July 26, 2004
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.Funny about that. [02:19 PM]
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.