The Value Of Moral Clarity

3 comments January 7th, 2010at 07:28am Posted by Eli

Peter Daou had a great piece a couple of days ago about how Obama’s utter lack of moral clarity is demoralizing his progressive base, which I think is complemented by this Mike Elk piece about how Democrats have historically benefited from backing labor and suffered for betraying it.  My favorite part:

Truman didn’t give up his fight against Taft-Hartley. He dug in his heels and went around the country in 1948 on a 22,000-mile whistle-stop train tour, campaigning against big corporations that wanted to strip workers of their rights as part of his broader Fair Deal program. Workers remembered what a fighter Truman was from his fight against Taft-Hartley and stuck by him, delivering an unexpected Electoral College landslide, with Truman winning 303 electoral votes to Dewey’s 189.

Truman never was successful in repealing Taft- Hartley. However, it was a battle worth losing because, in the process, he won the larger war as being a champion of the working class.

I think there’s an important lesson there.  It’s better to fight for the right thing and lose than it is to fight for the wrong thing and win, because you’ve forced the opposition to stake out a position clearly in the wrong, rather than (however accidentally) in the right.  Not to mention the fact that the resulting electoral victories may eventually make it possible to fight for the right thing and actually win.

Obama and the Democrats would do well to learn this lesson rather than chasing hollow, Pyrrhic victories, but I don’t see much evidence that they ever will.

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Labor,Obama,Politics


  • 1. Cujo359  |  January 7th, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I wrote not too long ago that sometimes failure isn’t as important as what we failed to do. That’s the point, we don’t expect success, what we expect of our leaders is that they try to do what’s right. Do that enough, and sooner or later you, or someone who follows your example, will succeed.

  • 2. Eli  |  January 7th, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Or, as they say in the golf biz, “Never up, never in.”

  • 3. Multi Medium » Pyrr&hellip  |  January 13th, 2010 at 11:43 am

    […] As I’ve said before, I would much rather see Obama on the right side of a losing battle every so often, than on the wrong side of a winning one (or conceding defeat without one) over and over again. […]

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