Friday, October 06, 2006

Picking on Foley - The Downside

While I like to pile on as much as anybody when The Party of Moral ValuesTM gets caught with their collective pants down, there's a potential downside for Democrats and progressives in this sordid affair.

It's all too easy for an opposition party to simply wait for the party in power to self-destruct rather than develop the message, agenda, and electoral infrastructure to win on their own merits. And while power corrupts, and Republicans, due to their free market and anti-regulatory agenda, are particularly susceptible to corruption, counting on them to screw up in order to beat them is not a viable long-term political strategy.

Winning is what counts in politics, and success, whether earned or not, is the criteria by which tactics, strategy, and politicians are judged. Should we win big nationally in this election, as it now appears, much of that success will not be due to our own efforts, but to the incompetence of Republicans. Yet within the Democratic Party that fact will be quickly forgotten in a rush to claim the credit and spoils that accrue to the victors.

The danger, of course, is that we won't use our gains to do the hard work of self-examination necessary to ensure that our success continues in the future. "Vote for me because I'm not as bad as the guy you elected last time" is a knife that cuts both ways.

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