Friday, November 12, 2004

Shedding the party of Democrats

Kos writes:
Take out Clinton from the equation, and we haven't had any real electoral success at the federal level in over a generation. Is Dean the answer? Who knows, but what do we have to lose? It's not as if the current crew have any clue about winning.
So since Clinton has been the Democrats' only electoral success in a generation, shouldn't we try to emulate his centrist agenda?
And this crap about being a "moderate" party is just that -- crap. We got the independent voters this time. Didn't mean shit. We still lost. The Republicans learned this years ago. It's about time we learn the lesson. This doesn't mean becoming the party of Dennis Kucinich. It means becoming the party of Democrats, unafraid to stand for something other than Republican-lite.
But isn't it clear at this point that the electorate doesn't want this? Haven't the Democrats been the party of Democrats for the last generation? Come to think about it, who were the only Democratic candidates to buck this trend in the post-Nixon era? Could it have been Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton? Isn't it odd that they are the only presidents that Democrats have elected since 1964?

What Kos doesn't realize is that we were given an answer in 1992 by Bill Clinton. His answer was that the Democrats should no longer be the party of big government, welfare and taxes, but the party of smaller government, personal responsibility, opportunity and fiscal conservatism. And this message was wildly successful for eight years with everyone EXCEPT Republicans. Why? Because it kept them out of power for eight years.

But this message has been widely disregarded by Democrats. Many like Kos probably think that the message is not liberal enough. That it did not "stand for something other than Republican-lite." The Clinton message did not mean becoming Republican-lite, like the Kerry message did. There is a difference between Republican-lite and centrism. Republican-lite means parading around the Democratic convention as if you would single-handedly slaughter each and every terrorist. Clinton raised taxes. Clinton banned assault weapons. Clinton was pro-choice. He did not abandon traditionally liberal principles. But he also reformed welfare, balanced the budget and was willing to send troops and aid abroad if there was a grievous violation of human rights.

It's not moral values the Red states really care about. Despite Monica Lewinsky and all the other scandals, Clinton would have been re-elected in most of the Red states he consistently carried in 2000 had he been able to win. Paraphrasing Clinton, you can't have good government without good policy AND good politics. The message of big government is not good politics. As much as some would like to believe this is not true, or if it is that we should not "abandon our principles in the face of opposition," none of this matters if you cannot get elected and even if you can, if there is not broad-based support for your ideas, they are guaranteed to fail.

You can say it's simply because of Clinton's ability to carry a simple message to the people and his unmatchable charisma. I would argue that it was the simple message that was of primary importance. The Democrats still have not realized that it is this progressive (yes, progressive) message that allows them to win national office and if they do not shed, once and for all, the obscure, tired, obese, dated, and most importantly of all, unsuccessful machinery that is "the party of Democrats."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can the Democratic party create an image of rationality and efficiency? Aren't these the qualities voters would like to see? But are these qualities even approachable in a society overwhelmed with emotion and need? Bill Clinton's prime qualities were his chrisma, as you stated, and his ability to look at issues from many perspectives and speak to them publically. He had a calmness and an intellect that created confidence. Democrats need another candidate with those personal attributes...So far, Hillary comes to mind.

5:19 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home