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Thursday, July 13, 2006


Idealists wanted apply here

I think that the Delawarewatch interview with Michael Berg is compelling reading. My comments there were a kind of begining of a thought which I'll try to work through here.


DG: Some people believe that voting for a Green Party candidate is a wasted vote. If anything, it only ensures that a more undesirable candidate wins the race.

Some people believe that because they have seen it played out. Some people find it easier to believe thier own eyes than in Green Party wishful thinking.

But you know what the bigger point is...what a waste. Mr. Berg and Dana could have a real impact on the Democratic party if they ever decided to work for peace in social justice in more practical ways.

The Democrats are not the party they should be with the Garretts and Bergs of the world on on the sidelines. We are not the party we should be becuase we need our idealists. The Republicans have thier idealists, but their distopian ideals are as selfish, pessimistic and dark as Dana's and Mr. Berg's ideals are selfless, optimistic and bright.

I don't know how we win back the Berg's and the Garrett's of the world. Trying to build a case does not seem to work and pissy haraguing REALLY does not seem to work. (Go figure!) Maybe I'm not the right guy to try to win back anyone to the Democratic party, but somebody better get working on it. The distopian idealists on the other side are in the driver's seat and don't show any signs of slowing down.

I like how you've framed this question Jason.

I'm not sure if the foregoing ramble is completely on point. But maybe it's instructive to look at why, as you put it, folks with somewhat extreme conservative views are in the driver's seat.

Broad brush strokes here, but look at two historical factors. One is the well funded, well organized network of media and think tanks developed by conservatives in the past few decades. These efforts were launched and nurtured by conservatives whose ideological (and to me mostly disagreeable) viewpoints were hardened by decades of frustration.

The other big factor is liberalism itself, the cause of the above cited frustration. When liberals were more in the driver's seat the more extreme (utopian) liberal ideals had some pretty unhealthy effects. E.g,

- the boundless liberal confidence in the ability of government to engineer positive social outcomes lead to failure as often as success and to a bloated unnaccountable federal beauracracy.
- The bedrock liberal belief that human behavior is determined by external social forces lead to a worship of victimhood and a culture of entitlement and irreponsibility.

Maybe the democratic party needs it's idealists, but I think we've already paid heavily for the ideological war between 'utopians' and 'dystopians' It seems to me that both parties need some strong voices who are willing to distance themselves from their parties' extreme wings. I'm not saying they should to this out of political expediency (it is NOT always expedient). I believe that from the standpoint of maintaining a reasonably prosperous, reasonably just society the exreme views just don't work.
Great comments. I'd quibble about the bedrock liberal beilief and votimhood, but your larger point has merit.

As I thought about this issue last night I wondered if my desire to bring the liberal extremists back to the Democratic party wasn't somewhat utilitarian.

I other words, the party needs them as a a kind of ideological anchor - and if so, no wonder thay don't want any part of it. Who want's to be cast in that role.
I don't have a dog in this fight but IMNHO, third parties have a much greater chance at the local level than they do at the national level. You are more likely to elect a green mayor or even governor than you are US Senator. A third party candidate for President is a pipe dream.
Jason, Is it better to vote for a crooked, conservative Democrat than a honest, progressive Republican?
is it better to live under a bridge or in a cave, troll?
"I other words, the party needs them as a a kind of ideological anchor"

"Anchor" is a good metaphor.

I guess I wanted to make a couple of points and I'm not sure I pulled it off. First, the political zietgiest has shifted pretty far to the right (a fitful shift over 25 years or so), making at least some truly liberal views a short term political liability for a party that's concerned with regaining power.

In fact some of my prior comments seem pretty irrelavent from the purely political side. Most national dems do not recently pander much to liberal constituencies. Unfortunately, a case could be made that they have spent lots of energy in recent years pandering to the conservative wing of the republican party (give me a better definition of fecklessness).

But another angle is that the truly successful democrats (not just politically successful, but successful in terms of the legacy of their statecraft), tend to keep the more ideological liberal wing of the party at arm's length. E.g.

-Truman proved himself to be a staunch cold warrior although at the time extablishment liberals were still tending to overlook the dreadful realities of Stalinist Russia.

-JFK was also a fierce cold warrior. And he lowered taxes and proved himself, in many ways, a social moderate.

-Clinton held the line on spending and enacted welfare reform, much to the outrage of many liberals. He also tried to take a middle way on health care (not successful on that one - but not a bad try).
he truly successful democrats...tend to keep the more ideological liberal wing of the party at arm's length

Which arguably gave rise to Nader's run in 2000.
he truly successful democrats...tend to keep the more ideological liberal wing of the party at arm's length

Which arguably gave rise to Nader's run in 2000.

Nader's been out there for a long time.

Clinton's inability to keep his thing in his pants and Gore's incredible ineffectiveness as a candidate combined with complacency of the national media (it's willingness to let the conservative media tell all the stories), combined to make Gore vulnerable to Nader.
I'm impressed with your site, very nice graphics!
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