I, like Mark Schmitt and Kevin Drum have read The Politics of Polarization.
I happen to have read it though, at the time I heard about "What's the Matter with What's the Matter in Kansas," or at least the summary presented in Common Dreams. Those 2 things deserve to be read together...
So here's my synthesis and critique of all of the above:
- When the authors of Polarization say:
Stop hiding behind domestic policy and honestly confront the biggest issue
of our time: national defense, and especially the use of military force.
...Democrats must emphasize the importance of the American military as a potential
force for good in the world, and in so doing they need to engage “Michael Moore
Democrats,” who instinctively view American power as suspect.
This is quite wrong, right there, and that gets my radar up. I know very few "Michael Moore Democrats." I suspect Michael Moore is not a "Michael Moore Democrat."
Democrats need to confront, perhaps this smear by the right, but a smear it most definitely is. I for one think the Republicans are dangerous to our defense precisely because they are so quick to deploy and use force for imperial ends. But we have no need to do that. We do need to defend ourselves, and to do so in a fashion that makes sense. We need to address our strategic weaknesses, oil dependency and health care dependency on foreign countries chief among them.
But if somebody attacks us, we should respond. Going after Saddam was an act of mendacity, not bravery. Letting bin Laden go was being weak on defense. The Republicans are guilty of that charge.
- When the authors say,
Show tolerance and common sense on hot-button social issues.
They say "don't back gay marriage," and of course Kerry didn't and Clinton didn't. This much is true:
At the same time, Democrats must paint a clear picture of Republican extremists, who advocate a level of government intrusion into people’s lives that conflicts with their desire to be left alone.
- When they say, "Support an economic policy that embraces global competition and a modernized social safety net that protects American workers in a vibrant and churning economy," I would say, ripping a page from Gingrich: be futurist, be passionately for human rights, for the environment, and understand the interconnectedness of things: Say "peak oil," call the Republicans on their atavistic response to bird flu, etc.
- The closest thing that the authors of Polarization get to my final topic here is "Finally, Democrats have to pay more attention to the very personal quality of elections, especially presidential elections, in the media age," which while worth reading ignores the current golden opportunity presented by Frist, De Lay, Rove et al. as alluded to by Kos here: political corruption is the new abortion and being weak on defense rolled into one. Look at a commercial like this:
Voice over w/ black and white "historical" photos and video framed on a black background: The Roman Empire...The French Bourbon dynasty...Argentina....all these governments declined and fell because at least in part of rampant corruption...
You get the picture. Corruption in government can be "Willie Hortoned," and be used to get the populace up in arms over the current state of affairs: but only if we have an articulate and disciplined vision of being against corruption. We need specific policies that wedge Repubs, and keep government honest.
This also syncs with what I read in the summary of WTMWWTMIK, by Katrina vanden Heuvel in The Nation.
Moral people should be morally outraged at what's going on in Washington with the Repubs. The meme propagated must be "who cares about abortion?" We'll all get bird flu in the Repubs continue in power. Because it's true.