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July 26, 2004

A spectre is haunting the DNC. Michael Kinsley has the goods:
It is an odd notion that the Democratic Party is about to flicker out and, like Tinker Bell, can be saved only if all the delegates chant, “We do believe in moderation. We do. We do.” An especially irritating variant, usually from conservative commentators, holds piously that the Democratic Party must save itself because two parties are essential to democracy or because competition is good for the Republicans.

These themes have reverberated around Democratic conventions since the first post-McGovernite election year of 1976. By now the word “McGovernite,” never exactly filled with schismatic drama and romance, must be about as meaningful to the average voter as “Shachtmanite” or “Albigensian.” George McGovern, children, was a senator from South Dakota (a region of the upper west side of Manhattan in the geographical mythology of Democratic Party critics) and the Democratic presidential candidate in 1972. He was, and is, a left-liberal. The Republican offering that year was Richard Nixon (with Spiro Agnew for dessert), but it is the Democrats who have been apologizing for their choice ever since.

You would not know from the Democrats’ three decades of defensiveness about themselves and the label “liberal” that the Democratic candidate got more votes than the Republican one in each of the past three presidential elections.

Funny about that. [02:19 PM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on A spectre is haunting the DNC.:

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2004, 03:25 PM:

Yep... and how do we get our cojones back?


Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2004, 05:32 PM:

Neither of those Democrats was a liberal, either. Not as I understand the term.

It's all conservatives and neo-conservatives (so called, I suppose, because they want to innovate NEW ancient traditions, like Constitutional bans on gay marriage) as far as the eye can see.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2004, 06:55 PM:

Xopher, neither of which Democrats? McGovern? Shachtman? Innocent III?

I do suspect you're using the term "neoconservative" in an un-usefully broad way, but before getting into that argument, why don't you supply a missing antecedent or two.

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2004, 08:00 PM:

Xopher, neither of which Democrats? McGovern? Shachtman? Innocent III?

For the record, it was clear to me that Xopher's comment referred to Clinton and Gore.

(Of course, if Xopher intended to refer to Innocent III, I'm now publicly embarrassed. Oh well.)

Rob T. ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2004, 08:13 PM:

I think Xopher was referring to the two Democrats who ran for president in the last three elections (Bill Clinton and Al Gore, that is). Rather than getting stuck in the question of whether they're "really" liberals or not, I'll just note that I'm not as worried about the Democrats forgetting that their guy "got more votes than the Republican one in each of the past three presidential elections" as I am that nobody running in those elections got more than 50% of the vote. It'd be nice to see an election system in which at least half the voters + 1 agreed on who ought to have won. Maybe there ought to be runoffs or some such thing.

Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2004, 08:28 PM:

Given that, for my *entire voting life*, I've been forced to vote for a conservative politician to avoid casting a vote for an even more conservative, or even radical, politician, there's a simple reason why the Democratic Party doesn't want the word "liberal" associated with them.

They're not the liberal party.

In the US, there is no effective liberal party. This is why the Greens were able to snipe the presidency away from the Dems -- and why it will happen again.

Look at what's been done today. Margaret Cho is too "off color" to take part in DLC, I mean, DNC convention related activities. Gore and Dean have been told, quite simply, to knock off all that anti-war/anti-Bush stuff, and be good little positive people, because the party has to reach l/e/f/t/ right to reach the "moderates" in the "middle" and the "undecideds."

And this will just go on and on. The DNC will nominiate increasingly conservative politicians. The GOP will nominate radical ones. The liberals will vote conservative, because, well, "it's too important. Think of the Court/Debt/War/Health Care/lalalala."

And, you know, the DLC/DNC knows this. They know they own your vote, because you can't vote for Bush. So, they have exactly >< that much regard for your position.

TK: Simple. You tell them that this is not acceptible. That you will not vote Anybody but GOP. As long as you accept that proposition, there is no reason for the DNC to change.

Anybody but Bush means you gladly vote for Reagan.

Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2004, 08:50 PM:

Speaking from the Republican side of things, I think the turnaround in the modern conservative movement occurred when Bill Buckley refused to admit the John Birch Society to the National Review.

As long as the Democrats think "no enemies to the left", and try to excuse and justify various fringe insanities, they're not going to be taken seriously by sane people.

