Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Where the Shadows Lie

Figuring out what ails a political party is more difficult than saying what is wrong with a candidate. Individual candidates succeed or fail on things specific to them, and can be brought low by idiosyncrasies that have nothing to do with politics. Parties succeed or fail because of what they represent, both the constituencies whose interests they defend and the political philosophies that guide their political acts. When I described the Democratic Party as aimless, it is due to the lack of clarity on these two points. When examining the actions and rhetoric of the Deaniac faction, I’m left really, truly wondering if they do not want to be a party at all.

So much of what I have written in this blog, reaching back to the earliest posts has been, at base, trying to identify what the Democrats stand for. In the beginning, it seemed so obvious that Democrats were “not them,” not the party of preventive war, torture, crony capitalism, dissolution of civil rights, and dismantling of the regulatory state. The longer I lived in the blogosphere (I haven’t owned a TV in 20 years.), the less certain I become of that belief. The fracture of the party this year into Obamacans and Clinton Democrats, a split that numerically favors the latter while the former retains control of key intersections of power, has spurred most of my writing for the last year, trying to comprehend how we got to this point.

Running like a dark band through Democratic politics is the shadow of Reagan. The Reagan resurgence after the crimes of Nixon, when we on the Left thought we had finally beaten back the McCarthyist tactics of Ole’ Tricky Dick, did something deeply damaging to Democrats. I remember my parents’ reactions to Reagan’s victory. Grim, tight lipped, a sense that we needed to hunker down. We had lived in Reagan’s California and we knew what he was like. Reagan’s occupation of the White House demoralized them. It seemed nothing less than the repudiation of all the promise, all the sacrifice, of the previous two decades. He ran and won on the explicit pledge to undo all the labors of the Left back through FDR. What we as a nation had come to think of as right – social justice, civil rights, economic opportunity, egalitarianism – had been declared the enemy of all things American. No more equivocation that Democrats were “like” Communists, the Enemy; we were reviled as an equally reprehensible foe of real America. And the Democratic Party leadership, full of its incessant self-critique and distaste for power, allowed as to how that was probably true to a certain degree. To this day, a significant portion of the power brokers in the party cannot free themselves of the hypnotic lies of Reagan.

Reagan’s initial win might not have been so ground-changing were it not for the self-defeating response of the Democrats. I’m also convinced that the assassination attempt on Reagan gained his policies sympathy that should only have been extended to the person. Stepping back for a longer view, the weakness that Reagan exploited, using the groundwork laid by the Movement Conservatives and the Nixonian neocons, was the dismantling of our own apartheid state. The Civil Rights Act was the only ethical choice for the nation and had to be done by the Democrats as repudiation of what was irretrievable wrong in our party. Nothing less would have sufficed. It had to be done and both the nation and the party are better for it, but it set in motion the multi-decade fracture and reformation of the party.

What marked the Democrats so badly, made unbearably clear with Reagan’s victory, was the abandonment of the party by long-term constituencies, first and foremost the foundational group, the heirs of the planter and plantation class of the Old South. The old Democratic coalition, never an easy accommodation in the best of times, didn’t just come apart. Large portions defected, whether over belief or due to political expedience, to the opposition, fueling the resentment based politics of the Movement Conservatives. At first, the defections could be explained as simply white Southern racists trying to hold on to their privileges, and this was mostly right. And then came Reagan and the phenomenon of the Reagan Democrat.

