Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Peel off the war paint"

There is something I've been thinking about the last few days that was perfectly captured in this diary at dkos. It purports to be a diary about winning/losing politically.
This is how "winners" behave! They plan and execute the demise of their opponent(s).
S/he then goes on to correctly state that this is currently the Republicans' approach. I agree. But I always find it interesting to watch liberals whine/complain about how Republicans are behaving only to turn around and suggest that Democrats should do the same damned thing.

When I hear things like this, I immediately wonder what the author means by the word "demise." I'm pretty sure that this is not a call for the literal death of all conservatives. And its pretty clear from the context that the author is referring to a negotiating position rather than speaking in the context of electoral defeat.

What comes to mind is an expectation that one political faction could be so heavy-handed in their approach that the other side would eventually cry "uncle" and simply walk away from their positions in shame. I would ask you to contemplate when, in the course of history, people have ever done that.

The most glaring example I can think of that demonstrates the failure of this kind of approach would be to look at the heavy hand of the government of Israel in dealing with the people of Palestine. Has the overwhelming dominance of Israel led to the demise of the position of the Palestinians? Have they been willing to cry "uncle" and let Israel have its way? NO! It has led to a 60 year stalemate of tit-for-tat.

To me, the whole idea of representative democracy is to avoid the use of war (either literally or figuratively) to resolve our differences. Unless you are willing to literally kill every opponent, approaching political differences by trying to execute the demise of your opponents is a recipe for stalemate. That's why this week at his press conference, President Obama said this:
And if you just pull back from the immediate political battles, if you kind of peel off the partisan war paint, then we should be able to get something done.
Winning is NOT about causing the demise of your opponents. Its about getting something done to address the issues we face. That should be our North Star. When we take our eyes off that prize, we lose.


  1. And even if we did manage to defeat and remove every extremist from the US and every state Congress, that would not mean they would all just fold up their collective tent and go away.

    No, the only way defeat them and win, is to have better ideas!

  2. I'm guessing the diarist has never heard of the tea party because he/she is advocating their exact approach and as we've all seen it works out so well.

    1. That is exactly it! Alot of these puritopians want a 'Tea Party of the left'. Another example of this crowd wanting to win arguments instead of elections.


  3. Right! Any strategy that is about the destruction of opponents is something I can't get behind. Leslie Marmon Silko--brilliant Native writer, if you don't know her work--remarked once that all things European would at one point disappear from this land. This provoked ire among some of her white audience. She responded that white people wouldn't disappear. I can get behind that.

    I am really pleased to see Palestine in this discussion, too. Great, great work.


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