Sunday, November 07, 2004

Maybe gov't isn't the way to achieve liberal goals

I originally posted this at my other stomping grounds. You can click the link to see the discussion that ensued -- it's interesting for the most part, I think. If you feel like registering and following up over there, that'd be great. Or you can post comments here. Either way, I think this is an extremely important issue for liberals to be thinking about. The government is out of our control for at least another four years, and this could be the difference between sitting on our thumbs until 2008 or actually getting some work done.

Circa 1998, I was much more of a socialist, philosophically, than I am today. I used to think that if we wanted things like top notch schools and quality healthcare for everyone, then we had to get the government to do it for us. Today, I think that government -- or at least the American government -- is the worst possible means towards those ends.

Assuming we were able to get a liberal elected president, as well as a liberal congress to support him, we'd still have to freak out every four years about a Republican getting elected and undoing everything we've worked for. And now we've lost two presidential elections in a row and are even further away than before from having liberal control of either the House or the Senate. All of which means for the four years passed and the four years to come, liberal goals have been, and are going, nowhere. For every step forward, we take two, sometimes three steps back.

Why do we even bother?

How much money went into trying to get Kerry elected? Consider everything from Air America Radio to to Kerry's campaign war chest. It has to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. And consider all the man-hours spent -- the volunteers in the GOTV ground game, the bloggers and the 527 organizers, the artists, actors, and musicians, all of whom gave their time, their talent, and their passion to his cause. What might have been accomplished if we'd aimed those resources at something other than a political campaign?

Maybe it's time for liberals to take those resources and start new institutions: businesses, schools, even hospitals, that do things the way we want them to. Institutions that don't risk being compromised every four years by a party whose ideals are the raw antithesis of our own.

Of course, this is exactly the kind of thing that traditional conservatives have been talking about forever. I think the main reason the left has rejected these ideas is because they're always presented in a selfish, "Fuck you, don't touch my money" kind of way. But just because their motives are wrong for us doesn't mean the idea itself won't work.

So why, even in the wake of Kerry's defeat, do we insist on looking to government to give us a better tomorrow? Why are we willing to wait another four years for that tomorrow to begin?

There are some fights that must still be fought in the political arena, such as gay rights and the war on the War on Drugs. I'm not proposing we give up on those. But there are many liberal goals that I think we can achieve without government -- and without government, we can start working towards them right now. We have the money, the passion, and the talent to start it all today. So what's stopping us?

That was $2 Billion we spent on Kerry. I think he was a solid candidate, he ran a strong campaign, and it would have been great if he were elected. But that didn't happen. And while I won't say that that money was wasted (the infrastructure built with it is enormous and potentially very powerful), I can't help thinking better use could have been of it if liberals weren't so hell bent on getting the government to solve all our problems.

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