Everyone should wish the Coffee Party well. Noble thoughts and blithe spirits are in short supply these days.
But the Coffee Party is a puppy in a world of raging, ravenous hyenas who'd rather their puppies skinned and spit roasted. Listen to Harry Nilsson's "The Puppy Song" by clicking here.
The history of the right wing in the United States and elsewhere argues against "The Power of Nice" in the world of politics. In fact, I would argue that being nice and engaging in the political dialogue is exactly what the radical Republican Party would relish more than anything. They smell the blood of the puppies already.
Not that liberals and others on the left should engage in the loutishness of the Tea Partiers, but one had best be prepared to counter every single slur, every single falsehood, every single racist overtone, every single outlandish position, every slouching toward Bethlehem. Smiling and putting a bright-colroed bandana on the puppy isn't going to cut the mustard.
What liberals are faced with is a right wing strategy that hits on all fronts. Foreign policy, economics, environment, poverty, transportation, energy, and education, to name but a handful.
What the left brings to the table is often incoherent in message and tone, and merely reformist and not originalist in policy. The left simply fights to keep the right from becoming more rightist. Playing nice continues this strategy.
The left must always settle for "realism," while the right generates more and more extremist acts of government then ends up with fairly extreme acts. And they are quite happy until they get another bite at the puppy.
If we allow for the moment that there is a political spectrum from 1 to 10, and the center is 5, the right wing operates in the 8 to 9 range, whereas the left operates in the 4.5 to 5.5 range. Of course the country will lean further and further right, since liberals do not stand up for the real ideals that have made America great, which ultimately are liberal ideals.
For instance, during the health care reform debate, a dead on liberal viewpoint is that all people have a right to affordable health care. A right, not a privilege. The conservatives believe that no one, except for the power elite and the destitute have a right to any such thing.
So, instead of hammering home the idea that there should be a public option so that true, non-monopolistic competition can prevail, the center-left opts for a Byzantine code of subsidies, private contracts, etc., that leaves the monopoly in place.
By using the fog of war - terms such as death squads, socialism, Jesus Is My Single Payer - the right managed to dilute the real health care reform we need.
Instead of using visceral images, the left fell back on its hard-to-shake habit of technocratic mumbo-jumbo. (Although some pro-reform groups like AARP did a great job. See their Black SUV television spot at end of this post.) A Families USA report counts 68 premature deaths per day due to inadequate health care. (Click here for study details.)
It says, among other things that "In the 15 years since health reform was last debated (1995-2009), more than 290,000 American adults (25-64 years old) died prematurely due to a lack of health coverage." That's a city about the size of Buffalo.
The deaths of those people are on the hands of the right wing resisters to health care reform. They don't have to be called names. They do have to be called to account.