With Reagan, plain politics about Southern whites receded and culture arguments came to the fore. Bunkers joined Bubbas in their abandonment of the Democratic Party, and the intelligentsia of the Left began to talk about values and a culture rooted in ignorance, bigotry and working class parochialism. Never mind that, as Bartels and Krugman have written, the defections from the Democratic Party were greater the higher the socio-economic status of the voter, the Democratic leadership became convinced that it was those no-account blue collar people who were killing their Stevensonian dreams. (We, of course, will set aside the uncomfortable fact that Stevenson himself was not exactly big on promoting Civil Rights.) Since Reagan, the Democratic leadership has wavered back and forth between those who want to bring the politics back to bread and butter issues, which means addressing working class needs and interests, and those who want to create a coalition that does not rely on white working class votes. We saw those two perspectives battle it out in the primaries this year. The latter group, not just party officials, but also the intelligentsia that formulates the political philosophy and the echo chamber that shouts its approval, is running a campaign on little more than class resentment against former Democratic constituencies. (White) Race is elided with (working) class to create the ultimate clash of culture – to make racist demons out of people asking to have their material interests defended.

It is no less than the mobilization of resentment of the socio-economic winners against the losers. How dare you not keep us in power, when we have done so little for you and promise to do even less? That the group quickest to hurl accusations of racism and party disloyalty against the working class is also the one most likely to have benefitted from white privilege and to have bolted the party in the past doesn’t make a dent in their cultural critique. The erudite denizens of Whole Foods Nation are angry at the ungrateful wretches who won’t bow to the superiority of the creative class, and they have no interest in even trying to appeal to the Clinton Democrats. Gauging from the rhetoric of this season, from Donna Brazile down to the trolls in my comments, the Democratic Party is determined to rid itself of those constituencies they see as traitors to the cause. They are willing to walk away from social justice as “losing” electoral propositions, things like women’s rights, gay rights, privacy rights, and the like. Instead, we see a great faith in “choice”, especially market-driven choices, and promotion of faith. They do not want to spend political capital on anything that might risk energizing the mythic base of Reagan. The Obamacan assault on what they imagine to be their political opponents because of confusion between cultural identity and political constituency, came out in their attacks on Hillary not so much as the figure that would bring out that base in opposition, but exactly because she would appeal to that base on both cultural and economic grounds. She and her supporters had to be turned into racists to avoid discussing the economics interests Obama did not deign to address.

Thus the electoral strategy of the current party leadership appears to be keep the yahoos down on the farm and secure the hegemony of Whole Foods Nation. This is even more a cultural split than a class division. There is no context to the Obama message until the convention forced one on him, quickly abandoned in favor of assaulting Gov. Palin for her culture crimes. On the class and culture front, I look at the appeals to education (not like those hicks) and to muddled religiosity (half New Age, half non-denominational mega-church) (Which, if you’ve ever seen “Ramtha” in action, you’ll realize are not that far apart...) and above all the appeals to bipartisanship as attempts to peel away the old Rockefeller Republicans from their party.

To cut to the chase, the push in 2004 for a “Unity Party” has been realized with Howard Dean delivering the Democratic Party into the hands of the High Broderists who value unity for unity’s sake more than any other political cause or virtue. They don’t even want to claim to be part of their party, hoping people will forget and just vote for those nice clean, articulate fellas. This is part of internalizing the Reagan assault on the legitimacy of the Democratic Party as such. Psychologically, to them, the Democratic Party is the remnants of the uneducated, racist, white South and rust-belt north, who vote for Bubbas like Clinton and reject above-partisanship technocrats and idealists like Bill Bradley, John Kerry, Michael Dukakis, Paul Tsongas and Howard Dean himself. The nerve of them people! And thus, this year, we have the Unity Democrats, non-partisan to the end.

The dark underbelly of this move is the presumption that the people who have been told their interests must wait will always be there for the Democrats because we have nowhere else to go. Specifically, this means African Americans, women voters and GLBT voters. Republican policies and objectives are deemed so awful to us that we will not defect or sit out, no matter how dismissive or unresponsive the Unity Democrats are to our interests. This is the unspoken presumption about Schaller’s Whistling Past Dixie argument, that the party can safely abandon “the South” and pursue new constituencies in the West (read Hispanics, white Independents and Moderate white Republicans) because the captive Democrats of those regions can always be counted on to defend the gerrymandered districts and are too few and far between to bother with in national elections. They count on population loss over time in Pennsylvania and Ohio to remove those states from importance in the electoral map. Finally, replace Blacks with Hispanics as the minority to cater to as they are growing in number at a faster rate and are better able to advance into the professional ranks via education and passing as “white”. That’s the final keystone in the arch supporting the bridge into the United future – ditch defense of the minority that caused the Democrats so much grief in the first place, be rid of their ungrateful presence and embarrassing, “pathological” culture, and celebrate those who can pass as one of us and will give us a pass on that messy race stuff. After all, what are they going to do, vote Republican?

