Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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"Undemocratic" NY Democrats and Harold Ford

Harold Ford is not happy with the way that the Democrats in New York have conducted themselves.  He is deeply dissatisfied with the direction the party seems to be headed and he believes that the attitude promoted by leading NY Democrats--i.e., one that would exclude the likes of him--is the attitude responsible for the apparent (and coming) misfortunes of the larger, national Democrat agenda.  He is on to something.  His argument boils down, in a way, to an argument against Democrat arrogance . . . and, ironically, Ford correctly identifies this attitude among "Democrats"  as something that is profoundly undemocratic.  Ford appears to harbor a special ire for Democrats who have gone around the bend ideologically; placing a left-of-center ideology ahead of local interests. 

But you would be misreading Ford if you think that he is arguing for a more moderate Democrat Party in New York out of principle or because the leftism itself is somehow offensive or contrary to his view of American purposes--after all, his objection to the healthcare legislation seems to have at least as much to do with proposed exclusions for abortion funding as it does with the increased taxes it would require to keep it funded.  No, he is offended by the leftward tilt of Democrats only because it does not, to his mind, appear to square with the interests or desires of his would-be constituents . . . would-be, that is, if he had finally decided to challenge Kirsten Gillibrand's nomination for the NY Senate seat to which she was appointed after it was vacated by Hillary Clinton.  But Ford has decided against such a move--noting, in more than one venue, that Democrats are "scared" about November.  He claims that he does not want to do anything that would damage Democrat chances in the fall and thereby contribute to Republican gains . . . but his lukewarm (if it even rises to that temperature!) support for Gillibrand ought to suggest to anyone with a pulse that Ford's concerns in this instance mirror the general tendency of his deeper political concerns.  That is to say, they're more local . . . a LOT more local. 

I've also got a feeling that a return to "all politics as local" (in the sense that Ford here understands "local") may contribute to even more Democrats deciding to sit this round out. 
Categories > Elections

Discussions - 5 Comments

See The Sage of Mt. Airy for another take on this:

If ANY Democrat thinks and acts more locally than nationally, I'll take it. The best case is that it signals a move away from the headlong pursuit of the always illusive goal of equality. At worst, it means his nostrums will do most of their damage in his own back yard and not in mine.

BTW, thanks for the plug Ken!

I agree with the Sage as far as that goes, and I absolutely agree that Ford is a fellow to watch. But the more substantive problem with Ford's definition of "local" is that it is VERY local--as in HIS OWN interest. In this, he reminds me of another southern politician (and one who did very well for himself--so well, in fact, that he was able to propel his wife into the seat Ford hoped to occupy). That politician appeared to be reasonable too--at least until it was no longer so obviously in his interest to refrain from appearing as a Liberal. Of course, his loyalty to that "local" interest remained with him to the end and gave him a certain kind of flexibility . . . but it also served him ill when his baser instincts could not be subdued by his higher ambition. Is it always thus with such politicians? Perhaps not always in exactly the same way or always out of exactly the same sort of weakness . . . but I'd suggest that some manifestation of the problem involved with self-serving politicians is also something to watch for in Ford. Or, perhaps, this angry letter is already an indication of his own particular kind of weakness . . .

I take your point. I would only add that I think it's impossible to underestimate the self-serving dimensions of ANY politician. And Ford is most definitely a politician. But I've paid attention to him for 12-13 years now and he strikes me as pretty self-disciplined, however self-serving he may also be. That other southern politician only appeared to be reasonable because he was transparantly motivated chiefly by other things. He exercised absolutely no self-discipline, but for reasons that still baffle me, he was given a pass for it. Anyway, nice piece. I'll be sure to keep my eyes wide open.
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