The Politics of Ni Shagu Nazad!

No, that’s not an obscure Tolkien reference. It’s Russian and means ‘Not one step back’ (Comrades!!!). It was the slogan invented by Stalin to inspire hope in the Soviet army as the Nazis rolled over them. Which brings us to some excellent commentary by Charles Pierce on Democrats who think they can find common ground with Republicans (boldface mine):

…the Republican fringe was empowered by the simple fact that there now was no political entity pushing back at them with a force equal to theirs in the opposite direction. At the very least, the Democrats could be counted upon to give them some of what they wanted, at which point they would scream and holler and nobody noticed that the “Center” was drifting in their direction. And when they overreached — the Clinton Impeachment, Schiavo, the entire Bush presidency — they didn’t have to regroup. I’ve often used Stalin’s order to the Red Army to describe this — Ni shagu nazad: Not one step backwards — and it’s true. They fight like they do not care what happens to the country either way. They fight as though they don’t care if they burn their party down. The Democrats fight like they care about both things. The Democrats stopped taking risks 30 years ago. Faced with nihilism, they reach for the olive branch, which is generally sent back to them in ashes…

Holy Jesus H. Christ on a late-night infomercial, the Republicans on Capitol Hill — all the Republicans on Capitol Hill — are pure products of the atmosphere created by people like Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist. They don’t exist politically without that atmosphere. They cannot breathe in their public lives outside of that atmosphere. There’s no inner moderate in Michelle Bachmann that’s screaming to be free. There isn’t a repressed, reasonable Paul Ryan waiting tremulously in the shadows somewhere, hoping Rush doesn’t notice him, and secretly hoping in the fondest part of his heart that, one day, it’ll be safe to like Ike again. I realize that, at some level, the president has to believe this bushwah, or else his whole notion of what a great self-governing people we are goes right up in flames. But what he’s [Obama] asserting in this interview simply has no basis in the empirical reality of our politics.

What Pierce describes will not be news to anyone–feminists, biologists, climatologists to name a few–who has to routinely confront and combat movement conservatives. That Democratic political operatives and politicians still fail to recognize that we are a nation divided, albeit not evenly, is one of the great political failures of the last three decades.

And they’re still not getting it.

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