(One might note that Clinton didn't get 50% of the vote either -- why? because Ross Perot sniped those votes away on the other side of Bush I...)

julia ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2004, 10:22 PM:

Anybody but Bush means you gladly vote for Reagan

I wonder if people who write this are as bone unholy tired of doing it as I am of reading it?

Look, if you're determined not to vote against Bush, please, this is (until at least November) a free country. Have at it. You have every right in the world to vote for the candidate of your choice in this democracy, at least until November. Just please, come up with some new lameass rhetoric, OK?

Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2004, 10:50 PM:

As long as the Democrats think "no enemies to the left", and try to excuse and justify various fringe insanities, they're not going to be taken seriously by sane people.

Yet in this universe, Bush and Kerry are virtually neck-and-neck in every poll and projection at this point, almost as though a great many people were taking the Democrats seriously. Care to spring another National Review talking point on us? Or shall I start listing the various fringe insanities the GOP needs to apologize for cozening up to before I take them seriously again?

Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2004, 11:11 PM:

Just please, come up with some new lameass rhetoric, OK?

No. "lameass rhetoric" would have been to use Hitler.

The fact is simple. If you state, out loud, that you will vote for the Democratic Candidate, because you will not vote for Bush, there is *no reason whatsoever* for the Democratic Party to listen to you when selecting a candidate. They've already got your vote, no matter what. It is stupid of them to take your concerns into account if that might cost them a vote that hasn't already promised to vote for them.

That's what Anybody but Foo means. It means that you don't care what is chosen for you, as long as it is not Foo.

Now, iterate. What happens?

First, it was Anybody but Nixon. Then, Anybody but Reagan. Then, Anybody but Bush. Then, Anybody but Dole. Now, Anybody but Bush again.

Been there. Done that. And the Dems have ignored liberals, because, well, they were Anybody. And they still are.

You tell me that this is a bad time to make a stand against Anybody. Question: When was a good time?

And, you know, if it was before Reagan, I wonder: Where the hell were you? I couldn't vote then. I didn't have a say. If you did, well, why the hell did you take Anybody then? What was so important that you had to take Anybody, year after year, election after election?

And you want me to vote for Anybody now? How much more to the right should Anybody shift before Anybody is not, in fact, better.

Hint: Why was Nader even in play in 2000?

Hint: Why does the GOP *always* pick a fanatical social policy fight in March before an election?

Hint: Why has Democratic GOTV efforts had real problems the last three elections?

Anybody? Anybody?

And you want me to be quiet, since my "rhetoric" is "lameass." I apologize for not being a good sheep, and baaing every four years. But, to be both honest and crude, fuck Anybody.

The GOP is right in one thing. You can safely bet, over time, on the Democrats taking the "safe" road.

Final Hint: What do you call a military commander who always knows what road his enemy will take?

Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 12:31 AM:

I suppose there is always the possibility that, in the same way that the GOP enforced party discipline in 2000 about Bush being moderate and compassionate and big-tent, the DNC this year might also be going for the "say you're middle of the road enough times and folks will still think you are even when you begin to give stuff to the base" strategy.

Of course, it'll be harder for them to pull off, because the press will never let the Dems pass off any old assertion without question (however comical or blatantly untrue), the way they did for the Bush campaign. And I have no empirical evidence to back this speculation up.

But it's something to consider.

OTOH, ditching Margaret Cho was idiotic and infuriating, and won't even play well with the soccer dads because it's...flip-flopping.


I understand the anger that you're expressing. I had it too in 2000, that idea that the Dems were just taking my vote for granted and I refused to let them do that any more. Then I realized that it's awfully hard for my party to know what I want if the only way I communicate is by ignoring them pointedly once every 4 years.

So, I started to become more involved (and my sweetie *much* more involved), and for what little that's worth, at least I know that I can tell the people I meet, and talk to on the phone, and write letters to, etc. what I think and that I am voting not just with my vote but with my time, energy, talent, and money. FW(L)IW.

This is not meant to be glib or to say you aren't right that it's infuriating to watch everything skew further and further right, and to feel/be shut out of the party as money and consolidation tighten their grip on our nation's throat. With all due respect, I'm just not sure that dropping out (and thereby leaving the party to the DNC altogether) does much to change that.

