|They drink the neoliberal Kool-Aid, but maybe we could crash their party?|
My use of the word "engage" is deliberately indeterminate because the manner of this engagement is something I think ought to be debated. For now, let me stress that to engage with is not the same thing as to collaborate with. I am by no means recommending the left tow the Democratic Party leadership's line or do their bidding on the ground.
I am, however, asserting that the left should find a way to use the Democratic Party to force a public debate over crucial economic issues, such as collapsing private investment, lack of public services, regressive taxation and corporate welfare, mass unemployment and underemployment, and epoch-making wealth and income inequality. Presently, the right's anti-tax rhetoric reigns supreme. Where is the mainstream left's rhetoric of jobs? Where is its full-throated defense of popular social programs such as Social Security and Medicare?
These issues have been distorted, obscured, or ignored in mainstream political debate because of modern conservatism's tremendous success over roughly the last 30-45 years at pushing the public conversation and policy agenda steadily to the right.
The extent of the rightward shift was painstakingly clear earlier this month when the Tea Party forced the Republicans to shut down the government and risk default over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.