Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

More on Howard Dean

Andrew Busch reflects on what the Howard Dean era as DNC chair may mean for the Democrats. Thoughtful essay, and note this:

This point is part of a broader illustration: what Dean’s ascent (or re-ascent) says about the current status of the Democratic Party. While some individual Democrats have taken the hints offered by the 2004 (and 2002) election, the party as a whole has either not come to grips with its recent defeats or has chosen to interpret those defeats as the result of insufficiently clear liberalism. The replacement of Clintonites like McAuliffe with Dean, following the 2002 replacement of Richard Gephardt with Nancy Pelosi, would signal that Democrats as a group have made a conscious decision to shift back hard in the direction of McGovernism. One might even declare the era of Clintonism within the Democratic Party to be over or at least suspended until further notice. Dean’s rise—whether he ultimately wins the DNC vote or not—may also be evidence of the depletion of talent on the Democratic side.

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The Democratic Party has been hemorrhaging moderates and conservatives for decades now, at least since about 1968.

I think that what we’re seeing these days is that it’s all finally reaching a tipping point: the pulling left of presidential contenders, the decision to nominate a do-nothing Northeastern liberal senator for the top spot in ’04, the extremist leaders and spokesmen (Kennedy, Pelosi, Dean, Daily Kos), the dawning realization by long-uneasy but vital constituencies (e.g., black Christians) that the Democratic Party is a losing operation and is taking them somewhere they don’t want to go, to boot.

Dean’s ascent just puts the cherry on top of this sorry sundae. The moderates can’t correct the party back to the center because there just aren’t enough moderates in the Dem ranks anymore. Too many of them (or their kids) have become Republicans or swing voters now.

Democrats who can see this, Democrats with a purchase on reality like our young friend Matt Mingus, are like a man on a cliff helplessly watching a speeding train below about to derail itself in a washout that he can see but the driver can’t.

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