The focus of the Unity Democrats is on the winners of the economic realignment, those who managed to win a place in the white collar upper-middle class. People like my family and my husband’s, who leveraged the affluence of the post-war era to vault from being immigrants and farmers to being professionals in various government bureaucracies, law, finance, and new, white collar industries like high tech and bio-tech. The other part is to minimize the damage the losers of that realignment can inflict, which mostly means refusing to commit to policies and plans that will defend their interests. Or even their lives. Obama’s campaign is not about social goods and resources, but about cultural markers of class inclusion, such as your level of education, where you shop, whether you live in urban or rural environments, etc. He has difficulty addressing the failures of an economic system contiguous with his own class and which is deeply invested in his candidacy, and I don’t just mean the campaign contributions. He is the exemplar of a mode of life that, while not as unreachable as that of Bush’s base, is still out of reach of those who do not have the education, acculturation and business contacts to climb up that economic ladder.

The ultimate shadow of Reagan is that you don’t win by defending losers, only by securing the interests of the winners. That is the dark heart beating in the chest of the Unity Democrats. They are done with the losers.

Anglachel

16 comments:

HenryFTP said...

Once again, your piercing insight has blown away the rhetorical fog surrounding the conflicts in the Democratic Party over the past 30 years. I think it was Walter Mondale's overwhelming defeat in the 1984 presidential election, even more than Carter's defeat in 1980, that traumatized Democratic Party elites. How bitterly ironic is it that the Republican reaction to their landslide defeat in 1964 was to give ever more power to Goldwater supporters while the Democratic reaction to the 1984 defeat was to give primacy to the Stevenson wing of the Party, which has yet to prove that it can win a national election.

The Democratic Party elites are so addicted to the Washington Echo Chamber and its bogus focus group "voter feedback" that they managed to miss, willfully or ignorantly, the significance of the 2006 mid-term elections, which brought back the "Democratic brand" in a way not seen since the 1974 Watergate mid-term election. Of course, since neither Rahm Emmanuel nor Barack Obama came of political age until well after Nixon's disgrace (both graduating high school during the Carter presidency), it isn't really surprising that on some fundamental level they don't understand what it means to be a real Democrat.

There seems as well to be a paradox in the Obama-Emmanuel-Dean approach, which is that while their ideal voter is better educated than the core Democratic voter of the old New Deal coalition, the pitch assumes that voter is relatively "low-information" and indeed relatively indifferent to the substance of politics. The target audience is allegedly "smarter", but the message is distinctly "dumber", clouds of rhetoric notwithstanding. Again, the Democratic Party elites (to say nothing of the somnolent and corrupt corporate media) are practically mystified by the powerful appeal of unashamedly "wonky" politicians like Bill and Hillary Clinton and the Democratic class of 2006, who deliver substantive messages to voters explicitly linked to the best traditions of the New Deal and postwar Democratic Party.

Donna Brazile declared all this passé years ago in her design for the 2000 Al Gore presidential campaign. And she and the rest of the elites at long last have their ideal candidate, who unlike Dukakis, Gore and Kerry will not be longing to break out of the carefully packaged imagery and start talking actual politics.

If Obama manages to win, how he will govern is a mystery. I suspect that we will get a glimpse of what a Stevenson administration would have been like -- not so very different from the actual Eisenhower administration we had.

Shainzona said...

A wonderful explanation on the aimlessness of my former political party. I am struck by the references to Reagan throughout this election cycle and you have framed it in a way that I had not previously understood.

