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December 10, 2004

Go Left

A lot of moderates are squealing that substantial chunks of the Democratic Party seem intent on moving to the left.

Many argue that we need two viable poltical parties, and that a move to the hard left will destroy the Democratic Party, leaving us with a dysfunctional one-party politics.

Well, that's not really true. Nature abhors a vacuum, and were the left-liberal coalition to fragment or alienate the middle, it would quickly create two different competing coalitions. We'd have a real Realignment, a realignment in which voting blocs actually swap political affiliations. Who knows-- it might even turn out beneficial.

But there's another reason not to fret. The left-liberals have been convinced for some time that America really wants a left-liberal or "progressive" agenda, and that what's holding them back has been the political cowardice of the Democratic leadership and candidates. Just like on at least thirty-seven West Wing "cliffhangers," the solution to declining popularity is to stop being mealy-mouthed and moderate and equivocating and just give the people what they so desperately crave-- uncompromising, unabashed, unafraid old-school fire-and-brimstone economic populism and pacificism/UN "multilateralism."

Here's the thing: this theory will continue to distort Democratic politics until it is actually tried. Until it is given a shot to work -- or fail -- we're going to continue to have a Democratic Party which simply refuses to take a clear stance as to what they actually believe. So many Democratic positions aren't coherent political positions at all, but mere positionings, incoherent shuffle-steps between the left-liberal wing and the centrist-liberals of the party.

So, why shouldn't Howard Dean become the DNC chief? Sometimes you need to experiment; sometimes you need to gamble; sometimes you actually need to test a theory, to see if it works or finally put it to rest-- hopefully for good.

Howard Dean was, I thought, something of a crank (and not a particularly intelligent one at that), but I have to give him props for being, at least most of the time, pretty clear about his actual politics. Yes, he backpedalled and equivocated and flip-flopped himself, but not nearly as much as the eventual nominee John Kerry.

As is the case with George Bush: When you listened to Howard Dean, you had a pretty fair sense of what his thinking was, and what he would do (or at least try to do) were he to actually be elected.

I think that's sort of important in politics; don't you? It may make the Democrats more electorally-viable to continue to hedge and equivocate, but that does a disservice to democracy, because real democracy demands that people make an informed decision as to which candidates they prefer; and when half the country's candidates are continually obfuscating, flip-flopping, and outright pandering to differing audiences, such an informed choice becomes impossible.

I heartily endorse Howard Dean for leader of the Democratic Party, and not just in a cynical, licking-my-chops way. It's about time this country had an actual, honest-to-goodness, fully-informed choice as to what each of the parties stand for.

Howard Dean may be a little dumb, but that has its benefits; he's a little too dumb to be strategically dishonest.

Let's have four years of real, muscular, honest liberal advocacy. If it works (and actually I have a small fear it might) then fine, the people will respond well to it, and we'll have a better idea of this nation's political temperment.

And if it doesn't work-- also fine. The left-liberal agenda will be discredited to the point where even left-liberals accept the need to support DLC-style candidates and stop their endless whining about the need to "stand up the Republicans."

And what, precisely, is wrong with any of that?

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posted by Ace at 02:09 PM

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