May 10, 2006
I can't help it, it's like an addiction...
Here's YET ANOTHER article about how the Democrats are just about to discover what they "stand for." And I can't stop myself from commenting on it. (There, I've admitted I have a problem! I'm a fisk-aholic! That's the first step. Only eleven more to go for a cure. But not today.)
Regular readers can ignore this, It's all stuff I've said before. From the NYT:
WASHINGTON, May 8 — With Democrats increasingly optimistic about this year's midterm elections and the landscape for 2008, intellectuals in the center and on the left are debating how to sharpen the party's identity and present a clear alternative to the conservatism that has dominated political thought for a generation.
I PREDICT that the midterm elections will not bring the Dems anywhere near to power. (I also predict that they will never "present a clear alternative to conservatism.")
Many of these analysts, both liberals and moderates, are convinced that the Democrats face a moment of historic opportunity. They say that the country is weary of war and division and ready — if given a compelling choice — to reject the Republicans and change the country's direction. They argue that the Democratic Party is showing signs of new health — intense party discipline on Capitol Hill, a host of policy proposals and an energized base...
None of these "signs of health" include agreeing on what their core principles are...
"What the Democrats still don't have is a philosophy, a big idea that unites their proposals and converts them from a hodgepodge of narrow and specific fixes into a vision for society," Michael Tomasky, editor of the liberal journal The American Prospect, wrote in a much-discussed essay in the May issue.
I think their "big idea" is "We should run the circus, because we know best."
A broader vision, many of these analysts say, will help the Democratic Party counter the charge, so often advanced by Republicans, that the Democrats are merely a collection of interest groups — labor, civil rights, abortion rights and the like — each consumed with their own agenda, rather than the nation's.
The charge is obviously true.
John Podesta, who heads a center-left research group, the Center for American Progress, says an appeal to the common good "gets away from what we've sort of gotten used to in the last couple cycles — a pollster-driven niche idea framing — toward a larger vision of where you want to take the country."
Sorry, Bush got there before you.
Democrats and progressive intellectuals have a history of debating philosophies and world views. Sometimes those debates result in a consensus and even a winning campaign, like Mr. Clinton's; sometimes the results are irrelevant in the rush of real-world campaigning.
Not in my lifetime they haven't. They just like to assume that everyone has already agreed that leftists are on the side of the angels, without going into specifics...
This discussion, still early, is bubbling up in journals like The American Prospect; research organizations like the Center for American Progress, The Third Way and the Democratic Leadership Council; a wave of new books; and — especially — among bloggers who are demanding that the party become more assertive in fighting for what it believes in.
Which is...uh, exactly, precisely, What?
The frustration with consultants — and their impact on Democratic politics — is widespread among the Internet pundits, and at the heart of several recent books, including "Crashing the Gate," co-written by Markos Moulitsas, founder of the blog the Daily Kos. In another, "Politics Lost," Joe Klein mourns the passing of a more authentic, preconsultant politics that he argues was embodied by Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 campaign.
If JFK or RFK came back today, these idiots would HATE them, and they would be no more popular in the Dem party than Joe Lieberman or Zell Miller are now.
This discussion of first principles and big goals marks a psychological shift for many in the party; a frequent theme is that Democrats must stop being afraid, stop worrying that their core beliefs are out of step with the times, stop ceding so much ground to the conservatives.
So what ARE the "core beliefs"???????????????????
Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, said, "One of the most successful right-wing ploys was to demonize any concern about the distribution of income in America as, quote, class warfare."
Could you be a teensy bit more specific, Mr Frank? Having "concern" is not a core belief. Were you maybe, just maybe, hinting at REDISTRIBUTION? Hmmm? Time to stop worrying that your core beliefs are "out of step with the times," right? So spit it out.
Many of these analysts argue that Republicans have pushed the ideological limits of the American people so far — notably, with Mr. Bush's tax cuts for the affluent and his effort to partly privatize Social Security — that Americans are ready for something different.
Americans are ideologically opposed to tax cuts and privatization? What ideology, exactly, is this referring to? And does "something different" mean keeping SS unchanged + raising taxes? I'm probably too much of a stupid Republican to see how that's different...
Elaine Kamarck, a former top aide to former Vice President Al Gore, argues that the combination of the Sept. 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina has driven home to Americans the need for strong and effective government, "and gets us back to our strengths — a government that can deliver."
And how, exactly, is this big government proposal going to be any more effective than all the other big gov projects we've suffered from?
William Kristol, a leading conservative thinker and editor of The Weekly Standard, counters that parties are ultimately defined not by big visions from intellectuals but by real positions on real issues.
Very true, although the positions flow from principles, stated or unstated. Here's what a Republican suggests, as a basis for us winning elections:
- Win the war.
- Confirm the judges.
- Cut the taxes.
- Control the spending.
- Secure the border.
Pretty clear and simple, right? Democrats? Get it? Hmmm?Posted by John Weidner at May 10, 2006 10:49 AM