Here’s the issue of Blueprint magazine, to which the article refers. There are at least four articles worth a closer look (perhaps this afternoon).
Update: Ive had a chance to read over and chew on a few of the articles. This one is a revised version of this piece, which I discussed here. There are a few differences between the two; the newer one contains a positive reference to Hillary Rodham Clinton and deletes a negative reference to the ACLU. While theres a lot of discussion in both of the use of the "bully pulpit" to indicate symbolic support for embattled parents, theres no discussion of the role of real pulpits in addressing the cultural anxieties of parents. And I still wonder if the corporations that the "progressive cultural populists" would have us bash dont include substantial numbers of Democratic donors who wouldnt be particularly happy with this agenda.
As Democrats analyze their recent losses in presidential elections and plan the partys future, they should focus on one word: order.
Americans long for it -- social order, law and order, world order. But ever since the chaos of the 1960s, voters have felt one aspect of order or another slipping away. And, fairly or not, Americans have perceived a Democratic tolerance for disorder and a Republican commitment to restoring order. That has been the subtext of every presidential election since 1968, although it has usually been called by other names -- like abortion, gay rights, flag burning, or "values." It explains why, in most national contests, Republicans have won.
But, like the previous article, the emphasis is heavily on the "symbolic," as opposed to the substantive. Order is an issue to raise, a concern to which to appeal, not a real thing out there about which we should be worried. So words are sufficient to address it. Democrats have to find a way of talking about order. If President Bush can "exploit" the issue, well, so can Democrats. It seems to me that until the Democrats recognize that there are real concerns here, communicate that recognition, and (above all) act on it, sensible voters will recognize lip service when they see it.
Not surprisingly, the most sensible
article was written by Bill Galston, who urges his Democratic brethren to abstain from judicial legislation.
The judiciary is supposed to be a check on the legislature, not an alternative source of legislation. In recent decades, however, Democrats have failed to preserve this distinction carefully enough, and theyve paid for their carelessness. We should not assume that because the people reject Republican attacks on an independent judiciary, they support Democrats understanding of the judiciarys role in our republic. The politically resonant attack on Democrats as elitists reflects, in part, an unwise reliance on the courts to do what Democrats could not accomplish -- not readily, perhaps not at all -- through the legislative branch.
This is good stuff, worth reading in full, especially for his attempts to continue to defend by exception Brown v. Board and for the following piece of advice, which his readers are highly unlikely to follow:
[W]e should refrain from imposing litmus tests on judicial appointments. The fact that a nominee may have worked against environmental regulations or voiced objections to New Deal-era jurisprudence is not by itself disqualifying. Nor are doubts about the wisdom or constitutional basis of Roe v. Wade.
Galston is one of the best expositors and apologists for the moderate Democratic position Ive seen, heard, or read, as Ive noted
before, but I remain unconvinced that he can persuade his fellow Democrats.