Old Democrats


Says today's Washington Post:

Ten years after Bill Clinton proclaimed a centrist "New Democrat" revolution, the left is once again a driving force in the party.

They do not call themselves "liberals" anymore; the preferred term today is "progressives." But in other ways, they are much the same slice of the electorate that dominated the Democratic Party from 1972 to the late 1980s: antiwar, pro-environment, suspicious of corporations and supportive of federal social services.

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  1. Does this mean the word “liberal” is up for grabs for classical liberals?

  2. Dem Wonk, for a wonk you sure seem… unnuanced.

    You really think that everyone who voted for Gore will go Dem in ’04, except for the 3% of moderates who will swing to Bush?

    I have always heard that the middle 10% – 20% is usually up for grabs in any contested election.

    You also think the Republican grass roots organizers are paid, full time “grass roots”? Ho ho ho. That’s a good one. ROTFLOL

    On the other hand, the union organizers who run the Dems “get out the vote” efforts do seem flush with “street money”…

  3. For those interested in progressives and their philosophies, I reccommend the Progressive magazine. http://www.progressive.org/

    Notice the “.org” that means their not evil capitalist bastards like Reason.

    You can find their paper copy at most college libraries and major bookstore. Sad to say it but, they’re carried at Yale, while Reason isn’t. 🙁

  4. DLC-type Democrats are exactly the same as mainstream Republicans (both country club types and neocons) when it comes to “free trade.” That is, they like to use the word a lot, but what they mean by it is mercantilism, enforced by multilateral agencies that amount to a global regulatory state.

    If there’s any hope for a libertarian coalition, it’ll include:

    1) Old Right types who believe in genuine free trade and free markets (free trade as defined by Cobden, not Palmerston);

    2) libertarians who can frame their arguments with reference to the anti-worker, anti-consumer, anti-small business effects of the present corporatist regime;

    3) and lefties who can pull their heads out of their asses enough to realize that government is the problem, not the solution: the regulatory state CREATES oligopoly, because big business wants it.

    In other words, people on the right who genuinely value freedom as a principle rather than just as a rhetorical cover for corporate interests. And people on the left who don’t just use populist rhetoric to justify giving them dictatorial power over the publick skools and welfare state.

  5. #1 is a myth, Old Rightists are protectionists like Pat

    #2 is good, but still won’t work very well as for leftists, markets = capitalism = evil system.

    #3 is dead on, but will never happen.

    “In other words, people on the right who genuinely value freedom as a principle rather than just as a rhetorical cover for corporate interests”

    not sure if you see all conservatives as “neocons” but many NRO conservatives or libertarain Republicans are in favor of free markets. they just don’t think it has a chance in hell of happening immeidatley. for them it is a strategy thing of slow reform.

    the average person on the street (GOP or Dem) is clueless on political and economics issues, so their behaviour are not even worth discussing rationally.

    i know you have a Left fetish — but I really think that when leftists say they hate markets, free trade, business (of any size) – they really mean it!

  6. The problem with the Dems is that they’ve figured out America doesn’t like liberalism (as in leftism, not as in classical liberalism). They know that America doesn’t want stridently leftist policies, so they propose incremental measures, with no coherent vision.

    Conservatives don’t yet realize that most of America probably doesn’t subscribe to the full GOP platform, so they go in with confidence. They say “Here’s what we’re going to do…” and then rattle off a plan. Whether they follow through on the plan in office is a different matter, but the point is that they put forward a plan.

    If you’re a moderate, a libertarian, or a none-of-the-above who calls it as you see it issue-by-issue, the guy with a plan will still look a lot better than the guy who doesn’t really know what he should advocate. Hence the GOP is doing well right now.

    I long for the days of a Democrat in the White House. The GOP Congress always mounted effective opposition to anything the White House proposed. By contrast, the Democratic Congress has no spine whatsoever.

