Democracy or stagnation?

It appears that Obama's honeymoon is over as his ratings have slumped to 55% this month, that is 9 points less since January. A 55% approval does not look all that bad at first glance but it is 1 point less than what Bush had during the same period when he was President in his first term. The main reason for the poor results is that people are losing confidence in his economic reforms, particularly his health care plans. Ironically it is one crucial electoral proposal which made Obama so popular last January.

The New York Times reports that conservative Democrats disagree with the proposed package concerning health care, arguing that it is too costly. The typical argument is that in times of crisis you do not spend a trillion dollars, especially on what many American conservatives perceive to be a form of ungodly "socialised healthcare," reminiscent of communism. Perhaps they fail to understand that access to healthcare should not be a privilege but a fundamental right. Many may argue that no public service is free. Indeed many European socialists, especially in Scandinavian countries which have shaped one of the most remarkable welfare states in the world, have put into place high levels of taxation to make good for the costs of public spending. In America its quite a different story. If you're working class and work three jobs you still won't get insured. If you're middle class and have medical insurance, the insurance company does all in its power to avoid paying for your healthcare. I believe that Obama wanted to take the first bold steps to change all this.

But in come the so-called 'conservative Democrats'. Democracy is a beautiful idea but, as with all things, it has its drawbacks. Somehow I fail to understand how you can be democrat and conservative, especially with Obama at the helm. Comedian Bill Maher was very convincing on this particular point. He argues that once the Republicans are at their lowest point "if he can't shove some progressive legislation down their throats now, I don't know when it's gonna happen." Interestingly enough he says that he needs to adopt a George Bush personality in the sense that although Bush's ideas were "horrible," particularly the Iraq war, he got things done (reminds me a lot of Austin Gatt). "Obama needs to get things done. I don't care who's with me, I don't care who I'm going to upset, I don't care what kind of popularity I'm going to lose over this, but I'm going to push this through and I'm going to do it now and I'm going to do it in full measure."

Again, this reminds me very much of the situation in Malta where ultra-conservatives have hijacked the center-left for a very long time. Muscat can never create a "progressive coalition" for this reason, especially when you have Labour MPs who openly and vehemently reject basic civil rights such as divorce on the grounds that is immoral and against the teachings of the Bible. At best you have a moderate and very centrist collusion of liberal and conservative ideologies which cancel each other out. Muscat needs to tell these people "you're either in favour of the kind of politics which I would like to shape or you should consider running with another party." Ultimately and more boldly he has to put his foot down and state that there is no place for conservatives in the Labour Party.

For if not, would we have a democracy where there is a true variety of ideas between the different parties or two quasi-identical political organisations where stagnation reigns?

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3 Responses to Democracy or stagnation?

Erezija said...

Hi, just discovered this blog. You're forgetting something here. The Democratic Party in the USA is hardly a leftist party. It has its left wing within the party, but on the whole it's not at all socialist. Obama too, although he has his moments, can hardly be termed a leftist, when he's so friendly with the Wall Street gang.

Andrew Sciberras said...

Hi Erezija - I agree with you that the Democrat Party is not a socialist party yet on the other hand I do not really view it as a conservative party. The point of my post was that if a country - especially countries in which the political system is mainly composed of two big parties vying for power - share very similar creeds: can we call that a democracy?

Erezija said...

All I can say is that no country can call itself truly democratic, when there are power interests that influence policy, and that is certainly the state of affairs in the USA.

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