October 25, 2004

The Fight for the Democrat Soul

Dan Hertsgaard in the SanFranChron writes about the upcoming battle for the heart and soul of the Democrat Party.

Its an interesting look into at least one faction of the party.

Note that very few names are named, and most of them are either bit players or people whose allegiances are already well-known. Still, it's food for thought.

Hertsgaard writes:

Influential figures on the party's left wing are planning a long-term campaign to move the Democrats to the left, just as right-wing activists took over the Republican Party and moved it to the right over the past 30 years.

If the left's campaign is successful, it could transform the political landscape of the United States, changing the terms of debate and bringing dramatically different policies on local, national and international issues.

Just like the Conservative Revolution in the GOP did, right?

Well, wrong. There's a huge social difference in play, here. Liberalism as we know it grew over the course of forty years, from the New Deal through the war. Both spawned an America, and a generation pf Americans, with deep faith in their government's ability to solve problems - and the ability to ignore the unintended consequences of the government's power. The Democrat party became the party of statist solutions - under the likes of Truman and Kennedy and Humphrey, statism coupled with the great exceptionalistic vision of America. The Republicans of the day - Eisenhower, Nixon, and a whole generation of Minnesota Republicans - on the other hand became the party of exceptionalistic vision and slightly-less statist solutions.

The Democrats abandoned their legacy in the seventies. The Republicans saw that Americans were not only not following - they also becoming disenchanted with the statist vision, and after the dismal seventies yearned for the exceptionalistic vision that the Democrats were using for kitty litter. It was a change in political climate unlike any since the Great Depression. Goldwater knew it, Reagan jumped on it...

...and the Democrats, in Minnesota and nationwide, still don't get it.

After George McGovern's landslide loss to Richard Nixon in 1972, some centrist Democrats argued that Democrats had become too liberal to win national elections.

The accusation was repeated after Michael Dukakis' lopsided loss to George Bush in 1988. Leading the charge was the Democratic Leadership Council, a group of centrist Democrats who subsequently pushed the party rightward on crime, economics and foreign policy during the presidency of Bill Clinton, himself a council supporter.

Now, leftist Democrats are planning to challenge the centrists' control. The leftists argue that many Democrats, especially the party establishment in Washington, have become too much like Republicans and too afraid to stand up to right-wingers like George W. Bush.

As a Republican, I applaud this move. I think - no, I believe in my heart - that September 11 reinforced in most Americans the beliefs that Reagan held and brought out; that America's strength is its people and its spirit and its exceptionalistic tradition, rather than its bureacracy.

Read the whole thing. It has fodder for a couple more posts at least.

Posted by Mitch at October 25, 2004 05:05 AM | TrackBack

Under the radar, the Liberarian Party is moving away from it's anarchistic leanings towards a more constituional libertarianism. Still has a way to go, but one can now dream of the marginalization of the Democrats and the Libertarian Party as the loyal opposition to over-extension of government power by the Right.

Posted by: Craig Westover at October 25, 2004 12:08 PM


I enjoy reading your columns in the PP, but there's no possible way the LP can creep toward respectability fielding candidates like Badnarik for President.

As for the article Mitch linked toward, I welcome the descent toward the far-left of the "mainstream" Democratic party. I worry a bit about political violence that might engender (ala the Weather Underground), but for the most part I think it just means the donks will be in the political wilderness that much longer.

Posted by: Mark at October 26, 2004 12:38 AM