It's not as if I'm jumping up and down with joy over the current state of the Democratic party. With important exceptions (minimum wage, gun control, single payer health insurance, immigration reform), more and more I find myself to the right of center of my party, and well beyond those who shout the loudest within it. On trade, on economic growth, on an all-of the-above-energy policy, on comprehensive tax reform I barely qualify as a Dem at all. And as far doing anything about inequality, I think the liberal schemes for redistribution are as likely to be as ineffective as conservative fantasies for growth. Every time I read through the comments section of David Brooks' columns I'm filled with disgust for those so blinded by hate that they can't even listen to what the man is actually saying.
So why don't I cross over to the other side, you might ask,. Why not end all the confusion and hypocrisy and at least vote my self interest? Why go on throwing in my lot with folks who resent people like me (and you)?
It's all well and good to believe that government is too big, that self reliance is the truest virtue, that self interest serves the collective good, and that change should be considered with a healthy dose of skepticism. Those ideas we will continue to debate and and agree on with a frequency that perhaps surprises us both. It's quite another to consistently pander to the worst instincts of a body politic, and to do so with such relentlessness and cynicism. From the Southern Strategy to Philadelphia. Mississippi to welfare queens to Willie Horton, Republican candidates have been blowing the dog whistle of bigotry for as long as I can remember. The irony that the people who hear the dog whistle most clearly used to be Democrats is not lost on me. It doesn't excuse it. It's wrong, and the entire country (and maybe even the Republican Party) would be better off if it stopped.
The extremes on either side don't offer much of an answer, just a bunch of cheap polemics that may satisfy their fans but not much in the plausible way out of the thicket we're in.