Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Back to China...

What should the newly triumphant Democrats do about China?

It may be tempting for them to bash China, as opposition parties always do and presidents usually do during their first two years in office, before they find out they need the P.R.C. more than they thought--in Korea, in the U.N., on counter-terrorism and arms control, etc. It may be tempting to zig and zag as Clinton did, tying trade to rights one day and pushing PNTR the next.

But if the Democrats can hold themselves together, they could make real progress.

They could push real labor protections in China if they avoided the temptation to wrap the subject up in the futile attempt to protect every textile mill at home. They could raise human rights issues generally by approaching issues through a humble, real dialogue with the Chinese leadership (after Guantanamo and American torture planes from Europe, humility is definitely in order). They could coordinate better with the European Union's China policy.

Most importantly, they can find a balance between championing the world's hopes for Chinese democracy and maintaining the stability of China--internal and in its international relations--that is the prerequisite for a healthy democratic transition.

Here's hoping the party is up to the task!


So, we won!

And in response to those who would say that the Democrats took back the House (and maybe the Senate) by pretending to be Republicans, I would reply... yes, in some cases, but no in many more.

Democrats won in rural states by putting the language of class back into their campaigns. As Bob Moser writes for The Nation in The New Southern Strategy, candidates like Webb and McCaskill surged ahead not by becoming pro-life or bashing gays (they refused to do either) but by fighting for "working families" and campaigning hard in areas that suburban Democrats had turned their noses up at.

If the Democrats lost the South over race, they can win it back by transcending race like the best of the Southern Populists did at the beginning of the twentieth century, when banks and big landowners were recognized as the common enemy of decent laboring people, whatever their skin color.

But this will require our constant attention; we can't let the Democrats stray once in office. No more bankruptcy bills or wishy-washiness on health care.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Dirty 2006 Election Tactics

A break from Chinese issues:

I'm from Virginia and some of the stuff coming out of the Republican election campaign there is disgusting. Think Progress reports:

"The head of the Virginia Board of Elections, Jean Jensen, tells MSNBC that 'the FBI is now investigating allegations of voter intimidation and voter suppression.' State officials have documented 'dozens of phone calls that were made to heavily Democratic precincts in which the people who were receiving the calls were either given incorrect information about polling sites [or] misdirected about election laws.'"

Not mentioned here is that the calls were directed at heavily Latino and African-American neighborhoods.

This follows the not-so-subtly-race-baiting ad by Republicans in Tennessee directed at candidate Ford. Misleading flyers that try to link Republican candidate Steele in Maryland to African American leaders who have NOT endorsed him. Flyers to Orange County Latino voters warning them of the crime of voting illegally. And the minority voter intimidation of 2004---in Ohio, Wisconsin, etc.

The same is true abroad. Republicans who were part of the religious-media-government machine in support Contra terrorism in the 1980s seem unable to let go of Nicaragua, where they cut their political teeth. Numerous 80s ideologues have traveled south of the border to campaign against Daniel Ortega's election bid, a blatant interference in that country's democracy (which was established, it should be re-emphasized under Sandinista control, not under Samoza).

So, these are the people we have waving the flag of democracy? These are the people who are making the whole issue one of whether or not Bush has "gone too far" in spreading democracy in the world?

Substance matters.