Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Demos’ self-destruction

Michael Gecan, who was in Chicago 32 years ago at a McGovern rally when Warren Beatty made a magical appearance, argues that he witnessed the self-destruction of the Dermocratic Party then, and it continues. He concludes:

It was as if they had never been there. And in a way, they never were. These two tendencies -- celebrity worship and quick-hit canvassing -- betray the central problem at the heart of the Democratic Party’s political culture. The party has no time or patience for the complex work needed to listen to Americans, to understand their range of views and positions, and to engage them on their deepest interests. Even worse, many in the hierarchy of the Democratic Party have contempt for ordinary Americans -- for their red faces and moderate churches and mixed, often moderate, views.

No amount of money can solve this problem. No think tank has the answers. No rising senatorial star can save the day. And no Hollywood hero can substitute for the fundamental changes the Democrats need to make to contend for the large, pivotal middle of the American electorate.

Discussions - 8 Comments

That’s so true! Why do the Dems put so much into their Hollywood heroes? It’s disturbing to think that their celebrity worship might go so far as to try to change the U.S. Consitution so that Arnold Schwarzenegger (that Clinton-like sexual predator who was in all of those horribly violent films!) can run for President!! It’s craziness! Not to mention the way they treat actor-to-politician Reagan like he’s some sort of God!

Just to relieve your concerns, Jeff, there’s no serious movement in GOP ranks to change the Constitution to let a foreign-born person hold the presidency.

Also, if you’re old enough to remember (I am), the standard leftist sneer about Reagan’s acting career was always that he was a "B-movie actor." We Republicans never particularly praised Reagan for being an actor--instead we agreed with his principles, thought he had good ideas and superior positions on issues (esp the need to defeat communism, and not just appease and accommodate it forever a la Jimmy Carter), and admired the eloquence, conviction, and (yes) thoughtfulness with which he advocated his views.

Reagan’s having been an actor was never a cause for GOP "worship," tho’ it was the occasion for leftist/Democrat sneers and snobbishness. This line of jabber was an example of "blue-state" condescension avant la lettre, and it worked about as well with voters back in the 80s as the left’s updated 21st-century version has worked for the Dems over the last 3 election cycles. Just ask Walter Mondale and John Kerry.

If you’re gonna relay tired old anti-Reagan talking points, please try to keep them straight, Jeff. Mock RR for being an actor if you like, but don’t try to pretend that this was a major plank in the Republican case for the man and his leadership.

I can’t speak for the author of the first comment, but the impression I get is that the fact is that the U.S. culture experiences celebrity worship. Which is sad, but it isn’t necessarily a republican or democratic issue. Yes, Dems had Ben Affleck and Bruce Springsteen out campaigning for Kerry, but the Republicans had Daryl Waltrip and Tobey Keith. It’s America - not right or left.

Nick,

It just so happens that I agree with you completely. It is an American phenomenon (although much of the First World also has some degree of celebrity obsessiveness as well), and it’s definitely not limited to either Democrats or Republicans.

Republicans love to point out all the liberals and liberal political endorsers and activists in Hollywood, and the arts generally, and say "See!! The Democrats are a party of elitist, millionaire limousine liberals, out of touch with Americans!" And clearly they get a lot of mileage out of this. And it may well be true that more superstars and celebrities do gravitate towards Dems (Don’t know - haven’t cared enough to compile a list or make a website about it). That said, Republicans seem more than happy to have a few famous people on their side, probably for some similarly dumb reason like that of Dems - "popular" gets mutated into "on ’the side of’ the many people who like them," which translates to votes. So, apparently, political strategists are happy to have famous people endorse political policies, causes, or candidates just as they do jeans and soda, or whatever else. I highly doubt that we’d hear many or any Republicans complain if celebrities started to lean right more than left. Any desire to distance themselves from amoral Hollywood would evaporate, and either they’d claim a victory in the ideological wars (Our ideas are better - even Bono came around!) or the culture wars (Americans won’t make someone famous who they know to be liberal). Celebrity political preferences SHOULDN’T be anything more than bar-room trivia, but they apparently matter to a lot of people, both left and right of center.

Jeff:

Among the reason’s that Hollywood (and yes, it’s overwhelmingly left-liberal) is so important to Democrats is not merely the value of celebrity endorsements (clearly in doubt given that Affleck, Springsteen, & Co. cdn’t persuade enough Americans to vote for Kerry), but also the fact that Hollywood is a huge source of funds for Democratic candidates.

Hollywood is by and large way to the left of the center of gravity in US politics, and Hollywood has lots and lots of money to donate. Put those two things together and you have one of the huge forces pulling the Dems away from the median voter and into the loser territory in which they currently find themselves mired.

It ain’t just about endorsements, my friend, it’s about the cash.

Movie "stars" and their political opinions would be much eaiser to tolerate if they had a little intellectual weight behind them.

PJC - thought the original post referenced celebrity worship not fund raising. I’m pretty sure there are plenty of organizations way right of the center of gravity in US politics that donate to the Republican party.

Steven Kelso,
I agree. I giggle everytime I think about Brittany Spears and her rationalization for supporting President Bush. :)

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