More Self-Hating Democrats
by Chris Bowers, Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 05:47:51 AM EST
The second thing that Democrats have to do better on is not attacking the `religious right,'" he said. "I think that has been a standard bogeyman that Democrats have often used in campaigns, including campaigns in Virginia. If somebody advances an idea or position that's wrong, then attack them for having a bad idea. But they are not wrong because they are religious.
"When Democrats kind of cavalierly attack the religious right or go after Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell, our candidates have sent the signal to a lot of religious people, `Well, I guess they are not interested in me.' And I think this includes a lot of people who would fit very naturally within the Democratic Party."This is, um, not exactly what Democrats need in the only southern state that is moving in our direction. How can we hope to build the party in Virginia, and make it a true swing state, when our new standard bearer in that state happily spouts off some of the worst Republican Noise Machine lies about Democrats? Further, he said these things in an interview with the American Prospect for crying out loud, not exactly hostile territory for Democrats.
Paul Waldman responds to Kaine thusly:Pardon me, but what the fuck are you talking about? John Kerry went windsurfing once during the campaign, and was dumb enough to let news photographers tag along. But he never talked about windsurfing. Few people have been more critical of Kerry's campaign than I have, but that's just about the most idiotic thing I've ever heard.(...)
Show me a single time when someone said, "Jerry Falwell is wrong because he's religious." Jerry Falwell is wrong because he's radical theocrat who has contempt for American values. Democrats shouldn't criticize Falwell - the guy who said God brought September 11 down to punish America for tolerating gays? They shouldn't criticize Pat Robertson - a con man who has made hundreds of millions of dollars stealing from little old ladies, and who writes books full of anti-semitic conspiracy theories? You bet your ass Democrats should criticize them, and they should force Republicans to say whether they embrace the religious values of most Americans, or of radicals like Falwell and Robertson.This is another in a long line of Democrats who criticize their own party by using Republican lies. This may furtehr their own ambitions by increasing their appeal to... well, I'm not really sure to whom they expect this will increase their appeal. However, no matter what votes they are trying to court, they do so at the expense of other Democrats in their party, both statewide and nationally. In the end, that means it will hurt them too.
Anyway, Tim Kaine for Governor.
Update: I took out the invectives, but I also want to make it clear that I will not spare Democrats who use Republican lies to talk about other Democrats. I mean, WTF is that windsurfing line about? Not only is it a Republican talking point about both Kerry and Democrats in general, but it is also a lie. He has no business talking about Democrats in that fashion, and he deserves to be called out for it. I should not have used invective against him, but he should be ashamed of what he said and the rank and file need to be the people who do the shaming.
This sort of crap happens all the time. As David Sirota writes,:Make no mistake about it - the Democratic Party is still the major party in American politics that best represents the interests of America's working class, and the Republicans are the real threat to average Americans' economic interests. The Democrats have some of the most tenacious and honest fighters for progressive causes that we could ever ask for - that's why I am proud to have worked for Democrats, and worked on Democratic campaigns. But the Post shows how a small faction, when left unpressured, can do serious damage to the progressive cause, America's middle-class, and the Democratic Party itself, providing the crucial support that's needed for the Republicans to pass their hard-right agenda.
That's why it is so important for progressives to not only go after the GOP when they ignore average Americans, but also hold those who undercut the Democratic Party accountable. Doing that is GOOD for the party, and the progressive cause in general. Because when these wavering lawmakers are held accountable, we can hope for a day that they don't undercut the party, the party starts winning these battles, and the progressive cause is advanced.No Democratic cause is advanced if Democrats use Republican lies to talk about other Democrats, and we need to help put an end to it. The only cause that has even a slight chance of advancing is the electoral cause of the Democrat doing the lying. Even then, probably not.
Update 2: This comment from Steve M just about sums up this whole debacle for me:I think there is a middle ground between the two sides of this debate. I don't think it is necessary for Tim Kaine to plant a kiss on John Kerry's cheek to demonstrate his bona fides as a candidate; nor do I think it is necessary for him to burn Kerry in effigy to have any chance of winning in Virginia. I simply think it's possible for him to distance himself from the national party without slamming the national party, let alone slamming it based upon right-wing caricatures. I mean, I've seen a lot of positive stuff from the Kaine campaign, I've seen a lot about what kind of person he is and what kind of stuff he believes. He doesn't need to make a comment about windsurfing to convince voters that he is not a "windsurfing Democrat," whatever that is.
In any event, lost in all this is the context in which Kaine made his comments. This was not a national TV appearance or a campaign speech. This was an interview by the American Prospect, a lefty journal asking questions about the political process. In the wake of the election, everyone has started to ask this same banal question, "What can the national Democratic Party do to reach out to the red states?" And it's gotten so trite by now that I can't believe anyone out there wants to hear it asked again. But the fact remains, they asked the question of Tim Kaine, and they got his answer. It's hard to answer that question except in the context of, "What should the national party do that they're not doing now, or what should they avoid doing that they are doing now?"
When the Kilgorites try to paint Kaine as the candidate of John Kerry, Howard Dean, and the like, I hope he is able to address those smears without having to slam Kerry and Dean in so doing. But that day is yet to come.Agreed. I'm not demanding that Dmecorats ask, for example, Hillary Clinton to get married. However, the fact is that red state Democrats do not have to bash other Democrats with Republicans lies in order to win elections. Herseth doesnt do that. Nelson doesnt do that. Napolitano doesnt do that. Warner doesnt do that. Lincoln doesnt do that. Dorgan doesnt do that. Landrieu doesnt do that. Henry doesnt do that. Sebelius doesnt do that. It is not the only way out. It is, however, a way to make sure that Democrats stay down in red states for the long term. As long as we internalize, repeat and validate lies about ourselves, we will always be the losing class no matter how far to the right we move, no matter how much we talk about faith and foreign policy, no matter how much a bogeyman we make of ourselves.