Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I think he's right.


But I'll be ready to write the conservative movement's epitaph when (a) Barack Obama is inaugurated, and (b) Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid enact some stuff with more lasting impact than the meager results of 1977-80 or 1993-4. There's real reason to believe a congressional party much less dependent on the votes of white south moderates will, in fact, be able to deliver more. But I'll believe it when I see it. I think it's very plausible to imagine a conservative movement that's still strong enough to frustrate progressives' main legislative goals, force Democrats to unilaterally make the tough moves to get the fiscal situation in control, and then once that's done return to power on a new platform of tax cuts for rich people.

The problem here is the nation itself. The U.S. has only moved in a progressive direction in response to crises; the rest of the time it drifts in a conservative direction until conservatism exercises its one supreme talent and fucks everything up. Civil Rights happened in response to Vietnam, and to massive action by blacks and some other groups, much of it violent. Our version of a welfare state came about as a result of the Depression. The freeing of the slaves came about only after the Civil War. The battles over the union movement were like a minor civil war. Nothing going on is anywhere near as seismic as those events. A notional President Obama and a Dem congress will be stopped cold by the same Republican/Blue Dog coalition that has stopped the Dems from putting the finishing touches on Roosevelt's work since, well, since Roosevelt. Hell, both Roosevelts. This is why I find Obama's "change" rhetoric so annoying: he isn't going to change a thing, besides the color of the man sitting in the White House. That's a good thing in itself, but when the novelty wears off you'll still have the same old sclerotic country numbing itself in front of the TV, and getting pissed off when people tell it it has an opportunity to improve things if only it will get off its fat ass for a bit. That is the America I know, and it ain't going to change because Obama can make a nice speech.