  7. quick reply to fetchett:

    > You really think that everyone who voted for
    > Gore will go Dem in ’04, except for the 3% of
    > moderates who will swing to Bush?

    any answer to this question would simply be pissing in the wind. no one has any clue what’s going to transpire over the next year and a half that might swing the election in one direction or another.

    what the nader hypothetical represents is democratic base reclamation. the pessimist says the dems are screwed if they do, screwed if they don’t. in other words, a dlc candidate will 1) fail to energize the base and suffer low voter turnout in dem performing precincts, 2) face formidable green opposition, and 3) appeal to dlc moderates who’ll help deliver a respectible dem loss in 04. hubert humphrey strikes again. for the dem pessimist, its either humphrey, or a far worse fate: another mcgovern/mondale.

    like i said before, anything can happen between now and 11/04. the dlc could clearly articulate a coherent, antithetical vision to bushy’s america. if they do, my argument in the previous paragraph is bullshit. if they don’t and present the vision of 2002, the dlc dem will most certainly lose. the progressives have a message. dean’s organization is unprecedented in presidential politics at this point during the campaign – a year and a half out. organization means a lot in politics. admittedly, the libs are betting on a long shot. remember, a lot can happen between now and 11/04. don’t count anyone out yet.

    > You also think the Republican grass roots
    > organizers are paid, full time “grass roots”?
    > Ho ho ho. That’s a good one. ROTFLOL

    darrell issa thinks that’s hysterical.

    > On the other hand, the union organizers who run > the Dems “get out the vote” efforts do seem
    > flush with “street money”…

    and jeb puts cop cars outside of high dem perf precincts.

    i don’t know how confident i’d be about union strength. would you rather have corporate barons or union bosses bankrolling your campaign in 2004?

  8. What the article describes is a complete breakdown on the left brought about by the fact the George W. Bush drives some parts of the left absoutely crazy the same way that Bill Clinton drove some parts of the right crazy. Neither one of them are idealogues or extremists(except perhaps for Bush on foreign policy), but for some reason they just bring out irrational, visceral hatred on the other side, which ultimately serves to weaken the other side. Its a result of what seemes to the other side to be completely inexplicable, counter-intuitive, mounting success. For example: Clinton gets a few blow jobs in the oval office and then lies about it under oath, and his approval ratings shoot through the roof and the more Republicans talk about it the higher his approval ratings go. Bush says “Bring it on!” offending sensibilities from Berkley to Burlington. Julian Sanchez is shocked, shock I tell you, while the vast majority of Americans between the two coasts think its pretty cool that the president talks like that.

    This kind of stuff drives the other side absolutely moonbatty, which strengthens Bush/Clinton all the more. Bush has now apparently driven the left so crazy they think that a failed former mayor of Cleveland would make a good president. I don’t actually think Kucinich will win the real primary, but whoever does will have been forced so far in to la la land by the continually escalating rhetoric that they wouldn’t stand a chance against toe fungus in the general election. I predict the first ever 50 state win by Bush in 2004, if things continue in this vein that is.

  9. ^ well, since unions are now irrelevant see Economist of some weeks ago) i’d prefer companies.

    oh wait too bad that the vast majority of 1 million dollar donations was for democrats. all donations in 2000 of over 1 million wer to democrats. democrats have a distinct disadvantage to republicans in quantity of donations; the used to win by quality (size) but mccain feinglds scotched that.

  10. “I predict the first ever 50 state win by Bush in 2004, if things continue in this vein that is.”

    moi aussi, E.D., and Karl ROve does too.

  11. Pride goeth before a fall. What goes up must come down. Remember Bush 41. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

    God himself couldn’t sink this ship.

  12. the Wimp was hardly vey big.

  13. His approval ratings were even higher than his son’s.

  14. but clinton was clinton, wheras howard dean is… welll…howard dean.

    can you imagine the leader of the free world being named howard?

  15. Kucinic is a pot smokers pipe dream. Where he appeals to lefties over and over, the reality is he is far less electable than Dukakis ever was. I am sure many pot smokers as well as a bunch of ultra-lefties will recognize the unelectability of Kucinic and lean harder to someone with more electable clout.

    I predict one day that pot smokers will become a viable voter base and they will be enticed by both republicans and democrats. Of course, when that day comes maybe the 2 parties will be libertarians and greens!

