That's really all I have been able to think about since the weekend the vote went down. I have read, listened, watched, and read again anything I could get my hands on, simply to get my brain free of the disgusting show of (lack-of) leadership the FISA cave-in represents, but alas, blogger vapor-lock set in.
It is a horrible to feel the gusto falter, if only for a moment, from the sails of what I feel is a defining moment in American Political history. I know it is just a speed-bump, but it serves to remind us how fragile this politics gig can be, and how, regardless of what the polls tell us, it is always someone's game to lose.
The FISA vote represents the first big failure since the mid-term, and the frustration and disappointment got to me. Everything I tried to write seethed with angst, and was far from inductive of constructive debate. I know from past experience (and current example) that speaking or writing emotional vitriol serves no purpose but to "Malkin-ize" the discourse.
Then I found this post regarding liberalism's lack of "identity" in the face of a well constructed (if no longer accurate) portrayal of what it means to be a "conservative."
What Free and Cantil discovered then remains true to this day: self-identitified and ideological liberals are a relatively small part of the electorate, while operational liberals are a landslide majority. Conversely, self-identified and ideological conservatives are relatively large groups compared to their liberal counterparts, while operational conservatives are not even a majority among conservatives themselves by either other measure. It makes sense to regard operational conservatism as the core of conservatism for at least three main reasons: First, because it empirically is the core. This is the relatively small group of people who are overwhelmingly conservative by all three measures. Second, because it reflects the actual political agenda of the conservative movement over time-its political leadership, that is. [Snip] ...the distrust of others centered among operational conservatives also explains why demonizing liberals as the "other" comes so naturally to conservatives. They have plenty of practice thinking similar thoughts about lots of other groups of people--all of whom, coincidentally enough, liberals have stood up for when conservatives have attacked them.What you will read in this post, I believe, is the most important challenge the progressive movement faces today, and also gives us a clue as to where we go from here. Why we have failed in the past, and why we will succeed (again) in the (very near) future.
The challenge for liberals/progressives... is how to respond by forging our own identity politics, when (a) we do not have a single cultural identity to cluster around and (b) we have some residual degree of distrust in power-sharing ourselves.
Reading this, I realized there is much work to be done, and I decided to forgive (but not forget) the failure of the FISA vote. With that vote, congress reminded us that there is still room for failure, and it's no time to get cocky. We gotta keep on their asses until the Democratic Party is once again about being Democratic, and being progressive is once again about progress.
Speed bump. That's all.