April 20, 2004

Ghost of Scoop Jackson seen walking at night...

This sounds good. Via OxBlog, a new Democrat foreign policy group:

...For those of you who feel you are Democrats longing for a party that takes national security more seriously, (or even borderline Republicans discontented with both parties) a new group has formed that would love to have you as members.  The Truman National Security Project (www.trumanproject.org) is a group of young foreign policy professionals dedicated to creating a strong foreign policy platform for the Democratic Party, and working to move the national security debate beyond the tired battles between Cold Warriors and Vietnam-era liberals, to create new ways of thinking about foreign policy for an age of transnational threats and terrorism...
This sounds good, and I wish them all possible success.

My guess is that the Democrats won't recover electorally until a new generation arises. But the time to start is NOW. And the means is ideas! Thinking and questioning. There's a common cliché that Republicans are slow-thinking and unreflective, (or stupid and backwards, as some would say). Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact the world of American conservatives (similar though not exactly the same as the world of Republicans) is a place of intense intellectual activity and constant debate.

It wasn't always so. The truism once had a lot of truth. The Republican Party that was swept out of power in the 1930's was complacent and hidebound. And had for a long time been coasting on the momentum of the Civil War and the economic triumphs of the latter 19th Century. It was anti-intellectual, anti-New Deal, and not excited about much, except balanced budgets.

Serious thinking about conservative ideas only became common here in the 1960's, and even then it was very much under the radar. (It's pleasantly ironic that "officially" the 60's was the decade when intellectual life moved leftwards.) It had little effect on established politicians like Nixon or Rockefeller or Ford.

Ronald Reagan was the first important Republican politician who drew on the emerging conservative think-tanks and intellectuals. He was also, in the words of Irving Kristol, "...the first Republican president to pay tribute to Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the first Republican president since Theodore Roosevelt whose politics were optimistically future-oriented rather than bitterly nostalgic or passively adaptive." And he was influential in wooing the neo-cons away from Henry Jackson and Hubert Humphrey.

"bitterly nostalgic or passively adaptive." That's today's Democrats. I remember hearing about some other new "Democratic think-tank" last year. But it's purpose was apparently to provide talking points and clever arguments for Democrat congressmen. There was no suggestion that there might be a wee something lacking in the ideas for which talking points were needed. Or that anyone might be receptive to new ideas if they were provided. I didn't find that very impressive...

As to why I would want the Democrats to make a comeback...if you have to ask, you don't know me.

Posted by John Weidner at April 20, 2004 5:25 PM
Weblog by John Weidner