Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

More on Beinart

It turns out that Jonah Goldberg wrote a piece on the Peter Beinart article I mentioned below, and he has some more comments here
on Beinart’s lonely voice.

Discussions - 2 Comments

I give Beinart a cheer and a half for having his heart in the right place, but I have a hard time taking him seriously.

For one thing, talk of "purging" and American political party is idle (never mind its creepy Stalinist overtones). American parties have no central membership-control body or the like--they can’t throw anyone out. People "join" by citing a party preference when they register to vote, and then are free to give money or time, etc., and parties naturally tend to reflect the "bottom-up" influence of those who choose to join, donate, volunteer, etc.--in other words, the parties’ tops ultimately come to reflect their "bases" (whether basic in terms of numbers, funds, or activism), at least on the issues that those bases regard as highly salient.

So there’s no "purging" the Deaniacs and the Michael Moore-ons.

What happens to American parties is not top-down purges, but more bottom-up splits. A Whig-like split is far more likely to be the Democrats’ fate than any purge. In fact, the Democrats have been splitting off people for years (white Southerners, Catholics, etc.). The Deaniacs (I’m using the term broadly) are now the most likely candidates to take over the Democratic party’s central (mostly fundraising) apparat from the corrupt, inept Clinton holdovers now running it. If and when that happens, expect more migrations of center-right Democrats toward the GOP column, with the "Democratic Party" label lingering as the name of a leftist rump.

Another thing I find notable is Beinart’s odd lack of ability to draw historical connections. He starts with the ADA’s founding in 1947, but fails to note that the ADA orientation within the Democratic Party was precisely what suffered decisive defeat in 1968. Had he included the end of the ADA’s 20-year run in his analysis, he’d then have to face the fact the "spirit of 68"--i.e., a leftist dislike and distrust of "Amerika" and its alleged gross unworthiness at home and warmongering imperialism abroad--is not only the spirit that crushed the ADA’s influence 36 years ago, but also the spirit that predominates within the Democratic base (and therefore within the Democratic Party as a whole) to this day. Howard Dean and Michael Moore are the children of that successful leftist assault on the Cold War liberalism of the ADA. Their hatred and fear of "Amerika" and American power are at bottom the same hatred and fear that actuated the anti-American American leftists of 1968. While he burst upon the public scene a few years later, in 1971, John Kerry’s record as an anti-American Vietnam War highlights precisely this connection between the mobs in Chicago 68 and the Democratic Party today, and explains why the Swift Boat ads hit home with such devastating force. Beinart needs to confront these harsh (for him and his side) facts BEFORE he can begin offering Democrats who share his better instincts advice about how to get their party out of the trap that the spirit of 68 and its children have led that once-great party into.

Whoops, I meant to type:

"have to face the fact THAT the ’spirit of 68’"

and

"John Kerry’s record as an anti-American Vietnam War PROTESTOR highlights"

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