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Ron Radosh

Time for Some Democrats to Become Republicans

November 10th, 2010 - 12:59 am

Koch acknowledges that the majority of our country today is “moderate conservative,” with “moderate liberal” a close second — both categories highly different than the stance of most Democrats and the current administration. Koch even proposes amendments to the health care bill he urges Obama to adopt — but if one reads them, it is apparent that these are Republican proposals that Koch must know Obama will never support. Or does he really think that the president will back “letting all insurance carriers offer their policies in all 50 states to increase competition, regulate premium increases, and allow Medicare to seek volume prescription drug discounts — barred under current law — which could save hundreds of billions of dollars over a 10-year period.”

The first part of Koch’s proposal was supported during the campaign by many Republicans. And the second part calling for volume drug discounts never had a chance since the administration cut a deal with the drug companies in exchange for their not opposing the ObamaCare proposals.

As for foreign policy, Koch argues that Obama

…should announce that we are prepared to wage a 50-year war against the Islamist terrorists now seeking to destroy Western civilization and that we will not compromise with the jihadists under any circumstances, and will call them by their rightful name — Islamic terrorists — not simply militants and will ask the media to do the same.

Again, I give that proposal a hearty amen! But Koch’s words come just as Obama is in Indonesia where he is continuing his ill-advised outreach to the Muslim world and downplaying any talk about there being any real threat of terrorism coming from radical Islam. And while in Indonesia, the president sought to use his bully pulpit not to condemn radical Islam,  but instead to join the chorus of the anti-Israel clique by condemning Israel for proposing so-called “settlements” in east Jerusalem, when, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained so curtly, “Jerusalem is not a settlement; Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel.”

Koch tries to explain why he is not a Republican with what I consider a somewhat unfair swipe, in which he argues that

[T]he major difference between the Democratic and Republican parties which has made me a proud Democrat is that the Democratic Party’s policy is to provide a helping hand to those in need, whilst the Republican Party has taken the position, if others have made it on their own, the poor, unskilled, and those simply having bad luck or dealt a bad hand will have to make it on their own.

Yes, some total free-marketeers and libertarians do take that position, but most conservatives I know understand fully the need for a realistic safety net for the working poor, and do not want to return America to the era before such a safety net existed. What they oppose, and what Koch opposes also, is precisely what the Democratic Party stands for today — the espousal of a stealth socialist strategy meant to advance our nation towards a statist socialism that the public opposes.

Last week, as everyone knows, MSNBC’s  Lawrence O’Donnell let it slip in a debate with Glenn  Greenwald that he considered himself a socialist. As he put it,

I am not a progressive. I am not a liberal who is so afraid of the word that I had to change my name to progressive. Liberals amuse me. I am a socialist. I live to the extreme left, the extreme left of you mere liberals, okay?

Give the man credit for honesty — the kind of honesty Barack Obama shies away from. In his book, Stanley Kurtz says he would have no problem if Obama had said he was a socialist and tried to explain what that means in terms of the policies he advocates. What Kurtz objects to is Obama’s avoidance of the word socialism and his adoption of a strategy he learned from his colleagues in the Midwest Academy and other groups: that of hiding his true views and instead trying to advance policies that would result in socialism without ever having to publicly advocate what he truly believes.

O’Donnell himself went on to say the next day, in response to Glenn Beck, that

…he was a socialist because he supported programs such as Medicare and Social Security — which are, he said, explicitly socialistic at heart. He described Medicare as “a socialist idea whose time had come in a capitalist society.” Moreover, he said, everyone who supports such programs is supporting socialism.

The problem is that most people who support Medicare do not think of themselves as socialists, nor do they believe in the kind of super statist programs that the administration is proposing, which is what exemplifies the kind of “socialism” they support.

I happen to agree with the analysis of the historian Martin J. Sklar, who, as I previously wrote a year ago, has developed the theory of “the mix”; that all modern societies contain within themselves both elements of capitalism and socialism. But Sklar today firmly stands in opposition to the Obama program, considering the real issue not to be, as he writes, whether we move to socialism but whether we can maintain  a liberal democracy based on the mix that nurtures “Liberty and Equality and Progressive Development.” This, he writes, is

…something the Bush/Cheney administrations championed, and the reason I, a person of the left, strongly supported them, including the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the (world) war against Islamist imperialism.

Finally, in a personal letter to me, Sklar calls for a unified liberty movement of people who see themselves on the left or liberal side and those who see themselves as conservatives to defeat “the state-command sectarians,” and bring together those on the democratic left and right in an effort to rejuvenate “the prospects of liberal democracy.”As he explains Obama, the president is a Leninist statist who stands athwart the main traditions of liberal democracy, and hence is incapable of changing course midstream as Clinton did after 1995.

For such a movement for liberty to emerge, it will take some moderate centrist Democrats, like Ed Koch, Senator-elect Manchin, and others to switch parties and become Republicans. To create a big tent majority party, the Republicans need people like them — not just the Tea Party conservatives. Will they have the courage to make the switch?

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