Comments of the Week: Birthrate Panic, Domestic Violence and the Democratic Party

Storified by The Nation · Fri, Dec 07 2012 14:07:54

This weekend, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat lamented a decline in the birthrate in the United States, touching on economics but ultimately placing the blame on a “decadent” modern attitude. Both Bryce Covert and Katha Pollitt pointed out the absurdity of his argument and stressed that a truly family-friendly society would mean implementing policies such as universal childcare. Our readers also responded: 
Go to Your Womb, Ross Douthat | Douthat ignorant of demographics, but he knows his patriarchal theology #WarOnWomen #p2L’Etat C’est Moi
As a further pile-on to Douthat, that world in which "two-parent, single-breadwinner families were a near-universal norm" never existed. At the height of the single bread-winner model (I want to say 1955?), that "traditional" family was only 43% of all American family households. Our family policies (more implicit than explicit) have usually been focused on an imaginary idealized family than any configuration most Americans experience.Conservative Birthrate Panic: Our Hope for Better Work/Family Policies? | The Nation
Also this week, Jessica Valenti stressed the need to talk about domestic violence, and to not excuse it, when discussing the murder/suicide perpetrated by football player Jovan Belcher. Readers also had a lot to say on the subject: 
Question your discomfort at reading this. What is it protecting? RT @thenation: Kasandra Perkins Did Not Have to Die: Hickson
I read a study conducted in Finland about media coverage of domestic violence. When women murdered their partners and/or children, they were described as out of control monsters. When men murdered their partners and/or children, they were described as good family men who really cared about the people they murdered, and wasn’t it so tragic and sad they were driven to do such a terrible thing? Why are we so determined to make excuses for murder?Kasandra Perkins Did Not Have to Die | The Nation
I had been troubled by the lack of mention of these things too.  Notice what Costas is getting flack about: Mentioning guns.  Imagine what would have happened if he had mentioned domestic abuse or misogyny.   And it’s sad that we do have to imagine it, because I can’t see him, or Chris Berman, Mike Ditka, Terry Bradshaw, John Madden, etc. bringing it up.Kasandra Perkins Did Not Have to Die | The Nation
Finally, this week’s issue of the magazine featured a manifesto on the need to change the Democratic party, along with responses from Keith Ellison, Dorian T. Warren, Benjamin Todd Jealous and others. Our readers discussed the proposed changes, the state of the party now and the role third parties could play in pushing for progressive policies.
Here’s the thing, Mr./Ms. Runner:  What motivation does the Democratic Party have to do any of the things you suggest?  So long as so-called liberals will vote for them en masse no matter how far to the right they go, why on earth would they want to come back to the left?  You say you don’t want to abandon the Democratic Party, but so long as you don’t, there is no viable alternative and no reason for the Democrats to change.  If a third, viable, left-leaning party were to start to gather steam, then the Democrats would have to move back to the left or risk having their votes split and losing to the Republicans every time.How to Save the Democratic Party | The Nation
The statements in the article reminds of similar statements from some on the right of the political spectrum, that the Republican Party would have won had Romney been more "conservative." Are we really interested in fracturing the coalition of left of center voters that re-elected Obama, by creating a left-wing version of the Tea Party? This author offers no compelling evidence  that a more radical political platform would have augmented the Democratic margin of victory in the polls. In fact, in some states like in FL, where only 65% of registered voters cast a vote (as opposed to 75% in 2008), a radical positioning of the Democratic Party would have produced a Romney victory in this state, by compelling otherwise relatively disinterested voters to vote against the President.How to Save the Democratic Party | The Nation
Superb read – and an irrefutable indictment that neither the DNC or Third Way will ever address.  This article should be bronzed and hung up on the wall of progressives, and read over and over again, until it sinks in, chapter and verse. Beware the MSM’s blather about what the Republican Party must do to survive – crap like ‘they must do what Bill Clinton did for the party’ is precisely the wolves in sheep’s clothing plan for mafia unity to cooperate rather than compete. Thanks for putting into eloquent words what is wrong with America, and why we are going down the toilet.  A clarion call that should be heeded – and acted upon.How to Save the Democratic Party | The Nation
I am not an expert on political commentary, but I do feel I have a valid perspective as someone whose family is doing rather poorly in the current American reality. The author has a point that the Democratic party has pulled way to the right. It is currently not much different from the old-time main-stream Republicans of yesteryear. The current Republican ideology is so conservative, socially and economically, that I can’t even think that they are rational any longer. We can argue till we turn blue in the face about whether the Democratic party is worth saving or should be ditched. In the real world, we have some real people who are falling off the edge of a real cliff right now. This whole fiscal cliff mess was man-made and it should never have happened.  These are  supposed to be the grownups we have elected. So of course things have got to change. I agree totally with the formula suggested above, but that does us not a lick of good right now. What do we do now?How to Save the Democratic Party | The Nation
The Democratic Party candidates run on the progressive planks of the party platform, then quickly run away from them post-election.  I have worked for the party on the local and state level and am convinced that the party is beyond repair.  Any shift in direction toward a more progressive agenda is viewed as a threat to those who hold the power in the party.  Our state leaders are convinced, despite numerous losses over the last decade, that they know more about who the people will elect, closing primaries as a result, and simply direct their intention throughout the general assembly to their end.  The party machine is still alive and stifling democracy on the state level.  Once elected, our state and national leaders don’t fight for the liberals and progressives, obviously the latest term is up for observation, who they feel are radicals.  In fact, this version of the Democratic Party is center-right (Republican Light).  The Green Party is more in line with progressive thinking, however, both the Republicans and Democrats make it nearly impossible for them to get candidates on the ballot nationally.  Still, I am going to work for the "third parties" and if that is throwing my vote away, as they say, at least I will be voting for someone who has the same convictions as I have.How to Save the Democratic Party | The Nation
A more interesting question would be how to develop so-called third parties (how odd this sounds, like third world, of lesser quality). How big a difference does it make for average daily life to have democrats or republicans sitting in governments? Both follow the same line with some differences on the periphery. What Bush made illegally was legalized and reinforced by Obama. An improvement? The real alternative can only be the emergence of more parties with lines that really differ from the two dominant sister-parties.How to Save the Democratic Party | The Nation