Monday, January 14, 2008

Why Obama's Pledge to End the Culture War is Nuts

Over at The Sideshow, Avedon Carol links to a column by Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) in which he weighs in on Obama's naïve and arrogant claim that an Obama presidency would somehow result in a merging of the red and blue states, while the election of Hillary Clinton would take the country back to the bitterly partisan years of the 1960s and 1990s:

I think it is important to express my discomfort with a major theme of Senator Obama's campaign. I am referring to his denigration of "the Washington battles of the 1990's" and, usually implicitly but sometimes explicitly, of those who fought them.

I agree that it would have been better not to have had to fight over some of the issues that occupied us in the nineties. But there would have been only one way to avoid them - and that would have been to give up. More importantly, the only way I can think of to avoid "refighting the same fights we had in the 1990's", to quote Senator Obama, is to let our opponents win these fights without a struggle.

Avedon adds the finishing touches to Barney Frank's argument, reminds us of what's at stake and of the inherent dangers that lie in Obama's ahistorical stance:

The idea that Democrats/liberals/"the left" have been one-sidedly re-fighting old fights for no apparent reason is a popular one in right-wing (and therefore "centrist") rhetoric. They like to pretend that these are "old fights" from the '60s or the '90s, but let's be clear: These fights have been going on as long as there has been a United States. They may take different forms depending on the fashions of the moment, but there have always been women saying, "Remember the ladies." There have always been people saying we should have free public education, equality for all under the law, government that exists to promote the public welfare and our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - and those who have consistently opposed the very idea of a free and democratic republic constituted by, for, and of the People. We're the Americans, and they're the Tories. We have no choice but to fight them.

Read more . . .

For more on why Obama's "post-partisan narrative" is fundamentally nuts, see Paul Rosenberg's, "An End To The Culture Wars? Survey Says--Not So Much" over at Open Left.

Graphic via Project for the OLD American Century