I wonder, too, what effect “age” has to do with the current state of affairs. I am like your parents…I was so depressed when Reagan was elected and swore that someday we would reverse the horrible ‘80s. Thank heavens for Bubba!!

I came of age during the Viet Nam era and, although I am now sure I didn’t totally understand that event, I knew it most vividly because of Nixon.

The other critical thing for me in defining where I ended up as a voter was choice (and, as an extension, women’s rights). And in that respect, I had no choice (pardon the pun!). I became a committed Democratic.

Now that I am 62 I, of course, see/think/feel things differently. Choice doesn’t seem to matter to the kids today – they grew up with the rights for which we fought so hard so there’s no emotion, no experience, no feeling about the subject. Now it’s simply thrown in my face as the reason I must vote for Obama. And women’s rights – HA!

With regard to other issues, the small differences I see between the two parties now don’t traumatize me. This country will pull together on the economy, the environment, and war – I may not like the strategies, but I truly believe that all Americans feel the same way I do in those eventual outcomes and objectives.

Obama supporters are young. They have little invested in the big issues of today. They have no emotion for the things that (I think) really matter. So along comes hopey/dopey and they go nuts.

I hate to realize that I am now “old” in my thinking. But, indeed, I tell our two children…”just wait until you’re my age….” All too often.

One day – soon – the specter of Reagan will be only written history and maybe then, Bubba will be the gold standard to a new generation (with the likes of Bush, Kerry, Dean, Obama, et al, as points of comparison, there will probably be temples erected in his honor. Ahhh…to live long enough to see that day!)

grayslady said...

Since only 25% of the adult population in this country has a college education, even someone without a college education can figure out that appealing to such a small segment of voters is a losing proposition. Adding in another 10% for AA voters still doesn't get you to a majority of the country. So much for Democratic party strategists.

As for "Reagan Democrats", those who weren't in the workforce during the Carter years can't appreciate that the Reagan appeal was all about economics, not social issues. Mortgage rates were at 17% when Reagan took office. By the end of his first term, they had dropped to 9%. Reagan was able to push through his social agenda for the same reason that Bill Clinton left office with a 60% approval rating: people will put up with a lot if the economy is strong.

Ultimately, no matter where you are on the economic scale, elections are about pocketbook issues--and whether the voters believe that a particular candidate has the leadership capabilities to move on those economic issues. Hillary was the one remaining Democratic candidate who understood how to appeal to economic voters of all classes and who evidenced leadership and determination at the same time.

Bob said...

henryftp: Most excellent comment. Many of us "Clinton Democrats" are pegged as "lo-fi" because we are rural and rural usually equates to lower on the socio-econ scale, thereby making us less worthy than the wealthier and allegedly more articulate urbanes. The only truth in that statement is that the rural voter is typically less well-off. We do have teevee and the intertubes so the "lo-fi" ding doesn't ping.

Rural voters, I think, are less plugged into, on a constant basis, national politics and really don't start paying close attention until the frost is on the pumpkin and the harvest is past.

It will be curious to see, if nothing substantial changes, how the polls will be going in a month.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

I wonder if you're not overestimating Reagan. If the Fates, in a kinder mood, had rid the world of Khomeini, and replaced the thuggish dullard Brezhnev with a more enlightened fellow who would have had the sense to stay out of Afghanistan, in 1975 or so, and also delivered an economic upturn in 1980--or if Reagan had won the GOP nomination and the general election in 1976 instead of 1980--would Reagan have proven such a major figure?

And speaking of Khomeini and Brezhnev, may Cthulhu excrete on their graves for their roles in inflicting Reagan on us, and the world.

Mike J. said...

