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Federal Politics

Kevin Drum on defunding the Left in America

Image courtesy of Mother Jones and Gary Taxali

I am taking a page from Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic whenever I borrow this heavily from another article, and I don’t mean that as a slag on Andrew Sullivan. In this case, the article I want to talk about comes from Kevin Drum at Mother Jones, and it is about the ways in which the fight to defund the left in America is as much about sticking with the basics (Defunding 1.0) as it is about a new breed of defunding efforts, what Drum calls Defunding 2.0.

Drum is writing about the long-standing Republican effort to covertly defund the Democrats in the United States. And given that I wrote about Stephen Harper’s petty pseudo-political rationale for eliminating the vote subsidy yesterday (and got into my first Twitter fight with someone who had clearly not read the article, although my partner claimed because it didn’t degenerate into petty name-calling it wasn’t a real Twitter fight), I was ecstatic when I came across this article in the latest issue of the magazine.

I’ll save you the trouble of having to substitute ‘Republican’ for ‘Conservative’ by doing it for you, and the comparison to Canada’s right wing is startling. I have edited it only so that it flows in our context, and in the original article you can find the examples Drum uses.

Politics in [Canada] is a game played on multiple levels, and ideology is only the first…Where the issues are secondary…the goal is not so much to advance one party’s agenda, but to actively undermine the infrastructure that allows the opposing party to exist at all. And on this level, one of [Canada’s] two political parties routinely outplays the other: defunding the left is a longtime goal of the smartest and savviest [Conservative] strategists, and they’ve pursued it for decades.

After diving into several interesting examples of subtle ways in which the right in America is attempting to undermine their opponents ability to challenge them, let alone effectively exist, Drum goes on to say the following:

There’s nothing illegal about the right’s efforts to defund the left. As they say, politics ain’t beanbag. But the left is fighting with one hand tied behind its back if it doesn’t understand exactly what’s going on and doesn’t make sure that the public understands it, too…[T]hese aren’t just—or even mainly—fights over liberal versus conservative priorities or principles, regardless of how often the right likes to portray them that way. They’re really fights over raw, naked power, with [Conservatives] trying to permanently tilt the political playing field and restore [Harper’s] dream of a permanent majority.

Sound familiar? Like, eerily familiar? It should, on account of how accurately it manages to demonstrate that the tactics in play today being used by the right wing in North America do not show a willingness to play the game the way the way it used to be played. And perhaps this simply demonstrates the rights ability to adapt to a changing political landscape better than their left-wing counterparts. I wouldn’t doubt that for one second, but I would wonder what part the right played in forming a new political landscape more conducive to electing fellow Conservatives. Such subtle efforts to defund the left would show as much.

Public opinion can change in these fights… But that happens only when the public understands just how ugly and partisan the battle actually is.

Any way you slice it, the left needs to find a way to change the game, or adapt. Because the current method of doing business is killing them.


About awreeves

Environmentalist Geography MA Nonfiction MFA Citizen


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