Taking a break

I’ve said I was going to do this before, but I really need to take a break now and get my own life together. During my 2 1/2 years as a political blogger, I’ve let a lot of things slide, and I hope to get back to them. (One of these will be a new, less-political blog where I can develop my many other interests.)

I am not doing this out of hopelessness, though the election was a serious blow. I had hoped that with Kerry in office, the pressure would be relieved by now. That was not to be, so we’re in for the long haul. But there’s less urgency now than there was before the election, and this is probably the time for a vacation. I plan to be back, perhaps posting less, at some point not too far in the future.

Contrary to many, I think that there should be a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. I’ve mostly quit asking the Democrats to be more liberal, but I think that they absolutely have to be more effectual. One example of ineffectuality especially galls me. The fraudulent Swift Boat attacks really did hurt Kerry, and the Democratic response was initially very weak. I saw this kind of thing coming, and in February and March I spent most of a month starting a webpage to catalogue and respond to internet smears. My page attracted very little interest, from the blogosphere or anyone else, and I stopped updating it in April. I assumed then that it was just me, and that the Kerry people had someone else on the job, but I don’t really think that that was true. (The one blogger who was definitely interested, Hesiod of Theogeny, apparently was rebuffed in his own attempts to work with the Democrats, and he has closed down his site. I have been told that one high official in the Kerry campaign actually told the staff to stay away from blogs entirely.)

I think that the Democratic Party is dominated by a group which is more successful at winning intraparty fights than they are at winning elections. I also suspect that they really don’t suffer much when the Democrats are defeated, and are thus lacking any incentive. I even suspect that some of them, a la Martin Peretz, are so hostile to the left wing of the party that they’d rather lose with a centrist than win with a liberal [/paranoia]. Gore actually did better when he was taking a more populist approach, but his pros put the kibosh on that. I have read that Shrum explained, even before the results were in, that the message of this election is that the Democrats have to be more militaristic.

What I think that the Democrats have to do is put together a coherent message, present it effectively, and keep hitting at Bush. They do not need to move further to the right.

My recent posts have been of two types: the normal “What should the Democrats do now?” type, and the more alarmist “Watch for fascism” type. I would be glad to find out that the latter type of post is mistaken, but let’s just keep our eyes open. We know that Bush and his crew are going to do everything legal or semi-legal they can to marginalize the Democrats entirely, and we should also keep a lookout for illegal and police-state actions. As the Middle East War heats up, we should expect the first people to be attacked to be the anti-war activists.

As I understand it, Bush is sure to have some combination of military and fiscal crisis during his term, and how he deals with the resistance when that happens will tell us a lot. People are talking as if he’ll go quietly once the shit hits the fan, but that’s what we really don’t know.