Democrats Do Not Need to Become More "Moderate" to Win in 2010 - Four Rules for Victory in November
[T]he Democratic agenda needs to become more "moderate" or "centrist" and that this would somehow be more attractive to Independent voters.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
"Moderating" our goals is not a recipe for victory. It is a recipe for failure. Last fall, voters overwhelming voted for change, and they knew then -- and still know now -- the kind of change they wanted.
They wanted to end the stranglehold of the private insurance companies that continues to put every American a single illness -- or one layoff -- away from financial catastrophe. They want to take bold, clear action to assure that America is in the forefront of creating the clean energy jobs of the future -- and leave a thriving healthy planet to our children. They wanted to fundamentally change the bull-in-the-china shop foreign policy of the Bush years and re-establish American leadership in the world. Most importantly, they rejected the failed economic policies that allowed the recklessness of huge Wall Street banks to plunge the economy into free fall -- and cost millions their livelihoods. They desperately want leadership that will lay the foundation for long term, bottom-up, widely shared prosperity.
In other words they wanted... and still want... fundamental change.
The author then outlines four steps Democrats need to take to make victory possible:
1). Democrats need to demonstrate to the voters that we are fighting tooth and nail for the goals they support
2). Democrats need to deliver.
3). Not only do we need to forcefully rein in the power of Wall Street and the Big Banks -- we need to frame the political dialogue in decidedly populist terms.
4). We must continue to forcefully and proudly stand up for progressive values.
I think the author is spot-on correct in his advice to the Democratic Party on what they need to do to be victorious in the upcoming elections and how watering down a populist and progressive approach in favor of appearing more "moderate" and "centrist" is a recipe for disaster. But I just can't get fired up about this article although I basically agree with much of what the author had to say.
(1) Appearing to be progressive and populist and sounding like one on the campaign trail is very different from actually being progressive and populist once you are in office and in a position to influence the creation of and vote for legislation. Much of the national Democratic Party is heavily influenced and beholden to corporate and Wall Street interests. Progressives like Dennis Kucinich play at best a marginal role in national Democratic politics. I don't see any of that changing anytime soon with the election of more Democrats into office in 2010.
(2) Democrats had a historic opportunity -- by being the majority in Congress and holding the Executive branch -- to make fundamental changes that would rein in the power of Wall Street, deliver real and comprehensive healthcare reform, draw down the costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and make fundamental changes in the way the US conducts foreign policy, etc. Today we are still on the same boat as when we started in regards to the issues above. When push comes to shove the Democrats have shown themselves to be unwilling, uninterested, or unable to deliver actual, fundamental change or to represent a progressive and populist perspective. Why should electing more Democrats into office change that?
(3) People will say if you don't support the Democrats despite the misgivings above this creates an opportunity for the Republican Party to take back power. I say I am tired of being politically held hostage by the Democratic Party. They rely on my and the vote of Progressives to win elections but don't deliver on any of the issues I care about once in power. That's no reason for someone to vote and retain their loyalty. That's just politically blackmailing progressive and independent voters.
I applaud the author for his ideas. As an independent I see myself supporting Democrats in elections if they run campaigns and govern the way the author is describing. But I just don't see the Democratic Party taking on any of his sensible advice except on the symbolic level to use in speeches and in campaign advertising. Beyond the rhetorical level I don't see the national Democratic party willingly representing a more progressive and populist direction.
Which begs the question -- if you care about progressive values and see issues from a populist perspective, what do you do politically? Where do you turn to if neither major party is interested in representing your interests?