Monday, January 03, 2005

Fast Food Foreign Policy

I couldn't just live with Simon Rosenberg as an alternative DNC chair to Howard Dean, I think he would be worthy of that position on his own merits. Posts like the following, his response to Peter Beinart's call to purge the Democrats of the insufficiently muscular, demonstrates that Simon gets it:

As Peter Beinart wrote, 1947 was indeed a crucible for progressive politics in the United States, and Democrats would do well to recall its lessons. But it was not just anti-communism that gave mid-century liberalism its strength and enduring validity.

In 1947, George Kennan, writing under the pseudonym "X," also offered a competing vision of the proper American response to the gathering Soviet threat. Anti-communism, he said, was not sufficient. To fully meet the Soviet challenge, Kennan believed the United States had first to look inward at its own deepest values. Americans had to know not merely what we opposed, but, more importantly, what we stood for:

This is an interesting line of thought, especially considering the lesson of 2004. Much more was needed than a "we aren't Bush" message for the Democrats to win. We failed to provide.

Beinart's original article is really just another example of defining Democrats negatively. We aren't for the terrorists. We aren't for Michael Moore. We aren't for MoveOn. But, as Rosenberg points out, America in general and the Democratic party in particular would not have succeeded in the 50s and 60s if we had not offered a positive alternative to the communist program. Similarly, America in the 21st century will not succeeded against rising militant extremism if all we have to offer is a negative message (we will bomb the shit out of you if you don't listen to us).

Leading the world, as George W. Bush so eloquently put it, is hard work. But it is worthwhile work so long as we have more to offer the world than bombs. Indeed, bombs should be the least of the items on our menu. Innovation and inspiration should be our speciality. Both have been sacrificed for Bush's version of fast-food foreign policy.

It's time for America to live up to its potential as a five-star nation.


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