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March 02, 2005

The Democratic Underground Ain't Underground Anymore

It's mainstream now, baby.

This is a struggle of good and evil. And we’re the good. -- Howard Dean, Chariman of the Democratic National Committee

Via PoliPundit, who now brands the Democratic Party a religious cult.

I feel like he could have gone even stronger with his language. -- Katherine Dessert, a student and preschool teacher in the audience, finding Dean's Good/Evil dichotomy a bit too nuanced for her tastes.

From Kausfiles (scroll down to Sunday, Feb. 27th.)

Meanwhile, "The Conscience of the Senate," former KKK Kleagle Robert Byrd (D-WV), compared the GOP's consideration of the so-called "nuclear option" to end judicial fillibusters to the machinations of Hitler's Third Reich, and finds the GOP to be rather shabby by comparison:

"For the temporary gain of a handful of out-of-the-mainstream judges, some in the Senate (search) are ready to callously incinerate each senator's right of extended debate," Byrd said in remarks on the Senate floor.

...

Byrd compared the move, not yet undertaken, to Hitler's abuse of power.

"Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality. He recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side," he said.

From FoxNews.

The Republican Party

Keeping the trains running on time since 1994.

What to take from all of this?

Well, the first response is to simply say that viral moonbattery has now infected the Democratic Party from ward captain to its highest elected officials. But that's, frankly, old news, and furthermore, it's too easy.

The Democrats are not stupid. They're doing this for a reason.

The Democrats' jaws dropped to the floor when they watched KKKarl Rove troop out new Republican voter after new Republican voter in red-leaning counties across the country.

They were aghast that they had just undertaken their most effective get-out-the-vote campaign in history -- aghast that they had actually out-raised Republicans in money -- aghast that they garnered the most votes for a Democratic candidate for president, ever -- and lost anyway, because the GOP was just a little bit better at turning out -- "exciting" -- its base.

They have decided they won't have their base be the second-most excited in 2006 or 2008. They've decided to start campaigning now, and campaigning not with the nuance and moderation likely to attract centrists and independents, but with the venom and red-meat likely to turn out Naderites and just-plain-leftists for the Democratic Party.

And if this alienates some moderates-- so be it. They have decided that the name of the game is base politics, in both meanings of that phrase.

Will this work? I don't know if it can. For one thing, as regards the raw numbers, "excitable" base conservatives outnumber "excitable" base liberals by 3:2, at least according to self-identification. Even assuming that there are more potential liberals out there -- people so outside the mainstream that they usually don't even vote, people who are very liberal but just won't admit it, even to a pollster-- it would seem that the GOP has a solid advantage as far as the ideologically committed.

For another thing, and this is the Democrats' main problem: they complain of the Republicans' use of "wedge issues" against them -- gay marriage, abortion, etc. -- but "wedge issue" seems to mean, to them, "an issue that cuts against and so we think it's darned unfair of you to keep harping on it."

But what excited the Republican base was Bush's delivery on important substantive political issues: tax cuts, pushing for more a more mainstream judiciary, protecting marriage from redefinition by judges, outlawing one of the more vile sorts of abortions.

And of course standing firm by the principle that the United States Government has the right, and the obligation, to protect its citizens against foreign threats, no matter what Dominique De Villiapain might say about it.

The Democrats may not like those issues, and they may claim (as they do, each and every election cycle) that any issue that hurts them is simply illegitimate and un-American to even discuss publicly, but they are in fact real issues the American people care about.

So: that is how the Republican Party went about exciting its base.

The Democrats, meanwhile, seem to be merely offering nothing but superheated rhetoric about "evil" and "Hitler." Why is it that Democrats beging to hem and haw when Al Qaeda butchers are called evil, but castigate Howard Dean for calling 50% of his fellow American law-abiding citizens evil because he didn't use strong enough language?

True enough, Senator Byrd is discussing a legitimate issue-- he's on the wrong side of it, of course, but he is playing the judge card to excite his base, the same as Bush played it to excite his, and there's no dirty pool in that.

But... comparing the Republican Party to the Nazi Party? And finding the latter to be... more principled in its fidelity to the law?

The issues that excited the Republican base were, mostly, issues that also attracted moderate voters, by and large. Moderate voters might not be as anti-tax as Republicans, but they like tax cuts. Moderate voters might have had more anxiety and second-thoughts about Iraq than most Republicans, but they still supported Bush's decision to invade Iraq, even if, strangely enough, they thought the war was a mistake by November 2004.

But the point is: the issues that excited the base were either attractive to moderates, mildly to strongly, or were a bit of a wash, or (as with the judiciariy) just something they didn't care very much about either way.

The Democrats, meanwhile, seem to be attempting to energize their base not with matters of substance or principle but with increasingly intemperate language from increasingly high-ranking elected officials.

Will that also play well with the moderates?

I have to think it won't. Moderates seem to want above all concord and civility an compromise and "niceness," for lack of a better word.

I just don't seen Dean's Aragorn-inspired speechifying on good and evil, or a former KKK Klansman's thoughts about Hitler, doing much to convince the moderates that the Democrats are the party that's more interested in "civility" and "results" than "negative attacks" and ideology.

Update: Soxblog has similar thoughts in a piece he pens for -- God, I'm so jealous I could spit a kidney -- the Weekly Standard online.


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posted by Ace at 02:33 AM

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