The Dartmouth Observer

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Sunday, December 05, 2004
State of The Nation

No sooner has Peter Beinart exhorted the left to get serious about the war against militant Islam, a massive article appears in The Nation to prove him, well, correct. Among the twenty-something odd contributors surveyed,
only Michael Lind gets it:
And in a world in which the greatest threat to civilization is the religious right of the Muslim countries, much of the left persists in treating the United States as an evil empire and American patriotism as a variant of fascism.

American progressivism, in its present form, is as obsolete in the twenty-first century as the agrarian populists were in the twentieth. If you can't adapt to the times, good intentions will get you nowhere. Ask the shade of William Jennings Bryan.
One other guy talks about the "moral imperative to ending the Bush war in Iraq," but offers no ideas on how to deal with al-Qaeda. The others, by contrast, are content to cast their eyes elsewhere and offer vague generalizations about the need for change and social justice: reform Social Security (Theda Skocpol); "strengthen institutions that provide the social basis for progressive politics" (Eric Foner); create "a new civil rights movement, a mobilization against the Bush regime, against its nascent totalitarianism, with marches on Washington that will stir the dormant American conscience" (Dartmouth's Susannah Heschel); make human rights "a reality for all" (Mary Robinson); win the Hispanic vote (several contributors); "use our blue-state haven [New York] as a laboratory to grow new alternative policies" (Bertha Lewis and Bob Master); "[attack] the dog-eat-dog ideological assumptions of the new corporate state that now dominate American politics. With our bare hands" (Dan Carter); and so on.

Then there's the usual warning about incipient fascism (NYU professor Troy Duster), and the revelation that "Kerry got beaten in Ohio partly by a nefarious plan that denied Democratic precincts an adequate supply of voting machines." The author of that last statement also encourages the left to "Demonize the Republicans for opposing recounts, suppressing voters and installing insecure e-voting systems with proprietary software owned by partisan companies."

Democrats, liberals, leftists - you can and have to do better than this. (Thank God for Matt Yglesias, Kevin Drum, and Brad Plumer.)