Also, I myself truly feel that there is no credible left-alternative party candidate in the US this year. Nader is a grotesque right-backed parody of his former self, and I sincerely feel that the Greens need more time in the trenches building their party by winning local elections (like my City Council rep, Dean Zimmerperson) before they can or should aspire to the Presidency.

Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 12:37 AM:

Erik, you need to listen to some Fats Waller. I am serious. Like I told Patrick, it's like taking drugs, except that it works.

Also: Look, the right-wing spent years infiltrating everything from the most local level and working their way up. The left has never bothered to do that - they sit on the sidelines and gripe for four years, then they gripe some more when the nominee turns out to be someone they can't fall in love with. That's how the DLC types have managed to take and keep control of the party. It's been going on all my life. No one runs for anything, no one works for anyone local, they just wait 'til the last minute, or they back someone for the national ticket in the primaries and when that guy loses they take their ball and go home.

If we want to win, we have to want to win all year long every year, and we have to be prepared to start from the bottom. Concentrating only on presidential elections is precisely what kills the possibility of real grass-roots candidates winning national elections. It forces a top-down structure on the whole system.

And it's why Ralph Nader blew it a long time ago - not by running in 2000, but by failing to run for local office before that. He could have been in Congress any time he wanted to, but oh, no, he had to run for president.

And the kind of people who just echo his rhetoric are supporting the same mistake. Yes, the national party bites, but it bites because we've just sat back and left it in the hands of people who bite.

It should be in the hands of people who listen to Fats Waller.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 12:48 AM:

In case it's not obvious, I think Avedon Carol speaks to angels and walks with God. Also, I agree with her.

Scott M Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 01:04 AM:

I am voting Democrat this year because in most cases they at least say they hold a similar viewpoint to mine. I’m not voting the ABB ticket; I’m voting the “get someone in office that maybe we can pressure into being more liberal” ticket.

Some people here seem to be saying that the Democratic Party is too conservative. I agree with that but, I also think that it will start to shift more to the left in the future. Elections are won with money, and the Democratic candidates are getting more and more funding directly from small donors. This will, hopefully, start to make them more dependent on the average folks like me and less on big business.

As a side note: I never vote Republican anymore even if they seem to be the better candidate because they seem to use the power of a majority as a massive club. Maybe the Dems will too if they ever get total control, but they are probably too ideologically divided.

Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 02:58 AM:

Also, it's not "anybody but Bush."

It's put the bill-signing, judge-appointing fountain pen in the hands of an educated adult who understands high school science and history, and who has demonstrated some ability to reason --

taking it out of the hands of a low-IQ, ex-drunk, born-again fundamentalist, who demonstrably flunks the replicant empathy test, collaborates with criminals who steal from taxpayers, impedes scientific progress at every turn, and has a policy of sabotage directed toward all beneficial legal, political, social, economic, and scientific institutions in our society.

It's possible to bet that spurning the Democratic party this year will spur it to put up someone more like Kucinich in 2008, that we can afford to absorb four more years of Republican cruelty and political misfortune, and that the "desirable" 2008 candidate will have a decent chance of being elected.

But, to me, it's a bet that's much too expensive and risky to take. I'd rather bet, as Avedon suggests, on four years to work within the Democratic party _without_ unprecedented criminal stupidity in the White House.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 03:15 AM:

The greatest Fats Waller science fiction story that I know of is Howard Waldrop's You Could Go Home Again, in his collection Going Home Again. When I first read that story I was in a very deep funk, and it pulled me out like an airhook from a dirigible. Of course, that explains nothing, but it's a Waldrop story. Go read it.

On another note, I would like to advance the idea that Michael Kinsley missed it. From what I've seen and read about the first day of the convention, the Democratic talk about toning down the rhetoric was a smoke screen, pure and simple. Their strategy is to say they will be reasonable and moderate, and then to stand up and tell it like it is. When the predictable screams come in from the right, they can say they were being reasonable and moderate, so what's the problem, and besides it's all true. Actually, I don't care if it's really the demo's strategy, or if it just seems to be, as long as it works. Meanwhile, the idea that the Democratic Party is afraid of its liberalism or caving in to the conservatives is simply absurd. We are going to see some very careful presentation of messages, where the content is unabashedly liberal, but they will be communicated in terms that all Americans, including those who think they are conservative, can understand and relate to.

