I'm not inherently a great pessimist, but with few exceptions each passing month for over a decade now has seen my optimism whither, at least a little. So I can't help but see the manure-colored lining in this otherwise rosy, fluffy cloud.
Steve Benen reports that according to the new NBC/WSJ poll, Americans trust Democrats more than Republicans on domestic issues, sometimes by large margins. Here is a graph. (As always, click to embiggen.)
But the causes of my pessimism are four-fold. First, as Benen goes on to note, the same polling reveals that in the popular mind "Republicans have an advantage on the (sic) reducing the deficit, 'controlling' government spending, and national defense." Well, there's three reasons for pessimism right there. A) Reducing the deficit is an issue of exactly zero urgency, and attacking it now will certainly cause economic hardship, especially for those at the bottom. Further, Republicans have been huge debt increasers for decades, while Dems have not. B) We absolutely do not have a spending problem. We absolutely do have a revenue problem, as graph 2 plainly indicates. I think the Republicans have become convinced of their own lies.
C) From FDR through LBJ to BHO, Dems have been every bit as war-mongerish as their Rep counterparts; BHO has continued his predecessors war initiatives almost seamlessly; and 9/11 happened on W's watch. This just makes me want to cry.
But I have a bigger list. Second, a look a graph 1 reveals some disturbing details. A) Joe BeerCan must not connect "Looking out for the middle class," Medicare," "Health Care," "Medicare,' or "Social Security" with "Economy" or the results for those categories would line up better. B) Considering Paul Ryan and the never-ending series of Republican contrived cliffs, scoring Dems only marginally better than Repubs on the economy is, all by itself, cause for despair. C) As is the close call on taxes.
Third, and I've already alluded to this, there is almost no daylight between the two parties on foreign policy issues. Still I have to give a slight nod to the Dems, based on practicality, because: John Bolton.
And last, though I firmly believe to the bottom of my heart that the Dems are superior on absolutely every issue, problem and question that might rise, they still aren't that damned good. Case in point: the new head of the Michigan Democratic party is a venture capitalist. As Bill Maher sagely put it, while the Democrats have moved to the right, the Republicans have moved to the insane asylum. They demonstrate this anew, almost every single day.
The lessons of history and even a casual observation of the current failures of European austerity show that progressive policies are the clear and present necessity. But even if we had strong Dem majorities, we still have Reaganite B. Hoover Obama in the White House, and a genuine progressive movement in congress the exact size and shape of Bernie Sanders.
As one of my college professors put it long ago: Booze is the only answer.