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From a Lefty: Five Things the Right Is Doing Right

4 years ago
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For nearly two years, the Democrats have controlled the House, the Senate, the presidency and two new judicial appointments to the Supreme Court.

So why does it feel like the Democrats lost in 2008?

I think it's because the Democrats have turned losing into an art form. You know how they say a good dancer makes it look easy? That's the Dems. They make winning look like losing, and losing look like the eternal hell-fires of damnation.

The left could learn a few things from the right. To wit:

1) The right talks to average people.

Even unabashed progressive Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) thought that it was smart to talk to the people. A while back he went to a Tea Party to see what all the fuss was about. His takeaway was that the Tea Partiers felt pushed aside and forgotten by their government.


In the last three decades, the middle class has been trampled and is currently on life support. Families that have never before had trouble are homeless and bankrupt. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman recently laid it all out in "This Is Not a Recovery."

Krugman begs for government action before the economy gets any worse, but a reader makes this salient point: "As enlightening as your commentary always is, it assumes that policy makers have the interest of the average American, and in particular the unemployed, at heart."

The pernicious influence of lobbyists and big donors is well documented and, by now, firmly entrenched. Woe is us.

Since the Democrats are in up to their necks in fundraising, just like the Republicans, I suspect action is out of the question for either party. But talking? Republicans win by a country mile.

2) The right is putting moves on every female with an ounce of political ambition.

Anna Holmes, founding editor of jezebel.com, and Rebecca Traister, author of the forthcoming book "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election That Changed Everything for American Women," make this point in "A Palin of Our Own."
Sure, the Grizzlies sound somewhat progressive on paper. But from their opposition to reproductive rights to their work against health care reform and labor policies that would empower American women, their ideas are just antiquated clichés dressed up in designer suits. Like Ms. Palin herself, their talk about being 'mama bears' and 'tough as an ox . . . wearing lipstick' simply reduces female candidates' political prospects to maternal worth and sex appeal.
But Holmes and Traister don't let Democrats off the hook. Look, they say, at the way Hillary Clinton was treated by her own party: "Indeed, [Clinton] is most appreciated when she plays well with others in the Senate or the State Department; when she behaves like a fierce competitor, she is compared to Glenn Close's bunny-boiling virago from 'Fatal Attraction.' "

So what's the deal, Democrats? Spinal problems again? You know what they say: If you want to be loved, you gotta love yourself first.

3) The right is talking the talk with minorities. Occasionally they even walk the walk. Remember this tender John McCain moment?

4) When the right tells lies, they do so in plain language, not bureaucratic mumbo jumbo. Obama is not an American citizen! There -- simple. Glad that's settled.

The mush-mouths in Obama's circle of money men are insufferable. Banks are kicking homeowners to the curb and the unemployed will soon begin their second or even third year of job hunting. And what's the verdict from Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve? Just a few days ago, he came down from the mountains of Jackson Hole, Wyo., to address the American people:
Falling into deflation is not a significant risk for the United States at this time, but that is true in part because the public understands that the Federal Reserve will be vigilant and proactive in addressing significant further disinflation. It is worthwhile to note that, if deflation risks were to increase, the benefit-cost trade-offs of some of our policy tools could become significantly more favorable.
Say what?

I think Mr. Bernanke was really saying: You're hosed. While there are things the Federal Reserve can do, none of them will help. If they did, we'd have done them by now. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some hot chocolate waiting for me in the lodge.

5) The right acts like they own the American narrative.

Why? Because they do own it. And possession is nine-tenths of the law.

The Republican party used to be the home of libertarians and businessmen, but in the 1960s that message lost its mojo. As they flailed around for an alternative, they came across freedom, honor, sacrifice, integrity and love thy neighbor just dumped out on the lawn at the Democratic yard sale.

I read Sarah Palin's D.C. rally speech about the three soldiers who stood in harm's way and lived to tell the tale. It's impossible to be unmoved by stories like these. But I've written such stories myself, and any Democratic firefighter or cop in New York City could claim the exact same motives for their work.

Brotherhood, sisterhood, the desire to protect the weak and the longing to make the world a better place isn't about being a Republican or Democrat, or even American. It's about being a decent human being.

There's no question that our country is deeply divided. You may find yourself wondering how so many respectable, intelligent people could be so fiercely on opposite sides of an issue.

Author and geneticist Spencer Wells has a theory that dates back to our hunter-gatherer roots. Our brains are hardwired to take off at the first sign of trouble, Wells explains. Nature designed us to live in groups of about 150. More than that, and we flip out to greater or lesser degrees.

Responding to an article on our foundering economy, a Slate.com reader advised: "[Beware] shifts in political power following the economic earthquake. Our debt binge transferred billions from ordinary taxpayers to the wealthy, and from democracies to totalitarian states. It's made politics less rational as people get more upset. It's given Western democracies less room to maneuver in policy terms, reduced our soft and hard power, made us more vulnerable to crises."

