What Democratic Party?

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David Broder writes that "The Democrats have convinced most of the journalists covering their convention here that their party has eliminated most of its internal differences. That is true, unless you count the gap between the party's head and its heart."

For the WaPo columnist, the Boston convention was designed to camouflage the tension within the party between the moderate Democratic Leadership Council (the party's "head"), and the party's far more liberal activist base, "the people who actually turn out the votes that elect Democrats."

The DLC's Al From, writes Broder, "says confidently that 'the debate within the party is over and we have won.' Except it isn't."

This struggle within the party "plagued Clinton in his first two years, until he came down squarely on the DLC side after Republicans captured Congress in 1994. These divisions were an even worse problem for Al Gore in the 2000 campaign, with running mate Lieberman and other DLCers decrying his decision to run a 'people versus the powerful' campaign cheered on by the activist groups."

"So there are no divisions among the Democrats," concludes Broder, "except the one that will matter most if they again own the White House."

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  1. I have come to believe that contemporary politics for many people is more about social status and identity than ideas and policy. People ego identify with political entities in the same way they identify with sport teams. I believe this tendency is stronger on the Left than on Right.

    The division in the Democratic party is between the technocratic pragmatist DLC and the idealistic ego driven activist. The Democrats ended up with Kerry not because the activist liked him but because they believed his Vietnam service would sell him to the undecided. The activist support a candidate whose public policy statements they do not believe in because in the end they just want to win regardless of the policy eventually implemented.

    This ego and identity driven politics has crippled the Democratic party. The activist are mindless Leftist-conservative clinging to the centralized, hierarchal solutions of early and mid-20th century when Leftism was in it’s heyday. The activist can’t abandon the old solutions because they have bound their personal egos up in them.

    The Democrats will never return to prominence until they again become the forward looking party of progress that empirically seeks new pragmatic solutions to real world problems. That won’t happen until that generation that saw Leftism high-water mark in 60’s passes from power.

  2. I listened to the commentary after the convention and alot of buzz how Kerry was trying to bring the party more to the center. The only thing Dems are united in is their hatred of Bush, but that glue seems to be quite strong. The base of the Democratic party is extremely liberal and I really how much they will be able to tolerate this veering to the center to attract independents? All those left over Deaniacs etc etc. There is division in the Republican party, but I believe it’s the war and national security that prevents them from outragious in-fighting on domestic issues. If it were peace time, the Reps would be severely fractured.

  3. The current unity probably won’t last long, that’s for sure.

    I doubt it will last past November (assuming a Kerry win), and that Kerry will be trying to hold close the fracture before he even gets to put his hand on a Bible.

  4. It is all about who gets to be the alphas male. All the rest is the usual human sophistry. Our shit stinksd all right but it is the essence of the most sublime perfume. If you are good it is the finest floral scent. If you are bad it smells like shit. Uh. Right. Just a bunch of monkeys playing politics.

    BTW the Ds internal divisions are going to kill them before the election. You can see Kerry is having a very hard time holding the Party together. No mention of Iraq in his speech.

  5. Kerry will pretty much prove they have passed from national power. The question is how soon will they pass from the Democrat Party?

    I was a Liberal in the 60s. I am a Liberal now.

    I was a Democrat in the 60s. I am a Republican now.

    Go figure.

  6. It’s pretty clear from watching the convention, and comparing the floor speaches to the red-meat speeches around Boston (the Dean, Kucinich, Sharpton, Carville-led gatherings) that the Dems are torn between socially liberal regulatory state statists, and far left nihilistic Gramscian loonies with Stalinist leanings. I don’t see how this is a change from the last 20 years…

  7. Of course egos are bound up in party identities … but I don’t see this more on the left than on the right, and furthermore I don’t see it hamstringing anyone’s ability to change their “old solutions” any more than gardern variety stubborness does. In fact, you’re implicitely suggesting that the left is willing to swallow it’s policy differences with Kerry for the sake of winning. So which is it? Is the left hopelessly tangled in the failed policies of the past, or is it amorally willing to cheer on whoever they think can win?

  8. Omarosa was at the DNC supporting John Kerry.
    Omarsoa causing a stir

  9. The Dems let the “actvists” in and take them seriously (and lose). The Repubs let the bible beaters in and pay lip service to them (and win). But the activists at least have an alternative party to vote for, the bible beaters do not.

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