The Democratic Party is at another crossroads. Unlike their conservative counterparts, who have gained political traction with a non-stop rallying war cry and ominous predictions of social upheaval (from both inside and outside), the Democrats are beset with a fraying fabric of leftist politics and Clintonian neo-liberal economics.
What Clinton did so well: bringing together disparate factions in a contraindicative mass whose shared commonality became Clintonian style compassion, is now wholly absent from the party. In other words, policies that reached upward without, apparently, offending the mainstream. More than that, the Clinton administration was able to make Americans and Democrats feel simultaneously guilty and good- a powerful political mix, indeed.
Today the Democrats find themselves feeling not so well. The political temperature is rising and there is queasiness among the left as the Democratic leadership adopts the same tactics as social and religious conservatives; scaring the party into the center of mainstream politics vis-퀌�-vis the Democratic Leadership Council and warnings of leftist irrelevancy. The vibrancy of progressive politics in the Democratic Party, instead of being the a door ajar to the reality of more liberalized America, is being figured as a slippery slope (the most overused of political clich퀌� since “politically correct”) by the likes of such power brokers as Joe Lieberman, Terry McCauliffe and Dick Gephardt.
What these type of Democrats fail to realize, is, that if they alienate the heart of their party (the progressive and leftist wings) they lose their compassion and connection with the majority of Americans. Sure, America loves to hate the Democratic Party because it loves to hate the realization that, yes, progress has to be championed. It is not an inevitable conclusion of free markets and the majority of Americans understand this quite deeply. The tendency of the electorate to inevitably champion ‘fairness’ is the ongoing attraction of the young, the females and the educated to the party.
This brings us to Howard Dean. His own party is pillorying him because of his ‘liberalness’, which according to Democratic moneymen will not get him elected. They are seeking to sabotage a grassroots campaign that has enlivened a core of voters (Democrat and non-Democrat, alike) who find reassurance in the fact that he is asking the uncomfortable questions about recent foreign policy disasters and, which inevitably, make the Bush administration look ever more callous (see “Bush is bringin’ it” www.dailyvanguard.com).
The alienation he has received (and let’s make it clear that Howard Dean does not have my overwhelming support) at the hands of the Democratic Leadership Council is inexcusable. The DLC wants him to go away, because he is forcing them to enter the fray of terrorism, Iraq, nuclear proliferation, and the Bush administration’s almost ridiculous (and dangerous) war machine.
The DLC believes the economy is the key to the Presidency of 2004. Clinton administration strategist James Carville’s maxim “It’s the economy, stupid” is still true to an extent, but America looks completely different than in 1992. It’s the economy, it’s a president who led his people to war using “Red Dawn” scenarios, and it is a country that is finally struggling to come to terms with what diversity really looks like (and is not George W. Bush’s silly Sesame Street level Spanish).
The Democratic Party has a future within an America with an ’emerging Democratic majority’. It will not be achieved, however, by joining the conservative picnic serving Red Alerts, listening to Toby Keith and waiting for the sky to fall.