It's too bad that Margaret Cho is off the program. She's great. On the other hand, she's not exactly what we need to win. I do think that Kerry owes her one, and he should make it up by inviting her to perform at the White House in early 2005.

BSD ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 04:06 AM:

From where I'm sitting, the primary response to the DLC has been "Sit Down and Shut Up". Is Lieberman looking like a party big wheel to you, these days? Or do we have a pair of, y'know, people who it is possible to actually call liberal at the top of the ticket?

And as stated above, now is not the time to fight over internal positions. The primary was (and if you think Kerry's stance, and choice of VP, is not substantially leftward of what it would have been had there been no Dean, no Kucinich, well, you weren't listening to him speak before his handlers let Kerry be Kerry again). The congressional and local primaries of the past umpteen years were (I've volunteered on primaries in sure dem seats for this exact purpose).

Do I wish national voting were different? Sure. If my candidate is double-lined, I vote for him or her on the Working Families line, and if the post is too low that double-lining is assured, I tend to know why they're not and vote accordingly.

Kerry is exactly who I want. I'm happy with Edwards as VP. Our primary produced a stunningly left-wing ticket for our time, and frankly, I didn't like Kucinich, and don't like Nader -- they're the type of lefties that tget their lunch eaten, not the kick-'em-in-the-balls-take-their-money-and-give-it-to-someone-who-needs-it lefties, so I'm not up for putting them in the room with rabid rightwing mastiffs, anyway.

So after all that rambling, my question is this. Did those of you unwilling to vote Kerry do anything between, say, June 02 and March 03 to make some other person, or some other platform, the coming result of the DNC?

jane ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 05:48 AM:

As as former Massachusetts delegate to the '72 convention pledged to McGovern (and sitting on Father Bob Drinan's right hand) I bow down and kiss Avedon's feet.


Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 08:21 AM:

And if you were watching the speeches last night, you might have noticed that the real party leadership was up there kicking ass, saying what everyone in their right mind already knows, and talking the liberal talk - but talking it the way ordinary Americans understand "moderate" and classic American values. I wish I'd actually made little marks on my notepad every time someone mentioned healthcare, for example.

The DLC itself is looking pretty sickly these days now that Al Gore has completely jumped ship - and look at that man go! That's the guy who won the 2000 election! And a lot of people know it. In 2000 his DLC buddies were whining because his speech at the convention "veered left" but that speech gained him the lead in the polls after he'd had a 15% deficit. And after what happened during the Selection, Al went off and grew his beard for a few months and came back stripped of the remainder of that DLC "caution".

I keep getting the feeling that the rest of the DNC is starting to get the realization that the distance between "the base" and the real center is actually infinitesimal and that "playing to the base" and playing to ordinary voters is the same thing. As long as we can keep them paying attention to that fact, we have a very good chance of moving the party back on track - not merely "to the left", but back to reality.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 09:31 AM:

Erik: Then, Anybody but Dole.

When was this? In the 1996 I remember, Bill Clinton was a popular president running for reelection.

Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 09:32 AM:

BSD writes:

Do I wish national voting were different? Sure. If my candidate is double-lined, I vote for him or her on the Working Families line, and if the post is too low that double-lining is assured, I tend to know why they're not and vote accordingly.

I need some education. I didn't understand this paragraph, except that it has something to do with voting. Or, to paraphrase, "[*]."

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 10:11 AM:

I'm currently distracted by other things, but Jordin tells me that Gore gave a real stemwinder of a speech. And that somebody, details escape me because I've only had about 4 hours sleep, had veterans up on their feet cheering for Kerry. Right now my life is being eaten alive by family matters, but I've been working to try and take my country back from the jackals who are currently trying to pull it down. I'll do more after things are settled here. Apparently there are enough of us trying hard enough to start making a difference. Hey, isn't that how this democracy thing is *supposed* to work...


