Wednesday, November 17, 2004

How to Be an Opposition Party

Great comments by Matt Stoller in How to Be an Opposition Party.

Currently, the pitiful candidate Kerry is busy setting himself up for 2008 by shitting on the base operatives striving to have every vote count.  This is a mistake.  When you are in opposition, every ally is important, and you do not sacrifice allies to stay in game, because you are not in the game.  Kerry and many Senate Democrats do not understand this.  They are not players anymore.  

Kevin Brennan and Ian Welsh, two brilliant Canadians who have a deep interest in American politics, lay this out.  In Learn How to Lose, Kevin shows that there is a right way to lose that scores you points in later elections, and a wrong way to lose that just fosters the perception of ineffectiveness.  In The Bright Red Line, Ian talks about the battles that need to be fought and filibustered, the things upon which we cannot compromise or we lose the American polity for a generation.

In other words, being an effective opposition is about resisting structural changes that tilt the playing field away from you while allowing the governing party to enact policies you do not agree with, all the while proposing clear alternatives and publicizing them.  Meanwhile, at the state and local level, governing well is essential to showcase how effective the Democratic alternative really is.  At the federal level, though, we have no power, so we can be honest, like Al Sharpton in the primaries.  Imagine that, a party of Sharptonian rhetoric.