This is a very interesting and compelling interpretation (as always), but I would argue that the Democrats are now doing what the Republicans have been doing: waging economic class warfare under the guise of a "culture clash", except that now both the GOP and the Dems are siding with the winners against the losers. The Obama campaign is using cultural signals rather than economic ones because in addition to the "liberal white guilt" there is also the "liberal wealth guilt". So the demonization of the blue collar and rural Americans amounts to an effort to de-legitimize their economic concerns, and once that is done you can feel less guilty about shopping in Whole Foods while others are struggling to eke out a living.

I used to live in CA myself, specifically in Monterey and Marina, an experienced that proved to be a great disappointment. I had expected CA to be the great liberal state it is often portrayed to be, but what I found is massive social inequality, combined with middle class angst and, of course, the burgeoning Whole Foods Nation. I had a hard time reconciling California's reputation as a bastion of liberalism with the self-evident inequality, failing schools, gated communities, etc., but now it is becoming clear that what the Democrats have done is simply dump one set of constituences for another.

I wonder what all of this means for the Republicans, and would be curious to see your thoughts on the matter. The emergence of the likes of Huckabee, Jindal, and even Palin suggests the party might be on a cusp of transforming itself into an American equivalent of Christian Democrats. McCain's current rhetoric suggests this is where he might be wanting to take it. Because if the lower middle class is up for grabs, it is only a matter of time before someone grabs it. One of the key assumptions in the Democratic self-reinvention and movement away from representing the interests of the working class is that the GOP could never exploit that. But they can, and my prediction is that if Obama wins that's the sort of GOP we will see in 4 years, the party of "globalization losers" who don't get to shop in Whole Foods. Rhetorically the GOP is already there.

Annie said...

...She( Hillary) and her supporters had to be turned into racists to avoid discussing the economics interests Obama did not deign to address.


This excellent post explains like nothing else has, why the Dem elite rejected Hillary , cheated for Obama and threw away an easy victory to the White House. It also explains the hysteria over Palin's pic , as that raises these issues again.... ones they thought were dead and buried.

But what it also suggests for Hillary's future is troubling since the rejection of her and her voters by the Dem elite is so ingrained. If Barry gets in, or even if he loses to McCain, Hillary , the most loyal of Dems, might have to become an independent to survive. That, or she will take over a wrecked party. However because losing never, ever ,seems to dislodge Dem elite from Party power ,the same elite fire wall could well be there to reject Hill in 2012.

The ultimate shadow of Reagan is that you don’t win by defending losers, only by securing the interests of the winners. That is the dark heart beating in the chest of the Unity Democrats. They are done with the losers.

Ah, the old comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted. Well there is a party for that already. It's called the GOP and they are way better at this than the idjit Dem elite. They at least have an everyman myth
in place as they comfort the comfortable. They repect their base enough to lie to them. Dems have....what?...just tapped out white guilt?

So let's review: Clinton Dems work to make winners out of society's losers, while Obamacins just leave them by the road....but expect their vote anyway.

In the financial shake down to come, increasingly
more and more people will find themselves on the road side. Even if that wasn't true , the Obama concoction cannot last, since it based on no governance actually being done, but a continuation of Bush neglect of everything but the stealing.

If Barry wasn't Bush 4.5, the press would not love him so much. McCain is not enough like Bush for them. If Barry gets in, the Dem brand could well be destroyed utterly and by 2010 say hello to a GOP super majority....

Also have you seen the ads for the movie Lakeview Terraces? Where Samuel Jackson is a crazed AA policeman terrifying a white neighbor? The timing of this movie makes me dust off my tin foil hat. Someone wants to promote racial discord and badly.
This movie seems to aim at inflaming both races.

Thank you for your great writing

Craig Della Penna said...

I think your analysis of the Unity Democrats is spot on... also, by focusing only on their own interests, they have lost the view of the forest. To the extent that the UDs bought into the Reagan fantasy, they became unwitting pawns to the corporatist/fascist power base he represented - that GWB represented - and that BHO now represents.
In a way, it's the ultimate karmic joke: by abandoning the blue-collar, unionist, dare I say, proletariat, the UDs are now wholly-owned subsidiaries of GlobalCo: "Meet the new boss..."

lakelobos said...