BSD ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 10:24 AM:

Sorry, I forgot that the World is not New York. To explain simply, any party in NY is free to put whoever they'd like on their party line on the ballot (ballot presence is by petition, a minimum number I can't remember, order based upon votes received in the last gubernatorial election). As a result, in addition to the Dems, the Reps, the Greens and Reform, we also have Independence, Independents, Right to Life, Green, Communist, etc. Until recently, the two major non-majors were the Conservative and Liberal parties, which were both forces in their own right, aligned with but not subject to the D's and R's. The Liberal party was, for much of recent history, a sham, really, and recently died of scandal. Working Families is essentially a standard "Labor" party, with much union backing, and while it is fully aware it is going to usually endorse the Democrat for a seat, they do run their own people for local posts, and they use their endorsement as a carrot to encourage good candidates that they like. It's a minor inducement, to be sure, but it carries some votes, and every one helps.

Of course, one of the other side effects of our system is Lenora Falani, but hey, it's a tradeoff I can deal with.

Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 11:31 AM:


Given the option, I vote on the Working Families line too. I was quite chuffed to see them moving up the ballot after the last election and the final death of the "Liberal Party."

And avoid any candidate listed as Right to Life like the plague.

I like NY's messy ballots. I like seeing which candidates are endorsed by which smaller parties. Sometimes it helps me make up my mind, in races where I don't know all that I want to know about a candidate (like judgeships).

I'm not ready to give up being a registered Democrat because I think it's important to vote in the primaries, but I think Working Families is an important option in the general elections.

For those interested, see:


Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 11:43 AM:

I meant Clinton and Gore (the Democrats who ran in the last three Presidential elections). Gore was more liberal than Clinton, but they both looked kinda conservative to me, pinko leftie that I am. "Conservative" is definitely preferable to "radical Right," and that is the choice we appear to have in this election. Perhaps Kerry will turn out lefter than I think; his selection of Edwards is a mildly encouraging sign.

I never considered voting for Nader, in 2000 or now. His ideas sound good, but he's simply a spoiler for the Republicans, and whether he's conscious of that fact or an unwitting dupe doesn't change the fact that voting for him is, in practical terms, roughly equivalent to not voting, which is in turn roughly equivalent to voting for whomever winds up winning. It's a "Good Men Do Nothing -- Evil Triumphs" headline.

I have to say I was pretty much an ABBA voter, but I'm becoming more enthusiastic about Kerry, the more I hear him talk. He's not just my "hamster" anymore. I recall having a similar reaction to Clinton in 1992; I wound up working a phone bank in his local office.

I wasn't trying to start a fight. Sorry. And no, banning same-sex marriage is not a new idea (I'm guessing, Patrick, that that's what you meant by mentioning Innocent III), but a Constitutional Amendment to that effect is. It's a non-starter, as they knew very well. I just hope it bites them hard, septic, and in November.

rea ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 12:36 PM:

Erik, if we appointed you dictator of the Democratic Party, and you could select its nominees and policy positions, how would you propose to win an election?

Are you under the impression that there is a vast "silent majority" of lefties out there, who don't vote now but who would turn out in droves for a real leftist candidate (even though they apparently don't turn out for Nader)?

Or do you care about winning elections? Would you rather be left than president?

In my lifetime, nobody significantly to the left of Clinton, Gore, and Kerry has come anywhere near winning a national election. If leftists want a role in governing the country, they have to form a coalition with centrists, and forming a coalition means not getting everything your way.

Look, if you want to move the country to the left, spend a couple of decades selling your ideas to the people at a grassroots level. If you succeed, you will have no trouble finding presidential candidates who can both reflect your views and win.

Stop demanding some sort of charismatic, man-on-horseback character who can change everybody's minds about left and right while simultaneously running for for presidency and winning. I doubt whether such a creature really exists, and even if there was such a candidate, your notion of leader-dominated change from the top down is not very healthy for democracy.

Meanwhile, though, if you can't see how the Clintons, Gores and Kerrys, whatever their faults, are greatly to be preferred to the nutjobs now running the country--well, you must not be paying attention.

Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 01:39 PM:

When was this? In the 1996 I remember, Bill Clinton was a popular president running for reelection.

There were plenty of liberals saying that. They realized that they had been sold a bill of goods. Clinton was not only not liberal, he was, other than the attempt at Health Care, quite conservative. Thus, the start of "They're all the same" and "Clinton was the best Republican president ever -- that's why the GOP hates him."

Another hint: Why did Clinton win? Why are the GOP so eager to get Nader on the ballots?

