Monday, February 27, 2006

Why We'll Do Better In Elections Without the Vichys

With the discussion about Chuck Pennacchio heating up, it seems like a good time to resurrect an earlier post that refutes the DLC/Casey/Rendell/Clinton argument that running to the center wins elections:

ORIGINALLY POSTED: Saturday, February 04, 2006

Stumbled across an interesting site: Sam Smith's History's Hints for Democrats. I don't know the author, but he seems spot-on here. The whole page is worth reading, but here's the kernel:

"[C]hecking the last 60 years you find something that directly contradicts the popular assumption that Democrats do best when acting like low-carb Republicans. For example, party margins in the House increased under classic Democrats Truman, Kennedy, and LBJ. Even when the party was out of the White House during the Eisenhower years the Democrats did well in Congress.

Then began a descent into confused messages combined with a rightward drift. By the time Clinton came along, the Vichy Democrats were strongly in control. Clinton won - largely because Perot was in the race - but was of little or no help getting Democrats into Congress - up two in the Senate, down 18 in the House. Clinton was the first incoming Democrat in 60 years not to have any coattails. Worst, during the Clinton administration, elected Democrats at every level did worse than under any incumbent since Grover Cleveland.

In short, despite the propaganda to the contrary loyally dispensed by a gullible media, the politics of the Democratic Leadership Council, the Third Wave, and the Clintons has been a bust.

Meanwhile, the two essential qualities of successful Democratic campaigns - a populist platform aimed at doing the mostest for the mostest while helping the weakest become part of the mostest - combined with a fervent vision of a future worth fighting for - simply disappeared. ***

In short, history joins common sense in arguing that if the Democratic Party were to return to a broad based politics based on the improvement of the economic, educational, and social conditions of average Americans it might once again become the dominant force in this country. Certainly, following the alternative urged by the Vichy Democrats has been a disaster."

A lot of trolls here have commented, sneeringly, that the Democratic Party will continue to lose elections as long as they hew to the left. Setting aside the ever-interesting question of whether we actually lost the last two elections, history does tell us that the Democratic Party -- and the country as a whole -- does better when it adheres to more liberal ideals.

It's possible that we'll lose even 2 or 3 seats in the Senate, and more in the House, if we aggressively go after Vichy incumbents. Maybe a Vichy in the hand is worth two true Democrats in the bush. I'm convinced, however, that any losses we take getting rid of the bad apples will be more than offset by gains as we recover the voters' trust in a Democratic Party that assertively and confidently promotes an alternative to politics as usual.

1 comment:

Linda said...

I agree. I continue to be confounded by the DLC's strategy to give voters republican Democrats in order to win elections. Doesn't seem to have been too successful so far.
As I've written to Howard Dean: what good does it do to win a swing voter over if you lose me (I'm now technically a "Green")?
I refuse to give the DNC a dime until it can give me a candidate worth voting for.