Friday, September 24, 2010

Taking The Marbles and Going Home

David Kurtz at TPM tries to put the current Democratic crisis of courage in perspective.

I know it’s cathartic to howl at the moon, and in most cases it’s just a heat of the moment reaction. But the “take my marbles and go home” crowd has always struck me as peculiarly both overinvested and underinvested in politics: overinvested in the way a rabid sports fan’s mood rises and falls with the fate of the hometown team; underinvested in that they go from supposedly caring so much it makes their hearts ache to washing their hands of politics entirely.

What I think it speaks to is a lack of control. A helpless feeling washes over people who care passionately about the issues that confront the country but who, because of the demands of work and family, are limited in how involved they can be politically. They have their vote and in some cases they have some disposable income to give to campaigns. But they don’t have much of a voice, certainly not a loud or influential voice. In casting about for some way to exert more control, a take it or leave it mentality starts to seem like a viable option.

I don’t have any silver bullet to offer. Politics is a long hard slog, with frequent reversals. It’s about making the best decision from among the available choices. Often the available choices, as they say in political science circles, suck. The fact that political successes are so rare and fleeting is what makes them so glorious. But you have to gut it out through the lean times. No guts, no glory.

Mr. Kurtz got some pretty angry responses to his post, calling him “condescending” and “ludicrous,” and explaining why they were done here. But as I said in my previous post, it’s not about what the party or the White House is doing; it’s about what you’re doing. And, by the way, have you considered the alternative? Do you really think that letting people like Sharron Angle or Ken Buck or Carl Paladino try their hand at governing is worth it because you got pissed off? We still have echoes of 1994 ringing in our ears.

That said, it doesn’t help when it seems like the Democrats and the White House are drawing their inspiration for policy and election strategy from watching re-runs of The West Wing on Bravo. On the other hand, it’s better than 24.