Greenwald vs O’Donnell

Perhaps you can file this heated exchange between Greenwald and O’Donnell under the topic of “Dem Civil War.” In the clip, O’Donnell outs himself as a hard-core “socialist” while mocking liberal reluctance to actually use the identifying term “liberal.” O’Donnell holds up exit polls showing a “center-right” nation, which he used a justification to embrace whatever incrementalism he could get; he then used the the exit polling as a hammer pounding away that these polls are exactly why liberals won’t call themselves liberals. Greenwald, meanwhile, was having none of that, maintaining that if the Dems had governed from “the left,” the Dem realignment that was achieved in 2006 and 2008 would have held up.

My 2 cents on the matter doesn’t quite jive with either interpretation. The fact is that there has been a political de-alignment from both political parties that has been going on for some time now. The Tuesday night election results were about de-aligning the “Dem Realignment”. They served to re-consolidate the GOP southern alignment that had been weakening and to reverse Dem re-alignment trends, particularly in the mountain west(the “libertarian democrat meme”). The question whether Americans prefer big government or not is a bit of a red herring. For there is no doubt that there is no national preference for Republican Big Government or Democratic Big Government that can sustain a national realignment around either party.

O’Donnell is right about liberal avoidance of the identifying term “liberal.” This all stems from the avoidance of any association with the 60s anti-authoritarian counter-culture that “stained” liberalism with “permissiveness.” That’s exactly what that is about. We can muse about just how social liberal the Dem base actually is, and wax ironic about how conservative the Dem Political Class most certainly is, but both, no doubt, recoil at the idea of any “permissive” social order. There is an authoritarian institutionalism(“need permission” rather than permissive) that’s at the core of progressivism, one that caters to it’s bi-coastal urban base. Thus, from a pure political perspective, it’s a mistake to think you can stick progressives who have an allegiance to that particular brand of institutional authoritarianism in places where it’s a bit foreign to the native soil. If the party was going to maintain a national realignment, it would have to have it’s blue dogs as wells as it’s yellow dogs(the mountain west, “libertarianish” democrat).

Both Greenwald and Jane Hamsher think they can solve the national realignment problem, which in their minds, would also address the power problem of the political/corporate class, by chasing the holy grail of the “non-voter.” Hell, the Libertarian Party has been chasing that dog for the better part of two decades as an avenue for electoral relevance. With the likes of Hamsher, you now see progressives even embracing issues like drug legalization, which up to now has been primarily the domain of libertarians, as means to motivate the non-voter population, particularly the youth non-voter segment of it, to the polls to drive a progressive realignment. From a public choice perspective alone, drug legalization faces formidable obstacles. It doesn’t need to be further burdened by perceptions that it is being used as means in the cause of partisan politics and electoral realignment.

Greenwald, however, certainly had some salient points against O’Donnell. O’Donnell demonstrated utter incoherence in simultaneously calling “Health Care Reform” the most significant piece of liberal legislation in decades while also conceding that it is a “monstrosity.” Trying to escape this obvious DoubleThink by sudden appeals to Fabian “incrementalism” leaves O’Donnell wide open to Greenwald’s Political/Media class critique.

According to Greenwald, this debate is going to be continued Mano-a-mano on O’Donnell’s show. At the very least, this will be better entertainment than Stossel vs. O’Reilly.

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