If you really listen to the left and the right, you'll conclude both sides feel abandoned and dismissed by our government. Neither side believes they have a place at the table, no matter which party is in power.

What if people on the left and the right feel powerless not because of propaganda, not because of hate radio, not because of liberal media, but rather because they sense it's the truth?

Click here to follow Donna Trussell on Twitter.

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122 Comments

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bob

As government expands, freedom shrinks. As freedom shrinks, free enterprise fails. As free enterprise fails, poverty creates voters who must rely on government. Those of us who cherish the right to succeed or fail on our own merits will vote for any candidate who promotes lower taxes and reducing the size of local, state and federal governments but we are rapidly losing ground to those who truly believe that big brother will take care of them.

September 20 2010 at 6:51 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Heidi

Wonderful article,as usual,Donna! Your last sentence said it all...

September 04 2010 at 9:58 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
tnickerson08

Why is it that liberals are looking at what the Republicans are doing right, not what the democrats are doing wrong?

September 04 2010 at 5:19 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply
tnickerson08

I wonder if the "lefty's" think the country is headed in the right direction now; since they claimed the country was headed in the wrong direction during Bush?

September 04 2010 at 5:17 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
jbarry40

Working Class white voters are the missing part, they been losing ground for 20 years but the right has been keeping them from seeing it,the Democratic party has not made any use of this ( in any way that the Working class white voter would hear) add to it the over all weak job the party has done and we only have our selfs to blame for the out come.

September 03 2010 at 2:35 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
ddysright

we can not force people to pay for what should be charitable donations. Our policies of trying to force the rich to pay for intittlements has dumped all of the financial burdens on the working man. The rich still get richer and the poor still get poorer!

September 03 2010 at 1:17 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
ddysright

Let me ask a question. Are we better off today than when Obama took office? Will the dollar bill crash under all of the Obama spending? Will we ever bounce back and have enough jobs to support the American people with our current policies of buy cheap from overseas and hire cheap imigrate labor?

September 03 2010 at 12:57 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to ddysright's comment
commandant

ddysright - no, yes & we won't bounce back - it will be a crawl 10 to 25 years

September 03 2010 at 1:16 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
suddencall

We are better off, but Obama is still struggling with a republican majority in the house and Senate,because of blue dog Democrats ( republicans ) that side with republicans and do not want the economy to improve until they wreck the safety net in this country. Obama has not spent enough money he needs a make work program and he needs it now. the reason the budget is in debt is republican not democrat. If you vote more republicans in in November you will be doing more harm and likely will lose your republic entirely.Then you will be a slave man ,not a free man.

September 20 2010 at 9:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dupree507

Our politians have turned the American Dream into a nightmare. Our own idependance is the price we are paying for these leaders actions. America needs to wake up and refuse the corruption and lack of ethics our leaders have sold us on. We need to stand up for our independance once again and regain our self dignity. At what cost is your independance ? Your Independance ? We have as a whole become dependant on a political power grab and we are all losing. Its time to take our country back. Lets not forget that the GOVERMENT is "We the People"

September 03 2010 at 12:44 PM Report abuse +19 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dupree507's comment
REEDWIRELINE

the "American" dream is not a nightmare...nor is it dead, but it will GO WHERE IT IS WELCOME...economic freedom is rapidly becoming the call of those who have been CONTROLLED and along with this comes the responsibility to not let thier GOVERNMENT'S help them TO DEATH...as has been noted ...I CAN'T AFFORD ANY MORE US GOV. "HELP" ????????

September 04 2010 at 9:33 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
dgframer

"His takeaway was that the Tea Partiers felt pushed aside and forgotten by their government." That is a statement that deserves a follow-up "Why?" Could it be that congress has passed laws for Americans while exempting themselves? For years both parties have done this as well as passed raises for their jobs. I understand that the pay raises do not go into effect right away, but tell me that Kennedy did not vote himself a raise as well as any long serving republican. What about the fact that they get a paycheck for life after as little as six years on the job? What about the fact that the latest health care reform is good for all Americans, but congress exempted themselves for a better taxpayer funded program? When Barnie Frank asked at a town hall, "Don't you trust us?", I waited for someone there to shout "NO!" Someone may have, but it was not shown on TV. I will answer now. If you are asking if we trust that you have the best interest of this country at heart, my answer is NO! If you are asking if I trust you as much as I trust wall street, the answer is yes. I believe both groups are full of self-serving people that will do whatever they can to screw the American people.

September 03 2010 at 12:42 PM Report abuse +11 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

wlm15411:42 AM Sep 3, 2010 I think its funny how americans forget so fast that the bush 8 yrs is what got us into this mess and its very hard to get out of. At least Oboma is standing up to the big shots who bush caved in to. *********** Oh, you mean like the banks, car companies and labor unions?...

September 03 2010 at 12:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Rob & Kathy's comment
amndamay

I love it when people use Bush as an excuse for obamas actions. Perfect.

September 03 2010 at 2:16 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply

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