Are you under the impression that there is a vast "silent majority" of lefties out there, who don't vote now but who would turn out in droves for a real leftist candidate (even though they apparently don't turn out for Nader)

Funny. In the world I live in, about 5% of them did last time -- which is one of the reasons we've gone here. Well, Nader was hardly a leftist candidate, to be honest. But he was more left than the early version of Gore.

Screw hints. The reason Clinton won wasn't a move to the right. It was a combination of two, only two, and exactly two things.

1) Clinton may be the best campaigner ever. Period.

2) Ross Perot.

Here's what the rightward shift of the Democrats has given you.

1) A GOP controlled congress.

2) A hole that allowed the Green to slide in, and snipe enough votes to let the GOP finish the job by stealing Florida.

3) A GOP controlled judicary.

Your argument is winning national elections is more important. Fine. Prove that the DLC lead shift has resulted in such.

Because, you know, the "moderate" shift of the Democrats has not only left the liberals out in the cold, it has left the Democrats out in the cold.

rea ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 02:26 PM:

rea--"Are you under the impression that there is a vast 'silent majority' of lefties out there, who don't vote now but who would turn out in droves for a real leftist candidate (even though they apparently don't turn out for Nader)"

Erik--"Funny. In the world I live in, about 5% of them did last time"

Erik, you miss the point. 5% is, of course, enough to enable a 3rd party to act as a spoiler in a national election between the two major parties, if that election is close for other reasons. 5% is not enough to enable a party to win the presidency for its own candidate, or govern the country.

Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 02:59 PM:

The first way to convince the Democratic Party to listen to your opinions is to join it and vote in primaries. Who do you think "the Democratic Party" is, other than its members? (Hint: it's not the DLC.) Who do you think decides on the Democratic Party's candidates, other than its members?

I voted for Edwards in my Presidential primary, and I did that precisely because I wanted the Democratic Party to give more emphasis to what Edwards was saying. I and people like me succeeded in that.

But if you want the Democratic Party to pay even more attention to your views that it does to the views of other Democratic voters---well, there's nothing particularly secret about that, either. There isn't a zero-effort way of doing it, but you weren't asking for a zero-effort way of influencing the Democratic Party, were you?

Roughly in increasing order of effort, here are some ways of making sure that the Democratic Party will listen to your views more than if you just voted in the primaries:
- Show up at your local Democratic county committee. Get to know the people who are there working for the party between elections, talk to them about your views, and become one of them.
- Get yourself chosen as a delegate to your statewide Democratic convention.
- Become a fundraiser. I know plenty of people who have hosted house parties, and I know at least one fan who's going to the convention in Boston because of the contributions she raised for Kerry. Nothing particularly magic about what she did: she asked her friends who donated to Kerry to say that they were donating under her auspices.
- Join a group that's working to influence the direction of the party, like MoveOn. Again: go to local meetings.
- Found your own 527. We need persistent foundations and advocacy groups that last beyond the next election, and nothing is as effective at changing the direction of a party as a well organized group with a constituency inside the party. (The Sunday Times published a great article about this.)
- Run for local office.

It's true that the Democratic Party won't pay much attention to you if all you do is vote for a Democratic candidate every four years. But y'know what? The Democratic Party will pay even less attention if all you do is vote for a non-Democratic candidate every four years. Change takes more than that.

Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 04:08 PM:

I didn't miss the point, I ignored it. Your posit is that the Democrats must move to the center to win elections. So far, you've offered no proof that this is true.

I've stated that the Dem's move to the right has opened a hole on the left. You note that 5% is enough for a spoiler candidate.

On the face of it, you are agreeing with my point.

Now, once again. How does the continuing move to the right of the Democratic party help the party, when, so far, that only visible result of that move is the loss of Congress and the Presidency (by opening up a hole the Greens could, and did, exploit to shoot down Gore.)

The empirical evidence is clear -- the further the Dems move to the right, the more control the GOP gets.

Funny. I keep hearing GOP pundits saying the Democrats need to move to the right. One wonders why.

Once again. How has the Democracts generally concilatory tone and move to the right helped the Democratic Party. Never mind the liberals they're walking away from.

You offer, well, Four More Years.

The Democratic Party will pay even less attention if all you do is vote for a non-Democratic candidate every four years. Change takes more than that.

