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Semiformalishmaybe

What Must Come Next

(Was posted on my G+ first)

Professor Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Obama seem to have won this election, and Romney doesn't seem to have a concession speech written.

More importantly, the Libertarian Party has again failed to win a single state, which is always far, far more awesome than the Republicans losing (although it's great when both happen). So yes, fuck you, libertarians. May you lose forevermore

It's important that, as abortion was a surprise issue in this election, we should remember that on the state level, conservatives have effectively undermined Roe v Wade by using red tape to close abortion clinics. As liberals, we should enjoy making efforts in cutting that red tape. It's also important to really drive home the message that the changes in voting law were an ugly attempt to win elections the wrong way, and were done primarily by conservatives. Plus, the Affordable Care Act was just half-done. We should see if we can push for a real, comprehensive upgrade to it that will implement single-payer. We also need to address the costs and structure of education, which as much as infrastructure remain one of the biggest challenges facing our nation's competitiveness. Finally, the environment has been neglected in this campaign, but we cannot negotiate with it, nor safely borrow against it.

This is not some magic and deep win for liberals. The nation is still divided fairly evenly. We may even see Obama winning the electoral college without winning the popular vote. And at least for people like me, the Democratic Party is just the lesser evil. As liberals, we must communicate our values better, argue for them more convincingly and more stridently, and actually convince people that institutions are worthwhile, that capitalism is particularly bad in the raw form (although for socialists like me, we should argue that in general we can do better), and that if we think of government as a tool to advance the public good, make it data-driven and focused on getting the institutions right, and move away from fundamentalist notions of property, we can actually make society a lot better than it is now. We have a lot of work to do.

In the meantime, we should be thinking about the future leaders of our party, particularly the people who might reform our political system in ways that reach across the aisle while advancing the values we believe in. I particularly identify Professor Warren and Russ Feingold as being worthy of focus for the Democrats, while in the longer term we need to build support around the ideas of Bernie Sanders so we can think about building a realistic alternative to the Democratic Party. The legacy of Sanders must not end with him; he has paved a path for a moderate, sensible, mainstream democratic-socialism.

Provided Obama actually wins this, which seems very likely, the worst thing we can do is sit on our laurels and watch 4 years of an effectively lame duck president (given the divide in congress) lead us to a defeat afterwards. The Republicans ran a remarkably weak campaign here, and while shifting demographics may help Dems, the next challenger may be tougher and the margins are not good enough that we could be sure that the lesser-evil of Dems would've won against that. We need to move the centre of American politics well to the left. We need to get ready to replace the Democratic party; we need to make it safe that that idea is not just blue-skies.

But in the meantime, it makes sense to drink to the lesser evil. It's a small victory. As liberals, and particularly those of us who are socialists, we have a long path ahead of us.

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