There is a very simple way for Barack Obama, or Hillary Clinton, or John Edwards, to seize the initiative in this coming Presidential election, and put all Obama’s current attacks on the 1960s or 1990s in context.
Run against Nixon. Stop blaming Hillary Clinton for the problems of the Democratic Party. Place the blame where it belongs, on Republicans, on Nixon’s heirs.
As I have noted here many times, Richard Nixon still dominates American politics as Franklin D. Roosevelt dominated much of the 1960s. The Bush Administration’s policies are completely Nixonian, and every single Republican candidate is a Nixonite.
They prefer to be called conservatives or Reaganites. Reagan was the smiley face placed on Nixon’s policies in the 1980s. His sunny, optimistic words hid Ed Meese, Iran-Contra, the LBO scandals, strike-breaking, the anti-environment policies of James Watt and Anne Gorsuch. These were not aberrations of his time. They were the point.
All these assumptions were set in motion by Richard Nixon, and the last 7 years are Nixonism brought to full flower. The paranoid world view, the enemies lists, the ruthlessness, the violence, the corruption, the destruction of the Constitution — it’s all Nixon.
So tie it all together and run against that. Demonstrate how every Republican Presidential candidate is an heir to Nixon, how the George W. Bush Administration has repeated every mistake Nixon ever made, squared, and how the only way toward progress is by rejecting the premises behind these policies as irrelevant.
Time to move on.
Every single policy of George W. Bush, every single policy advocated by
his presumed Republican successors, can be tied directly to what Nixon
did. Make the connection. Then dash it all apart as irrelevant, as
meaningless in terms of 2008. Richard Nixon is dead. He has no answers
for The War Against Oil, no answers for today or tomorrow. The Party of
Nixon must be buried before we can listen to anything it has to say.
This also works against the press. Because the policy and political
assumptions of every major reporter now covering Washington are
Nixon-era assumptions. From Chris Matthews’ need for a "manly man" to
Wolf Blitzer’s desire for "strength" to Lou Dobbs’ ritualistic
condemnation of government (and secret racism), everything in
Washington is Nixonism, Nixonism all day and all night, Nixonism 24-7.
What we need most is a candidate who will challenge that, everywhere it
exists. And in Washington it exists everywhere.
Running against Nixon is a narrative which puts the 2008 choice into
perspective, and which will create enthusiasm for a landslide
Democratic victory. Democrats may debate, among themselves, what might
replace it, and that’s a debate the Netroots can win. Because just as
the Nixon Thesis has collapsed, so have all assumptions that lean
against it, that claim opposition but actually require its truth to be
The Internet Thesis, building a new set of political assumptions from
the myths and values of this medium, is a sound alternative to
Nixonism. But if you’ve got a better set of assumptions, bring them on.
Of course, that’s really what the Internet Thesis is all about, the
free interchange of ideas using this medium, testing them, trying them
out, and finding a consensus on what works best.
I advocate no policies when I call for an Internet Thesis of politics.
This is a process revolution, as Nixon’s triumph was a values
revolution, and as Roosevelt’s triumph was an institutional revolution.
But it is a revolution. And that’s what the choice in 2008 needs to become.