  16. Basically, what’s going on in the Democratic party right is twofold:

    1. Older Democrats are predominantly ex-hippies trying to relive the 60’s

    2. Younger Democrats are predominantly the sons and daughters of ex-hippies trying to have their own 60’s

  17. Wait a sec, which part of the electorate _isn’t_ pro-environment and supportive of federal services?

    I mean, sure, with the exception of the Cato institute, there weren’t many conservatives making the case against the war, but it’s not as though the right wing in the United States runs on a platform of dismantling environmental regulations and comes out against Medicare, Social Security, and Pell grants.

  18. Dean – good point, I think you’re onto something there. The only significant difference between mainstream Dems and Repubs is that Repubs favor the war and Dems oppose it. That’s about it. Both seem hell-bent on expanding the size of the federal government of the W.S.A. (Welfare States of America).

  19. But count on 2004 being the election of Nixon 2

    Please explain.

  20. Bush is a Nixonian. The GOP is split between Nixonians, Jesusians and Goldwaterites.

    The Dems are split between Nixonians (clintonists), a few Kennedyites and McGovernists.

    as a libetarian I am cheering for the Goldwaterites.

  21. Brad, clearly the problem with ‘centrist’ “new democrats” is their lack of backbone and the inability to seperate themselves from mainstream republicans. This has driven the far left away from the centrists. Recalling the debates between Bush and Gore, both were basically agreeing with each other on policy. At least this is the usual gripe among my lefty friends.

    As much as reason subscribers hate to hear from Michael Moore, he hit it on the nose when he said that Republicans are up at 5 AM and by 6 AM, they are strategizing over coffee. Meanwhile, dems are up at 7 AM and by 8, they are still looking for their car keys. The early bird catches the worm.

  22. Tim did a rather clever bit about Dubya as Nixon a while back. (I believe this was in reaction to the ludicrous Dubya as Reagan meme that was floating around).

    Anyway Nixon was a huge spender and the size and scope of the federal govt grew enormously under his watch. He was also paranoid, secretive, and of an authoritarian bent. Sounds just like Dubs to me.

    Nixonians = big government Republicans.

  23. It’s not that I think “there is not difference between Democrats and Republicans,” it’s that the mainstream electorate (ie, the people who elect the democrats and republicans) favors what environmental regulations have done, enjoys the benefits of medicare and social security for their parents and pell grants for their kids, and is suspicious of the control wielded over them by great big HMOs.

    For a “liberal wing” of the Democratic party, they seem to be embracing a rather message that has been taken up by mainstream America.

  24. the democratic party must shed the ‘new democrat’ label. why? the answer’s simple, 2002. dems took a huge hit in 2002 mainly because no one knew the party’s values. the from dems chose to identify themselves as ‘not repubs.’ that strategy failed. it would be retarded for the dems to repeat it in 2004.

    base mobilization is at the essence of successful political campaigns. will joe lieberman or john edwards energize the base to become politically involved? no. will howard dean? yes. dean’s unprecedented, net-driven ‘meetups’ are drawing tens of thousands of potential volunteers to his campaign in the summer of 2003, a year and a half away from election day. let’s face it, grassroots, volunteer-based campaigns win. if the dean team continues to build their volunteer base, they might even be able to challenge bushy’s paid grassroots staff.

    democratic presidential candidates must guard their left flank. if lieberman/edwards/graham are nominated, it’s almost guaranteed that they will face formidable green opposition. the dems need to neutralize the appeal of the greens by taking back some of nader’s 3%. nader helped break the dems on 2000. if dean loses 2% of gore’s moderates and picks up nader’s activists; dean wins the election.

    new dems like to talk about mondale/mcgovern; why not talk about hubert humphrey? humphrey was uninspired. he failed to mobilize the activist left to his side. what happened? he lost. another mondale/mcgovern would be horrible for the dems. so would another humphrey.

  25. The New Democrats lost Congress my failing to offer a positive vision. Their only success came about because they ran an extremely charismatic southern presidential candidate at the same time Perot was siphoning off a disproportionate share of Republican votes.

    The “liberal” wing of the Democratic Party represents the majority of Americans, as Dean points out. The GOP has done an excellent job of getting the press to confuse this liberal wing with the tiny Kucinich wing.

  26. dem wonk – the problem with that is that in order for Dean to get the 3% bump from Nader activists, he would stand to lose substantially more than 2% in terms of Gore moderates.

