Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The return of the DLC

Over at Booker Rising, a black moderate/conservative blog that kindly links to The Reaction, Shay posts on the Democratic Leadership Council's meeting in Columbus, a meeting headlined by the moderate likes of New York Senator Hillary Clinton (is she a moderate?), Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, Virginia Governor Mark Warner, and Iowa Governor (and new DLC Chair) Tom Vilsack -- all of them eyeing 2008, of course. Shay: "The DLC is headed in the right direction. Democrats were stupid to discard the strategy that enabled them to elect and re-elect a Democrat for the first time in decades. Instead, the unsuccessful leftist wing has hijacked the party." (I see that Amba comments here.)

I'll have more to say about the state of the Democratic Party in the days ahead, when I look at why Republicans are winning and Democrats are losing.

For now, given how late it is, suffice it to say that I agree with Shay... to a point. Although I tend to side with the DLCers against, say, the Deaniacs, I worry that the Democrats, as per usual, are engaging in vicious internecine strife at the expense of party unity. The two major American parties, after all, are big-tent parties, and electoral success often means harnessing the strengths of internal diversity and translating them into a coherent platform with broad appeal to a diverse electorate. (If you want ideologically rigid parties, go to Europe and seek out PR electoral systems.) Internal debates may be useful in a stimulating sort of way, and I certainly prefer parties that allow for dissent over ones that enforce conformity, but narrow ideological squabbling tends to be counter-productive by diverting attention away from the ultimate goal of electing candidates.

Why can't the DLCers and the Deaniacs and all the other sub-groups of Democrats just get along? Can't they see that they have a common opponent? Don't they realize that they won't succeed without each other? Or would they all rather be ideologically pure than politically successful? Time will tell. 2006 is right around the corner.

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  • I rarely agree with leftists and, as you know, I'm pretty moderate myself. I certainly supported the DLC's efforts to move the party toward the center and I voted for Clinton because I perceived he was a moderate.

    But I think liberals have a point that the DLC is in danger of turning the Democrats into GOP lite. It seems to me that the Democrats have to do more than simply split the difference on every issue. They are going to have to distinguish themselves from Republicans in real ways. For example, they are, IMO, going to have to start defending the idea of more activist government rather than trying to beat the GOP on its own ground of small government. I'm not advocating going back to Great Society-type social programs, but they have to make a positive case for government because, after all, that is the primary difference between Democrats and Republicans. I think the DLC-types have tried to split the difference too much. It's fine to say that we believe in a strong military, etc, but why advocate, for example, allowing army recruiters on campus. I have no problem with that, but why make that a campaign theme. Why don't Democrats emphasize that, sure, we need a strong military, but we don't need to be a garrison state. In other words, let's make our differences with the Republicans a positive rather than trying to fuzz them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:17 AM  

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