Sawicky: unity focus makes Obama the DLC Candidate
by Neil the Ethical Werewolf, Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 11:42:43 AM EDT
Max Sawicky, who works for the progressive Economic Policy Institute, had this to say about Obama's theme of unity yesterday:
The last thing we need, at a point where the Democrats can establish a decisive margin of political power, is somebody out to unify the country. I fear that Senator Obama is turning into the DLC candidate, in all but name.
Harsh words, but they connect to the biggest thing that bothers me about Obama -- his focus on unifying the country through compromise at a historical moment when Democrats are uniquely positioned to pass massive progressive reforms. I don't want unity. I want to crush Republicans so we can pass all the major left-wing reforms that America needs, and that they'll never vote for.
There are ways in which the "DLC candidate" label isn't apt -- Obama doesn't beat up on his fellow Democrats like Al From does. The similarity Sawicky finds, though, is that Obama's focus on unity threatens to pull him towards the center, at the time when centrism is the last thing we need.
Take a look at who will be up for election in the Senate over the next three elections:
Year Dem Rep
2008 12 22
2010 15 19
2012 24 9
With so many more Republicans vulnerable than Democrats in '08 and '10, we have a wonderful opportunity to accumulate a massive Senate majority and pass spectacular left-wing policies. Even centrists like Stuart Rothenberg have said that a 60-seat, filibuster-proof Senate majority isn't out of reach. But our Senate majority is likely to get a lot smaller when 2012 comes around, just because of the election schedule.
The next four years are not the time to make grand deals that unify the country around something that Republicans and the corporations that fund them can accept. It's time to take advantage of the once-in-a-generation opportunity the Senate calendar gives us, and pass things like universal health care, public financing of campaigns, and massive global antipoverty spending.
And that gets me back to what Sawicky says: "The market and the private sector, a.k.a. corporations, are the problem, not the solution. They need to be beaten down, or if you prefer bureaucratese, properly regulated." When this happens, it won't look like a great moment of national unity. Corporations will be fighting tooth and nail against it. It'll look like a bloody victory for the Democratic party.
If you want to convince me that Barack Obama is the man for our times, you'll have to convince me that his theme of unity is just a big and wonderful scam -- that he's peddling the sweet words of unity and compromise so that he can get Mitch McConnell's guard down, and then drive the knife into his back. Because if he's serious about unity, he's not going to be able to bring about the kind of changes that our country requires.