What happened to the Democratic party has happened to other social democratic parties in the west.

The weight of the Whole Food Nation and its modifying power of the Democrats happened in other countries whether the have Whole Food or not. Of course, Reagan doesn't isn't a factor in other countries. In Israel, were the Labor party is similar to the US Democratic party exactly the same change occurred. Affluence, need for money for the general elections, (in Israel) a huge high tech section which is very socially liberal have changed the labor party from a workers party to an amalgam of middle class fragments. At the same time, labor issues have suffered, workers have become a smaller element in the party and from a leftist party, the Labor has become a centrist one.

cellocat said...

I have been distressed over the Democrats' apparent lack of interest or ability to align their actions with their values, the core platform issues we have discussed so many times like health care, combining economic justice with working toward a better environment, etc.

But reading your post, I am thinking that my definition of what it means to be a Democrat, my concept of the identity of the party, is now fundamentally different than that of the party leadership. And, that I have been taken in by rhetoric over the years. It's been too easy to assume that they really are working toward the goals we've all said are important, and that the only reason that they haven't made more progress is the intrasigent Republican resistance. But the past two years and this election season have started to really disabuse me of that notion.

After all, couldn't we have fought the appointments of Roberts & Alito & Thomas? Couldn't the Congress have registered more than a pro-forma protest once the Dems gained the majority, instead of immediately taking impeachment off the table?

I have thought for some years that we need a multi-party system; the two parties are trying to be all things to all people within their big tents, and it doesn't work. If there were a few parties with sufficient representation in government to give them an adequate amount of power with which to negotiate, but insufficient power to go it alone, then perhaps huge segments of the population wouldn't get left by the roadside. Instead of the easy good/bad descriptions each party indulges in constantly, the approach could be more moderated; voters could see pros and cons in a variety of parties, and vote on the issues rather than just on party alignment/loyalty or a sense that there's nowhere else to go.

Imagine having another party to go to, one with the appeal (for me anyway) of the Green Party, but with enough power to be part of the negotiations and workings of the federal government. If only....

show me said...

I'm not sure everyone in the so called creative class is so secure.Seems to be quite a few of them hitting the streets in the Wall Street meltdown and it is hard to see them getting reabsorbed quickly. Judging by the recent hysteria of the cable guys seems they might be worth a little less this week. they haven't been worried about blue collars who have been hurting for years,but if their second homes are being threatened maybe things will change a little. Probably wishful thinking.

scott said...

I basically agree with the thrust of your argument, and it's pretty clear that the Blogger Boiz in particular symbolize the whole Affluent White Educated Dudes mafia dynamic that you see taking over the Party. I think you might be painting with too broad a brush, however, especially on the margins. By conviction or because he knows the hopey-changey thing is wearing thin, Obama's convention speech and his speeches on Colo. this week are pretty unapologetic attacks on how the GOP has rigged the game for its friends and screwed the rest of us economically. Biden's speech in Michigan was keyed to the same message. That may or may not be what they really care about if you put them on Pentothal, but it is what they're saying, and it's a standard Democratic message.

The conviction has grown with me that, whatever his ideological or post-partisan (wtf??) commitments are, Obama has a healthy sense of self-preservation, and he needs stuff that will work politically, especially when things get dicey like the last couple of weeks. I don't think it escaped his notice that he got his ass handed to him repeatedly during the 2nd half of the primary season when HRC abandoned or softpedaled the Comforting Experienced Establishment Leader shtick and embraced her inner class warrior. On the strategic level I think he has all the historical and economic understanding of a modestly promising undergraduate freshman, but tactically he's fairly shrewd (after all, he won the fucking primaries even though more people voted for his opponent!). It would suprise me not at all that he'd realize that the core economic argument of the Democratic Party had worked for Hillary in the primaries and use it for his own benefit when he got in a tight spot (like now).

Palomino said...