  27. I don’t think the “liberal” wing of the Democratic party represents the majority of Americans. It might represent the majority of the people who live in San Francisco, or Portland, or Amherst, or possibly even NYC, but not the majority of the USA. The majority of the USA falls somewhere in what I call the “mainstream Republocrat/Demican web”. Sure, some call themselves Repubs, some call themselves Dems, but when you break it down, there’s not much difference between the two, other than Repubs generally support the war efforts while Dems generally oppose them. That’s really the only strong polarizing issue right about now. And what’s really pathetic is that, while neither side will admit it, if Gore was President, the Dems would support a war effort while Repubs would oppose it. In other words, the only significant polarizing issue between Dems and Repubs right now is polarizing only because of self-interest, not because of any fundamental philosophical difference between the two parties. Come to think of it, there really aren’t many fundamental differences between the mainstream of the two parties. Each has a lunatic fringe that makes some noise every now and then, but in DC, the mainstream rules, and a mainstream Dem is roughly = to a mainstream Repub.

  28. “The “liberal” wing of the Democratic Party represents the majority of Americans, as Dean points out.”

    Huh? This would explain all the “liberal” Democrats sitting in Governor’s mansions and acting as the speaker of all those state legislatures with “liberal” Democrat majorities.

    The fact is, a bona fide “liberal” Democrat (meaning one who is pro-choice, pro-union, pro-affirmative action, pro-regulation, pro-entitlement expansion, anti-education reform, anti-tax cut, and opposed to the war on Iraq or other “foreign adventures” that are less than purely humanitarian) is virtually unelectable in most of the country. The evidence is, well, in the election returns. The Republicans are praying for a Dean candidacy, because they know he will carry maybe one or two states.

  29. brad,

    let’s look at the numbers from 2000:

    nader won 2,882,955 votes.
    gore won 50,999,897 votes.

    nader voters constitute 5.65% of gore’s total. thus, if dean hypothetically picked up all of nader’s voters, he could stand to lose roughly 3% of gore’s moderates (assuming that some of them don’t vote, and others vote bushy).

    those are the numbers; the question is how many moderates would dean lose. i honestly don’t know if he’d lose that many. remember, dean’s pretty moderate when it comes to issues like gun control.

  30. “San Francisco, or Portland, or Amherst” No, that’s the Kucinich wing.

    Anon, liberal positions (again, not leftist ones) on the issues win solid-to-huge majorities in national polls. Abortion, worker-consumer-environmental regulation, Social Security, and health care are all owned by the Democrats, which is why the Republicans feel forced to take half measures and/or hide their true colors. Even taxes and economic growth now slightly favor the Democrats. And welfare, crime, and race relations are no longer the Republican gimmees, as they were through the 80s and early 90s. Why do you think Republicans try to make every election about “character?” Because they can’t win on their platform.

    Foreign policy and national defense still favor the Republicans, which means the Dems will frame their opposition in terms of Bush’s personal credibility.

    As in Israel, the public seems to want liberal policies, but they want a tough guy conservative to implement them.

    If Republicans are praying for Dean to win the nomination, why do they work so hard to discredit him?

  31. Once upon a time, politics was much easier to understand: conservatives let you keep all your money as long as they could tell you how to live your life, liberals left you alone in return for all your money. Now, alas, they both want to run your life and take your money and they differ only in the specifics of the agendas.

  32. but they have majority opinion! are you anti-democracy?

  33. 1. Al Gore proposed a $600 billion tax cut during thet campaign. Congressional Democrats sponsored a bill cutting taxes about that amount while the Bush cut was being considered. Solid majorities favored the Democratic cut. Democrats forced the child tax credit expansion through against the will of Republicans. Strong majorities opposed cutting the dividend income tax.

    2. The overturning of Roe v. Wade and an amendment to the federal constitution banning all abortion are part of the RNC platform. Neither command anything close to majority support.

    3. Polls show that the public trusts Democrats over Republicans on eduction policy.

    4. The only two Democratic Senate candidates in competitive elections that made stricter gun control part of their campaign message won in 2002, even as Democrats lost seats. Republican victories on this issue rely on using gun control as a proxy for social snobbery.

    If by “most of the USA,” you mean land area, you are correct. When mountain tops and prarie grasses are given the vote, there will be a permanent Republcan majority.

