Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Gov. Tim Kaine--Sane Democrat?

Virginia Governor, Tim Kaine has an interesting article at Real Clear Politics discussing how he was able to win the Governor’s race in a red state. He argues that his win has something to teach the larger Democratic party. But as you read this ask yourself whether the lesson can be applied on a larger spectrum. Kaine backed away from his liberalism and appealed to conservative ideas in so doing. For example, he denied that his personal opposition to the death penalty would keep him from enforcing it because ". . . I took the oath of office as seriously as my wedding vows." He also got to mention his religious faith and Catholic ties in the process. He talked about tax-relief for homeowners, improving roads for suburban commuters, and increasing Pre-K programs--especially appealing to the demographic of married women. Clever. It worked for him in the way "fake Republicanism" almost did for Hackett in Ohio.

But I think the days of this kind of strategy working on the national scene are over for two reasons. First, the Dems aren’t going to be able to nominate someone like this given their radicalized base. Second, I think when it comes to the larger issues in a national debate (not roads and pre-K programs!) voters won’t fall for fake Republicanism. There’s so little in it for us when we support their national programs. We don’t even get the satisfaction of seeing the programs work! We see the Dems coming with their wish-list and we hide our wallets. And as for Kaine’s most effective hammer, tax-relief, does anyone see a Democrat of national standing making that case in 2008? As Bush might say, "Bring it on!"

Discussions - 7 Comments

The presumption is that if one is a Democrat, there is pathology somewhere, whether or not it has yet divulged itself.

So I wouldn’t be in any hurry to risk credibility by being quick off the mark, and suggesting that you have actually found a "sane" Democrat.

Those that were sane, have long ago followed the trajectory of the neo-Conservative, and ended up in the folds of the GOP. Or, like Zell Miller, remained just because they’re stubborn, and too old to ponder new ways, new associations.

Hence the question mark. Kaine is a lib--that’s certain. But he’s of a mold that seems to be growing mold--the liberal who is a pragmatist in order to win elections. My point is that I think that will prove a very limited strategy in future elections and then, only in local or statewide elections.

Julie I assume you are looking at recent past behaviour of D candidates in National races to predict the future. Look no further than Al Gore who clearly move far left when it came time to accept the Dem mantle and run. His newly adopted positions would never have made him a multiple term senator from Tennessee. In fact it can be reaosnalby argued that they cost him the election since even his home state found him unplatable. Even the guy picked to balance the ticket, Lieberman went pretty far left in the race. He has since come back to more moderate positions.

Could a Joe L clone get the D nomination in the current environment. Over Kos’ dead body.

And are they really pragmatic or is it more that

What also must be noted is the terrible campaign run by the Republicans (that’s two in a row now).

To finish the thought:

...they try to not tell the voters what they really beleive, knowing it will not be popular with 51% ( or more).

Let’s see how Kaine actually governs.
As the old saying goes, "watch their hands."

I only wish some folks would’ve watched Bob Taft’s hands a lot more closely.

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