@ scott:

On the strategic level I think he has all the historical and economic understanding of a modestly promising undergraduate freshman, but tactically he's fairly shrewd (after all, he won the fucking primaries even though more people voted for his opponent!). It would suprise me not at all that he'd realize that the core economic argument of the Democratic Party had worked for Hillary in the primaries and use it for his own benefit when he got in a tight spot (like now).

Obama "won" the primaries, first, because of fraud in the caucuses, which were inherently overweighted to begin with in determining the final result, and, second, because the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the DNC broke its own rules to hand him the nomination. Sorry to revisit old territory yet again, but the facts are what they are.

There is also the overarching fact that shrewdness is not the same thing as intelligence. And, yes, as you say, it probably did not escape Obama's notice that he had his ass handed to him repeatedly during the final primaries. But that still doesn't mean that he knows anything about framing the core economic arguments of what used to be the Democratic Party, or that he even understands what those core economic arguments are. Indeed, the evidence I've seen points to a different conclusion.

YAB said...

I think henryftp hit on something important in his comment about the Republican reaction to the Goldwater defeat.

I'm old enough to remember when the Republican Party seemed to be dead. Yet, if my memory does not betray me, the Republican Conservatives didn't hang their heads and renounce their beliefs. They dug in. They kept up the same mantra (small govt., lower taxes, etc.) with, of course, an added boost from the fall out from the Civil Rights Movement.

So, good as your analysis is, it still doesn't explain to me what happened to the RFK Democrats, the people who believed in creating a more equal, a fairer society. The people who fought for civil rights and feminism. Nixon and Watergate and Vietnam seemed to wear them down, to break them.

Was it the riots? The increased crime? Perhaps. But they didn't fight back. School prayer, the Miranda Decision (if Agatha Christie's detective stories are to be believed, English cops gave that warning as far back as the 1920s, but Conservatives acted as if it meant turning the streets over to the thugs.) Each victory generated a backlash from Conservatives that liberals seemed unable or unwilling to counter.

They let, and still permit, Conservatives to frame all the issues. Not only don't they attack, they don't even defend. It's as if a loss at the polls was enough to convince them that their core beliefs were wrong. (Is that being outer-directed rather than inner-directed?)

Another ex: Prop. 13 in California is responsible for its schools going from among the best in the country to among the worst. But Democrats talk about school choice.

Our infrastructure is in shreds. But where is the Democrat who will tell people that it costs money to fix roads and bridges, who will tell them they have a choice: higher taxes or more potholes.

For decades, I have waited for another RFK to take the Democratic Party back to its FDR roots. Hillary isn't Bobby, but she is the closest we have to that combination of political smarts and desire to make things better. (Bill never quite brought that special kind of fervor that I wanted to see in a Democrat. He, too, was trying not to frighten Republican supporters.)

I have begun to wonder if there is something fundamentally amiss in the liberal psyche, a lack of some firmness of conviction that only Conservatives are born with.

Annie said...

Indeed Stevensonian Dems don't like fighting. They expect the correctness their positions to be answer enough. But when does that stop the GOP? When the battle is joined, the Dems basically wring their hands as the GOP rain blows upon them. Finally they play dead so the beating will stop. Because Dems seemingly cannot fight for themselves, people believe, then they surely will not fight for others.....such as those who vote for them. After seeing the Dem congress do all it can to help Bush, and only fight those within the party that oppose Bush, I have to agree with this assessment....and I have been a Dem for 40 years.

Susan said...

This is all about manipulation, period. One doesn't have to write 10,000 words to state the obvious.

The difference between the dirty tricks of the Nixon era and today is what Nixon's people did was illegal, but what has been done to the Democratic Party now is entirely legal.

The media, in cahoots with the GOP, forced Obama on us, and the nutroots followed suit. The DNC didn't want to offend a key constituency and allowed Obama to slide in. However, I am coming to the conclusion that because the country IS in such bad shape, they are deliberately throwing the election to McCain. There is no other logical explanation.