Friday, August 15, 2008

If We're Not Doing Social Justice, We're Not the Democratic Party

Get the wooden stake, quick: the Democratic Leadership Council "Let's Be More Like Republicans!" ghoul is trying to rise from the dead.

A big reason that the Democrats won back Congress in 2006 and are likely to keep it in 2008 is nominating and electing socially conservative economic populists like Heath Shuler. More progress. But to create an updated version of the New Deal, the Democrats have to treat economically liberal social conservatives as equal partners, with their own spokesmen and leadership roles in the party, not just as a handful of swing voters brought on reluctantly at the last moment.

You know what a "socially conservative economic populist" is? It's a sex-hating Comstockian who makes you pay for the privilege of being black, female or gay in their white, straight male paradise. Heath Shuler? Make that "their white, straight, STUPID male paradise."

(More after the jump.)

Remember when Democrats were pure economic populists and didn't sully their majority popularity with messy social liberalism?

You know, the 1950s:

  • when coloreds knew their place in the back of the bus and were happy to have a seat at all
  • when women stayed barefoot and pregnant
  • when gays were beaten and murdered
  • when the only birth control was a coat hanger in a dirty alley
  • when nobody cared how much you beat your wife and fucked your kids as long as you kept it behind closed doors
The determined stand against that cramped, ugly world first taken by courageous Democrats in the 1960s may have lost them popularity, but it was a price they paid willingly.

"We've lost the South for a generation," LBJ said when he signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965. He knew what standing tall for Civil Rights and Doing The Right Thing would do to the Democratic Party, and he did it anyway.

As did Democratic politicians throughout the sixties, seventies and eighties, sacrificing themselves and their party's White House hopes in order to ensure that people could live where they want, love whom they please, reproduce willingly, worship - or not - unmolested, get equal opportunity at good schools and jobs, live free of fear for their personal safety.

Show me a Democrat who claims to value the economic safety net over civil rights, reproductive freedom and social justice, and I'll show you a Republican who's picking your pocket while reciting Bible verses.

You cannot BE a true economic populist if you don't value individual freedom. And you can't value individual freedom if you're a social conservative.

Hate is not a family value, and above all things social conservatives hate. They hate everyone and everything who is not exactly like them: their race, their religion, their economic niche, their educational level, their neighborhood, their sexual preference, their favorite TV shows.

Social conservatives are antithetical to all social, scientific, political and economic progress. Social conservatives, as William F. Buckley so perfectly described them: "stand athwart history and shout "Stop!"

Like that supposed "socially conservative economic populist" Mike Huckabee. Ever actually read Mike Huckabee's political philosophy? He doesn't want to go back to the 1950s; he wants to go back to the 950s, when the king's word was law, serfs knew their place, and disobedient children and wives were stoned to death. A place where John McCain would be right at home.

Article author Michael Lind, who has apparently spent the last 15 years in a cave, says:

Social conservatives, having lost the culture war, should be offered not only a truce but also an opportunity to join a broad economic campaign for a middle-class America, as many of them did between 1932 and 1968. When pro-choicers and pro-lifers unite in cheering the public investment and living wage planks at the convention of the neo-Roosevelt party, we will know that the political era that began in 1968 is truly and finally over.

Michael, wake up: the mid-century New Dealers that you are calling "social conservatives" are extinct. They had nothing in common with the social conservatives of today's rethuglican party. Comparing the two is like comparing the pro-slavery "Democrats" of the decade before the Civil War with the Democrats who chose Barack Obama to be the next president.

Today's social conservatives will never, never, NEVER "cheer public investment and the living wage." Any more than plantation owners in 1860 South Carolina would have voted for Abraham Lincoln.

And every minute, every dime, every electron wasted pretending otherwise is political suicide.

While social conservatives may have "lost the culture war" in New York City or wherever the hell Lind lives, they're basking in victory out here in the real world, where blacks are quietly redlined out of the best neighborhoods and schools, gays are fired without consequence, children are forced to join group prayers in school, pharmacists refuse to dispense birth control, and only burka-wearing virgins can be raped.

Salon commenter Buzz Lightyear nailed it:

What's the point of greater economic equality if it doesn't lead to a better and more just society?

That's what made the 1960s so special and why the Democratic party transformed from the party of Roosevelt to the party of McGovern.

Once people had enough money in their pockets, they started looking around to see how to they could make the world better. Ending a pointless war in Southeast Asia and ending the oppression of racial minorities were obvious ways of doing that.

Of course, the power structure couldn't have that, so the 40-year-long War on The Middle Class was enacted so that the common folk would be too busy worrying about their economic security to have the energy to sustain social change.

You want the nation that won World War II, brought 30 years of prosperity and established social justice back? Vote for Liberals.

And tell Michael Lind, the DLC and their "social conservative" friends to stay the fuck away from Real Democrats.

Cross-posted at Blue in the Bluegrass.