Then the Democratic party will have lost my vote, just like they've lost a number of other voters. Then, they'll start losing seats. Eventually, they will have to do one of two things.

1) Attract new voters.

2) Die.

The DNC has bet, over the last decade, that they'd gain more on the right than they've lost on the left. So far, it seems that this has resulted in, well, lost seats.

Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 06:57 PM:

>Here's what the rightward shift of the Democrats >has given you.
>1) A GOP controlled congress.

>3) A GOP controlled judicary.

Actually, what this says to me is that the whole country has shifted way to the right, to the extent that the Democrats have been dragged rightward trying to keep up enough votes to even make a showing -- there's not some silent majority of leftist votes out there just waiting for Ralph Nader to be blessed by the ghost of Lyndon Johnson.

Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 07:23 PM:

No, Tony, the whole country has not moved to the right. The public consistently polls to the left of both parties on the issues.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 08:06 PM:

I don't hear rea saying we have to move to the center. She said we need to form a coalition with the center. One would hope that would involve both parties moving a little.


Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 08:09 PM:

Oh, and as for me. I've donated money to the Democratic party, to a number of candidates who support my views, published a modest blog, and helped in a voter registration drive. I plan to do more after the insanity currently eating my life is over. How about you?


BSD ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 10:31 PM:

I have four words:

Holy shit. Obama.

Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2004, 11:07 PM:

Yep. I imagine I'll be voting for him for President some day. (But no sooner than '12, I hope.)

(But how do you get four words out of Holy shit. Obama?

Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 07:06 AM:

Avedon wrote "The public consistently polls to the left of both parties on the issues."

But does that reflect the people who turn out to vote, and the way that they vote?

We have a problem in Australia with young people not registering (which is legally compulsory) to vote when they turn 18. Partly a cynical thing about "why bother to vote when all you'll get is a politician".
Is this not what tends to happen to many moderates, especially those on the 'left' when the 'right' is in power & the 'left' party is attempting to woo 'right-leaning' voters away from them? Especially with non-compulsory voting.

We also get people who, when polled on certain issues like, healthcare or education or the environment, agree more with the policies of Labor (or other 'left' parties) but actually vote for the conservative &/or 'right' party because of other things like the fear of insecurity whipped up by the 'right' (despite it usually being their policies that create the insecure conditions), or which appeal to conservative social values (such as the 'family values', so approved of by A Certain German Party, which disapproved highly of sex & drugs & jazz (equivalent of rock'n'roll/heavy metal/rap))

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 01:02 PM:

Xopher, I mentioned Innocent III because he was the Pope who waged war on the Albigensians. I mean, obviously.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 01:57 PM:

[forehead smack]

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2004, 02:02 PM:

Regarding New York State's "Working Families Party," here's a useful article (warning: PDF) about its success at getting our state minimum wage raised. Via this post by the always-worthwhile Nathan Newman. We generally vote the WFP line ourselves. And yes, the whole WFP strategy is based on New York State's unique ballot laws.

(If you don't read Nathan Newman regularly, you're missing some of the most pragmatic, sensible discussions of real-life politics in the blogosphere--all from a very left-labor perspective, and yet completely lacking the unworldliness of many so-called "progressives". For what it's worth, Newman, like the flamboyantly left-wing Al Giordano, was a Kerry supporter long before being a Kerry supporter was cool...)

Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2004, 12:14 PM:


Alas, Gov. Pataki vetoed the minimum wage bill, just yesterday. Not sure what the legislature will do next; they have their heads up their collective asses in so many ways . . . .

I'm feeling grouchy about the state budget, as usual. The legislature wants to delay today's deadline on school funding, which has me frothing at the mouth.

Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2004, 05:37 PM:

Xopher, you obviously need the Innocent III action figure.

"Filii Hobenstaufenin, osculamini asinum meum."

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2004, 03:42 PM:

Naw, Tim, I already have a pincushion. Oh, wait, you didn't mean the J2P2 one...

Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 07:06 PM:

To some extent, I would expect the two parties to become alike because they are trying to win the same votes. Sort of a competition-in-an-efficient-market principle. So why is the Democrats the only one that's becoming alike?

Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 07:16 AM:

Erik Nelson - Why do you think W. felt the need to put the term "compassionate" with "conservative?"