more. Instead, progressive democrats still support entitlement programs, but in my experience the vast majority of them do so in ways where the reasoning has been shifted to counter conservative critiques of the same.

In a way, the conservatives, while not winning, at least made their point, in that progressive thought, as it exists now, started out fighting from a position that was kind of on the ropes. The progressive writing and thought that's prevalent now started out not from the position of dominance that liberal thought in the early '80s inherited from the '70s and '60s, but from being completely and totally criticized throughout the Reagan-Bush era and abandoned to centrism by the Democratic party in the Clinton era. What's called Progressive thought now had to justify itself both against conservatives who were against any sort of programs whatsoever and against people from the liberal party in power itself who believed that "the era of big government is over". Because of this, progressive thought is much stronger and more consistent than liberal thought at the end of the '70s was.

You can see it as the thesis, '70s thought, being opposed by the anti-thesis, Reaganism, and the latter being opposed by another anti-thesis, leading to a return to the original position altered and wisened by the encounter.

Which is why so much of the rhetoric of the Rush Limbaugh's of the world is regarded as just absurd by many progressives. Limbaugh and company, and Romney with his "gifts" statement, are feeding on stereotypes that haven't been true about progressive democrats for twelve years, with the 2000 election being the watershed year where many folks abandoned the mainstream democratic party in order to pursue a more progressive agenda. It's not like there aren't folks out there who still expect the government to compensate them for everything without demanding any sort of change on their own part, but I would doubt that many progressives would take the demand at face value these days.

Obama, for his part, seems to completely understand this new position, and his actual statements during the debates had no trace of the "entitlement mentality" that folks are now accusing him of using to get votes. In fact, probably because of being Africa-American, I think he avoided anything that could possibly look like that in a way that went a little bit too far. But in any case, what you have with Obama's ideological positions and with those of many, probably most, progressive democrats is a far cry away from the late '70s, where when folks wanted more welfare and more entitlement programs democrats would kind of just give in without really considering the overall rightness, justice, or social impact of those programs on the country as a whole.

No comments: