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September 21, 2005

There's Stuff On The Internet!!!

Professor William Domhoff at UC-Santa Cruz has a new website. It's based on and extends his book Who Rules America?.

Domhoff is also the author of Changing the Powers that Be: How the Left Can Stop Losing and Win. Don't miss the first Amazon review, which is by a certain David Swanson.

UPDATE: Here's a great quote from Who Rules America? It's from a 1788 letter home from Thomas Shippen, a rich young man from Philadelphia, who was visiting the French court at Versailles:

...a certain degree of equality is essential to human bliss. Happy above all Countries is our Country, where that equality is found, without destroying the necessary subordination.
Posted at September 21, 2005 07:42 AM | TrackBack

The Amazon review by David Swanson is mostly just a collection of the same misdirected, misguided Nader-blaming that occupied confused liberals for nearly all of 2004. Swanson does at least avoid the hatefulness and vituperation that were so common of "repentant" Nader voters then, but he's singing their song nevertheless.

Were you just citing it because of your fondness for David Swanson? Or do you actually endorse what he's putting forward there?

I ask because I remember scanning your blog archives once to see where you stood on the Nader issue (in both rounds), and having a hard time sussing it out. I'd be disappointed to find out that you were yet another progressive who blamed Nader for the abject failures of the Democratic Party.

Posted by: Potentially Disappointed at September 21, 2005 12:16 PM

Jon's too smart to fall into the selective memory practised by the blame Nader first crowd. What I think Jon likes about Swanson's review is the case that Nader running in the Dem primaries would have been more effective. Jon wants force the cretin capitalist faction out of the Dem party leadership. The theory goes that a big turnout for Nader within the party would have diminshed their influence. I highly doubt that. The DLC and the New Dems would rather lose elections than accommodate the left wing of their party.

I'll never forgive Jon for being in league with the Rotarians, but in all else he's blameless.

Posted by: Harry at September 21, 2005 02:48 PM

Potentially Disappointed,

Don't worry—I would never blame Nader, of all people, for the abject failures of the Democratic party. In fact, those failures are so gigantic I don't think you could fit all the blame on top of a million people, much less one. Moreover, I voted for Nader in 2000, gave him money, went to his rallies, etc., and don't regret it at all.

That said, I (1) disagree with your characterization of what David S. wrote, and (2) don't think what he wrote can be dismissed out of hand. This is a really complicated issue where dogmatism should be avoided. Based on what I've seen with my own three eyes, I do believe it may be possible to turn the Democrats into a genuine progressive party. That's mostly because the Democratic party barely exists.

Also, I'm not convinced that a third party could do any better, even without the gigantic barriers that exist in America. To the degree there is such a thing as the Democratic party, it sucks for strutural reasons, not just because they're bad individuals. If the Democrats collapsed and the Greens (or whoever) took their place with nicer people but the same societal struture, the Greens would suck just as hard.

So, while I'm not convinced it's possible to reform the Democrats, I really, truly think it should be taken seriously. True, it's never been possible before, but conditions are very different now than previously. Attempting it might be the least-bad option we have.

Or not.


Of course I agree the DLC would prefer to lose elections than let the party move left. But I also think you overestimate their power. Frankly, if progressives can't get their act together to kick them to the curb, progressives are not going to organize a third party with any real power.

Also: don't think I didn't notice your shameless Rotary-themed smear. That's exactly the kind of thing I'd expect from crypto-Rotarians like yourself.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at September 21, 2005 11:02 PM

You voted for Nader?

I haven't been this disappointed since I found out that They Were, In Fact, Just Windmills.

Posted by: Sully at September 22, 2005 12:09 AM
You voted for Nader?

I haven't been this disappointed since I found out that They Were, In Fact, Just Windmills.

Geez, there's no satisfying you people. What does a small, grumpy website have to do?

He has an appointment with the Big Wheel.

As do you, Mr. Rotary! Of course, the difference—the crucial difference—between my side and yours is that we spin the wheel in the other direction.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at September 22, 2005 07:05 AM

Jon, my approach to the Dems is based on the theory that party Dems outside the circle of weasels will rally to their defense. In other words, the good Dems would -- with great relutance -- step up for a Joe Lieberman or a John Kerry in the sincere belief they were keeping things from getting worse.

Posted by: Harry at September 22, 2005 03:19 PM


Glad to see you're refreshingly sane on this topic. And I agree that it's a complex issue, although it didn't appear to be complex for the millions of Kerry voters who agreed with nearly every position Nader took, but excoriated him nonetheless...while throwing their support behind a candidate whose only redeeming feature was that he wasn't George Bush (if you comb through their DNA gene by gene, anyway--it was difficult to discern a meaningful difference otherwise).

But, the part of your response I most agree with is "or not." I don't think it's possible to reform the Democratic party at this point. It may have been possible before the 2004 election--there was still a slim chance, anyway. But progressives who threw their support to Kerry despite the plethora of Bush-like positions he was spouting have, in my opinion, basically killed that possibility. Kerry needed to lose by much more than 3 million votes for their to be any chance of the Democrats learning the right lesson from the election. He did at least lose--that's the one (bitter, ironic) bright spot in the election--but it was close enough that the DLC can still get Democratic front-runners like Hillary Clinton to work from their talking points.

Anyway, I was Potentially Disappointed, but now you have my Sincere (Yet Still Slightly Guarded) Approbation.

Posted by: John Caruso (no longer Potentially Disappointed) at September 23, 2005 02:30 AM