  34. ^or a pipe smoker’s pot dream.

  35. weakening national defense, making it easier for others to make war = anti-war

    destructive regualtions based on junk science = pro-enviroment

    suspicious of corporations = not suspicious of Democrat contributors

    supportive of federal social services = continued waste, destruction of liberties and more subsidized misery for the poor.

  36. Dem Wonk, most of what you describe as “liberal not leftist” is, well, pretty much what the DLC New Democrats proposed. The way the Dems differentiate themselves from the Republicans is by going harder and harder left. Many of the noticeable differences between Dems and Repubs don’t play well outside of hard-left enclaves.

    A few examples of issues where the “liberal”/left Dems have differentiated themselves:

    (1) Taxes. They oppose every tax cut. Nobody ever lost an election by supporting a tax cut, but plenty have lost elections by raising taxes.

    (2) Abortion. The Repubs have settled on a series of relatively marginal regulations – partial birth, consent, etc. The Dems are identified with abortion on demand. The polling supports the Repubs, and even women have gradually shifted sides.

    (3) Education. The Dems are vociferously opposed to doing anything with education other than dumping money on government schools. This polls less and less well.

    (4) Gun control. The liberal wing of the Democratic party wants stricter gun control. This is a losing proposition at the polls.

    Ultimately, though, the verdict on old-style liberal Dems has been delivered at the ballot box already – they are unelectable in most of the USA.

  37. A Party of Idiots

    The more that I listen to thse Democrats who are trying to be president in 2004 the more I want to slap some sense into them. Swear to Me that this is the biggest batch of loser idiots that I have seen trying to run for the presidency.

    Just today, in Florida, John Kerry said “Florida was the state where America’s democracy was wounded.”

    Excuse me, John, but isn’t Florida the state where millions of Democrat voters admitted that they didn’t know how to use a punch card to cast their vote with? Isn’t this the state where the Democrat voters wanted to re-vote because their guy didn’t win? Frankly, if they were too stupid to get their vote right the first time, I don’t want them getting to re-vote. But, tell me, how did it wound democracy by not letting them have a do-over?

    Then John Edwards said that “the problems in the previous presidential election were problems of civil rights and voting rights.” Um, I don’t recall anyone being prevented from going to the polls because of any violation of their civil or voting rights. In fact, all of those allegations were proven to be false accusations promoted by liars like Jesse Jackson.

    Then, he went on to say “Those of us from the South, we have a special responsibility when it comes to civil rights and voting rights. We cannot follow. We must lead.”

    Here is a novel idea – lead by learning how to use a freaking punch card for when you vote. And then, if you just can’t figure it out, don’t go whining about it when your guy doesn’t win, you big babies!

    Later on, Dick Gephardt and John Kerry promised to completely overhaul the policies of George W Bush. Um, I have to ask…are you guys talking about the policies that are bringing this economy screaming back at a rate not seen in the last 20 years? Are you talking about the policies that are making my paycheck a little bigger than they were? Are you talking about the policies of kicking ass when someone fucks with our country? Tell me, please, what are you talking about overhauling? I want specifics.

    After they were done with that, they both promised universal healthcare. You know, the kind of healthcare that they have in France, the place where a heat wave killed thousands of people. That’s the same kind of healthcare that they have in Canada, where their healthcare system is nearly bankrupt. That’s the same type of healthcare system that drives people to the USA so that they can get state of the art healthcare.

    And you know, we get shitty enough service with HMO’s and the other sorts of healthcare coverage that we have. Does anyone believe that a government run healthcare system is going to be better? And if you do…have you ever been to the post office?

    Later on, Edwards made one of the most ridiculous statements that I have ever heard by any presidential candidate. This dolt said that he will “end the day when millionaires sitting by their pools are getting a lower tax rate than their secretaries.”

    John, I hate to tell you, there is no secretary that is paying as much in taxes as any millionaire. Even if the millionaire had a lower tax rate, 30% of his taxable income is way more than 50% of hers. Not only that, but it is a flat out lie to even hint that a millionaire has a lower tax rate than some 40K per year secretary. Get back to reality, you imbecile.

    The really sad thing about this whole bit is that they are only pissed because it is a Republican in office and not a Democrat. Clearly, that is the only reason.

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