This is my whole theory of politics (liberal and otherwise). The fringes come up with ideas and fight for them wholeheartedly, even against others in their own party, while the moderates make those ideas more palatable to the voting center by negotiating with their "equal but opposite mirror images" on other side.And while I understand what he's saying and see that sort of formulation often, I don't think that's the proper way of seeing our political system. Because first off, a lot of the fringe ideas really are crazy. It's not about making them more palatable to the rest of America, but about ignoring them in hopes they'll go away.
And the reality is that there are a lot of non-fringe people who have plenty of good ideas and really do believe in what they're doing. Ted Kennedy wasn't dragged to the left; nor was he on the fringe. And I fail to see what Kennedy would have agreed to that Obama wouldn't have. The fringe might be louder, but that doesn't mean they're more pure in their beliefs. And as I keep arguing, I believe the fringe to be far MORE political than the moderates. For them, policy is a side-effect of the fighting; not the point of it. They'll take a bloody fight over a policy victory any time.
And that's why when they complain about Obama, they're forced to ignore all the good things he's done. Rescission was a horrible practice that all good progressives knew to hate. Yet, now that Obama has ended it, they don't seem to mention it at all. Because they cared more about the fight than the policy.
My Theory of Political Peoples
Here's my theory of all this: There are activists and there are rulers. Activists are good at fighting and rulers are good at ruling. When we're in the minority, we need activists to fight as the rulers can't do much of anything. But when we're in the majority, the activists need to step aside and let the rulers rule, because at that time, shouting and waving signs is useless or even counter-productive. So just as the rulers are useless when they can't rule, the activists are useless when they can't activate. (Yes, that's an odd way of putting it, but I just liked the symmetry.)
But unfortunately, the activists don't step aside when it's time to get shit done. Instead, they go right ahead and attack the rulers again. And any time the rulers stray in any way from what the activists want, they consider it to be heresy and attack. And it doesn't matter if the activists are progressives or Tea Partiers or civil rights advocates or racist thugs; activists are activists and that's all they know how to do.
Because for as much as they imagine they're trying to keep the rulers pure by keeping their feet to the fire, the reality is that they're angry because that's what they do: Be angry. That gives them purpose. And if you elect these people as leaders, they'll either "sell out" by acting the way rulers act, or they'll do an entirely shitty job because they're in WAAAY over their heads and didn't understand the first thing about ruling.
That's what we keep seeing from Republicans, as they're great at being pure to their cause, yet don't know much about getting shit done. And that's because the Republican Party has been over-run with activists for a long time and it keeps getting worse. Yes, they're good at saying "no," but saying "no" is the easy part. The hard part is getting to "yes."
And again, it must be stressed that progressives didn't just start hating Obama. Progressives hated Clinton. And they hated Carter. And they really hated LBJ. It's only in hindsight that they laud these people as heroes. The far-left ALWAYS hates whoever's in power. Dem presidents are all spineless sell-outs until they leave office, and a few years later, once all their victories set in, you'll start hearing about what great people Democratic presidents are.
How We'll All Just Get Along
And so, no, I don't buy into the idea that activists keep the politicos pure. I mean, if they wanted to push the political discussion to the left, then why do they focus their wrath on Obama? Surely a far-leftie would hate the far-righties more, right? But no, while liberals like myself try to focus on what Republicans are doing wrong, progressives will insist that Obama is to blame for all this, because he's not fighting enough; unaware that that's not what he's supposed to be doing.
My only hope at this point is that the majority of these people will feel that our defeat in November was enough of a message and will get back to attacking the real problem. Or at a minimum, they'll focus on all the batshit crazy things the Republican House will be doing and ignore Obama all together. After all, Obama's not likely to be able to sell anything out for the next two years, so there won't be a lot for them to complain about.
So here's to hoping that we'll all be on the same team heading into 2012. Not with progressives shouting at Obama for not being pure enough, but shouting at Republicans for screwing with our country all the time. That's how we did it before and I'm fairly confident it'll work for us again.