“An Opposition Party Opposes,” by Chris Bowers, MyDD, 24 April 2005, http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/4/24/171111/845.
A post on MyDD demonstrates the path to suicide for a Fourth Generation Politic.
I think it is this different persepctive that is the source of the current party divide over whether Demcorats should oppose the Republican agenda by offering a competing set of policy proposals, or whether, at lesat right now, they should just stand as a fervent opposition to prevent the installment of as much of the Republican agenda as possible. We have all heard this debate manifest itself on a number of recent issues. Demcorats shouldn’t just oppose Bush’s Social Secrity ideas, they should offer some of their own. Democrats shouldn’t just oppose tort “reform” and the class action bill, the should offer a tort reform proposal of their own. Democrats shouldn’t just oppose the repeal of the estate tax, they should present a counter tax reform package. Don’t just oppose, propose, we are told ad nauseum.
As someone who is pretty firmly in the “just oppose” camp, I fail to see the point of Demcoratic policy alternatives at this time. What is the point of developing policy alternatives that will never even have a chance of leaving Congressional committee? What is the point of developing policy alternatives that will reify hysterical Republican claims about a Social Security crisis, a litigation crisis, or all of the other invented crisises that Republicans create as a pretense of uber-conservative reform? Further, what is the point of developing policy alternatives that will do little else except serve as an excuse of Republicans to serve up slightly altered versions of their “reforms” (remember, Republicans don’t pass pieces of legilsation, they pass reforms) as reasonable compromises? Still further, what is the point of developing policy alternatives when there is very little chance of Demcorats regaining power of the House, the Seante and the Presidency before 2008? It is going to be nearly impossible for Demcorats to gain control of the Senate in the 2006 elections, and our prospects in the House are not much better. Right now, our job is not to develop policy, because there is really no chance that we will go on to govern, thus making that policy of any use.
To the extent that the Democrat Party believes in anything, this advice would end their status as a 4GP movement.
At first this advice looks similar to the second stage of fourth generation peace described earlier. After all, aren’t legislative battles the classic example of network contestment?
The answer is no. 4GP is nonviolent ideological net-struggle because it is a fight between ideologies. Fourth Generation Politics is an attempt to enforce an ideology on a government. A 4GP network exists only to further the ideology, and it is sustained at base by that ideology.
Chris Bower’s solution is not a path to 4GP victory — it is network autoshutdown. It abandons the ideological struggle, and asks its members to either be just against the rulers or for the party bureaucracy. This is similar to some aspects of the Iraqi insurgency — the worst aspects of it (from the point of view of sustainability).
The MyDD article may be the path for kicking the Republican Party out of power. But it cedes the war of idea to conservatives — the opposite of what Chris intends. The post argues for a slide back into a previous generation of peaceful struggle — one unsuited to today’s environment.