2010/10/14

Taking triangulation too far

In 1992, Bill Clinton picked a fight with Sister Souljah, a little-known rap singer. Clinton was deliberately throwing the community of African-American activists under the bus in order to ingratiate himself with wealthier and more powerful constituencies. Clinton continued to triangulate against one group or another. It's far from clear that this practice strengthened the Democratic brand. I and many other progressives noticed at the time that the Republicans never did this. It really bothered me and many others that there were, according to the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), "good" and "bad" Democrats. In fact, the Democratic brand was so weak by 2002 that the party actually lost seats in a mid-term election. Normally, the party out of power picks up seats in a mid-term.

Democratic fortunes began changing in 2004 when unapologetic progressives began muscling the triangulators of the DLC aside and spoke of their fellow Democrats as trusted and honored partners. 2006 and 2008 were very good years for Democrats as progressives were firmly in the drivers' seat and triangulation was a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, triangulation appears to be making a comeback. It's far worse now than it ever was under Clinton as now, conservative Democrats are openly disrespecting the Speaker of the House. This strikes me as a really, REALLY bad idea! It was really bad when Clinton disrespected powerless groups as that strategy hurt Democratic unity and muddled any message Democrats might have had, but when regular Representatives advertise how independent from the Speaker they are, WTF!?!?!?! This just sounds like the most horribly anti-unity and anti-common cause strategy I ever heard of.

Far better, in my humble opinion, to have a smaller party of people who are actually together on the issues and who are truly together because they have many beliefs in common rather than to have people who band together merely because they can pursue their own separate agendas more effectively with a "D" after their name than with an "R."

No comments: