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Should Democrats Run Left or Right ??

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welshTerrier2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 10:38 PM
Original message
Should Democrats Run Left or Right ??
For decades now, and certainly right here on DU, democrats have argued about the great divide in the party between the centrists and the progressive left ... the "conventional wisdom" for some time now has been to "run towards the center" ... the argument goes that, while the party should not take the left for granted, running towards the center broadens the base and steals votes from the republicans ... the hope is that the left will still support the democratic nominee ...

This strategy presents democrats with some very real problems ... first among them, is that they must almost disguise themselves, at least partially, as republicans in order to win ... heightened voter awareness of key issues during election seasons is often squandered ... the democratic message is rendered silent for the sake of victory ... and so, it becomes difficult to sway the electorate to our real goals and ideas ... and second, over a longer period of time, a frustrated left will clearly demand more power whether from within or outside the party ...

It seems to me that in a normal election year, without the presence of evil that bush embodies, democrats are driving the left out of the party ... Greens and others on the left not only don't perceive they have a voice, but also see the party entrenched in a political strategy that sees its best opportunities in the center ... it sends a very clear message to the left: we really can't afford to listen to you even if you make your case. if we did, we would lose ...

Most of what has passed for political discourse on DU has boiled down to little more than a focus on this year's (and 2000's) win / lose ... for example, "NadIr's a jerk", "a vote for NadIr is a vote for bush" and so on ... but a real problem exists over this issue for the party ... and all the name calling in the world doesn't change that ...

We have got to find a way to heal the wounds ... and i'm not talking about Ralph Nader ... i'm talking about finding a process for real dialog between the left, the right and the party elites ... whether we win or lose this year, it is, and has always been true, that a house divided against itself cannot stand ... unity is our only path to power and unity can only be achieved by giving a voice to all ... a bird that does not fully utilize both its wings cannot fly ...

take a read on this article that makes a pretty good case for the idea that democrats failed in many elections because they ran towards the center ...

source: http://www.commondreams.org/cgi-bin/print.cgi?file=/vie...

Title: When Democrats Lean Right, They Lose: A History Lesson


<snip>

Ever since the demise of the once-progressive Johnson administration in 1968, when a lawless war on Vietnam destroyed the hopeful war on poverty, centrist Democrats have blamed the misfortunes of the Democratic Party in national politics on excessive liberalism, on progressive politics that appear too radical for the general population. Centrists claim that only by moving the Party to the right, even to the point of co-opting nationalism and military postures of the Republicans, can Democrats regain the White House.

The centrist theory, so often repeated in media commentary, contradicts the historical record -- not only the record of three successive defeats in presidential elections from 1980 to 1988, when the party shifted to the right -- but the overall record of Democratic presidents from Roosevelt to Carter. Since 1932 Democratic presidential candidates have achieved five landslide victories, and all five landslides were created through progressive campaigns that identified the Democratic Party with movements for social reform. The four campaigns of Franklin Roosevelt and the landslide victory of Lyndon Johnson in 1964 were grand coalition campaigns. These great crusades did not dwell on the white middle-class. Nor did they fawn over lost Democrats. Instead they reached beyond the party establishment to the unemployed, to the poor, to the new, rising electorate of the times.

With only one telling exception, no Cold War Democratic candidate ever won a decisive majority of the popular vote. Truman got 49.5 percent in 1948; Kennedy got 49.9 percent in the squeaker of 1960. Carter got a bare majority over Ford in 1976, a result of public hostility over Watergate. The one candidate who did sweep the country was Lyndon Johnson, and he made support for civil rights central to his crusade for the Great Society. The great Democratic victories (Roosevelt and Johnson) were all progressive, highly ideological crusades against poverty and injustice.

History does not vindicate the viewpoint of the right-wing Democrats. The centrist theory is wrong, not only in terms of electoral results; it is also wrong in terms of those huge fiascos that brought down three Democratic presidents -- Truman, Johnson, and Carter. While fidelity of FDR to progressive causes kept him in the White House for four terms in a row, no Cold War Democratic president kept the White House beyond a single elected term. The policies and mistakes of Democrats in office set the conditions for subsequent elections. What did the presidents of one elected term -- Truman, Johnson, Carter -- do wrong in office? The answer to that question tends to discredit the centrist position. Every one-term Democratic president made right-wing errors that precipitated his own downfall and betrayed the liberal mandate that held the Democratic Party together. The fall of Truman in 1952, the humiliation of Lyndon Johnson in 1968, the defeat of Carter in 1980 -- great Democratic traumas -- were all direct results of right wing follies in office.

<snip>

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GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 10:39 PM
Response to Original message
1. I vote Left.
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CaTeacher Donating Member (983 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 10:42 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. to the left. This election is going to be about
motivating the base, having them turn out and vote. Not about wooing swing voters from the middle.

Bush is doing a very good job of rallying his base. We need to do the same!
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Debs Donating Member (723 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 10:49 PM
Response to Original message
3. I vote left
I am one of those voters that doesnt think the Democratic party is listening to people like me. That they think I have no where to go since I would put one of my eyes out with a red hot poker before voting for a neandrathal like Bush ( appologies to neandrathals even though they are extinct) I think if people want to vote for republicans they will vote for republicans not republicans right. I also think we arent as bad as those guys isnt a compelling message. The democratic party needs to remember and remind people exactly what they want the country to be, we have the better arguements we should not be afraid to make them. Compassion, co-operation with the rest of the world, and that we are all in this together so we should care if the man down the street has enough to eat is a message that resonates. We cant keep running from the apochraphal stories about wealthy welfare queens and Mad regulators. If they say too much regulation we say Enron, Worldcom, Adelphia, Savings and loan. If they say lazy we say we all know the guy that lives under the bridge aer we going to help him or not until we begin doing that I cannot get overly excited about Dem candidates
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welshTerrier2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 10:55 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. welcome to DU, Debs ...
the essential message that I believe democrats should be able to convey but have not done a particularly good job in conveying is that virtually all government policy caters to the wealthiest corporate shareholders at the expense of all of us ... not just the poorest among us ...

perhaps the democrats lost many of the "Reagan democrats" when their focus seemed to be, at least to some, more on the poor than on the poor AND the middle class ... joe six pack should always be a proud democrat ...
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Union Thug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 10:56 PM
Response to Original message
5. LEFT!
FDR liberalism, strong unionism, national health care, universal access to higher education and vocational training! These should be our initiatives!
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welshTerrier2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-20-04 06:21 PM
Response to Original message
6. conventional wisdom
the common dreams article makes a pretty good case for ignoring the conventional wisdom ...

kick ...
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sangh0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-20-04 06:25 PM
Response to Original message
7. Stupid article, endlessly repeated by those who know no better
Clinton was a moderate who won, TWICE

Mondale and Dukakis were liberals who LOST

And Carter did not lose because he was too close to the Shah. That's just dumb, but at least the author was smart enough to not provide any factual support for that ridiculous claim
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