Broder: Wrong Again

David Broder is a champion of the so-called middle way, this imagined bi-partisan nirvana where everyone just gets along and the people's will is done. To Broder, of all the potential presidential candidates, Michael Bloomberg represents the best promise for the fulfillment of this governing philosophy.

As Broder said on Sunday's Meet The Press:

There is such a distaste out there among the people for both these parties, and what the Democratic Congress is doing to destroy the reputation of any Democrat who comes out of Congress, as all of the major candidates do, and what George Bush has done to destroy the credibility of any Republican running as his successor leaves it wide open, if not for Bloomberg, then for somebody else to come down the middle.

Yep, that's right, the Democrats in Congress have done just as much to increase political incivility in 6 months as Bush and his Republican congress did in 6 years. It's a good thing Bloomberg is here, he has just the solution. As he said as he announced his departure from the GOP last week:

We do not have to accept the tired debate between the left and the right, between Democrats and Republicans, between Congress and the White House.

Nope, sure don't, who are these Democrats and Republicans anyway? Broder expands on this theme in his WaPo column:

...there is a palpable hunger among the public for someone who will attack the problems facing the country -- the war in Iraq, immigration, energy, health care -- and not worry about the politics.

Wow, it's become all so clear to me now. "Not worry about the politics," just like Bloomberg when he switched to the GOP just to run for mayor and Schwarzenegger when he tacked left to survive his re-election last year! Nope, no politics there.

To be fair, I can see why Broder would like Bloomberg and Schwarzenegger. Their popularity has come about by actually representing the voters who elected them (i.e. Schwarzenegger's advocacy for stem cell research and capping carbon emissions and Bloomberg's support of gun control and his plan to transition all taxis to a hybrid fleet by 2012) and yes this was achieved, technically, through bi-partisan consensus. But one glance at the issues that Broder correctly identifies as most important to voters -- Iraq, immigration, energy, health care -- and it's clear that only one party is addressing them in any meaningful way. Not only that, it is the Democratic Party that increasingly represents the majority opinion, whether it be withdrawal from Iraq, a path to citizenship, a reduction in our dependence on foreign oil and and increase in investment in renewable energies or expanding affordability and access to healthcare. Yet Broder refuses to acknowledge this. Nope, the Democrats are the problem. Again from Meet The Press:

The Democrats have taken the position that they now will do the nation's business and if they're not doing that business, and clearly the immigration issue is very much on people's minds, I think they will suffer the same consequences that the Republicans suffered a year ago. People are fed up with seeing Washington bickering, fighting, in-fighting and never dealing with the issue.

Worse yet, the Democrats seem to believe it.

Our presidential candidates  seem to have totally bought into the conventional wisdom that partisanship is the problem and that voters will be turned off by any mention of party. Just take a look at their websites.  Where's the mention of the fact that they're Democrats? You have to really search, and I did. Dodd references his party affiliation in his video announcing his national service project and Biden mentions it on his bio page. But other than that, it's like we're the party that shall not be named. I get that they want to sell themselves as the president of EVERYONE but they are fighting for the nomination of the Democratic Party, shouldn't that word appear SOMEWHERE on their front page? Is a "Why I'm a Democrat" page too much to ask?

John Edwards made a passionate statement of what the Democratic Party represents to him at the CDP state convention in April:

I have such a strong belief in what the Demcoratic Party is supposed to represent...If my party can't be the voice for the poor, for the elderly, for the disabled, for the disenfranchised, well, what reason do we exist?

Sure, it's a partisan speech spoken to a partisan audience. I get it, but if you define the party in a strong compelling way to all audiences, not just partisan events, you can get your message out, define who you are even more starkly to voters and even grow the party. That's what Dean did as a candidate in 03 and it's what he continues to do as chairman today. And as I wrote last week, it's something it appears the candidates this year have largely abandoned. I welcome evidence that I'm wrong.

The truth is that the only way the will of the people who elected Democrats into office in November will ultimately be fulfilled is by electing more Democrats, both to the presidency and to a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Running away from ones own party when its core beliefs represent the majority of Americans is foolish. If Broder had his way politicians would meld into each other and the lines between the parties would be blurred (except that everyone would have to do what the Republicans want.) But isn't that exactly what got us into this mess in the first place? The solution to the disillusionment people feel with the two parties is actually to give voters a clear choice; it's this lack of definition that is causing so many people to register unaffiliated or decline-to-state. If you ask independents their main problem with the two-party system, the most common answer I bet you'll get is that "there's no difference between them." It was a ridiculous assertion in 2000 and 2004 but it's even more nuts now.

Tags: bi-partisanship, David Broder, Democratic Party (all tags)

Comments

36 Comments

Re: Broder: Wrong Again

There is a big difference between what the two parties say, but little between what they do.

The Democratic Congress rails against the war, then gives Bush the money to wage it, no strings attached.

The Democratic Congress passes stem cell research, knowing Bush will veto it.

The Democratic Congress is on the verge of passing the Union Card bill, knowing Bush will veto it.

Both parties belong to Big Business and will only pass what they allow. If the war was hurting business, it would end tomorrow.

by antiHyde 2007-06-25 02:32AM | 0 recs
Complete and utter bullshit

So the Dems should not try to pass progressive legislation because Bush will veto it anyway? Will a Democratic president veto it too? Apparently that's what you think since you say that there are no differences between the parties. Bush and Gore - they are the same. Both hate the environment.

Your analysis is exactly on the dismal level that I would expect from a Green Party member.

by Populism2008 2007-06-25 03:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Complete and utter bullshit

Thank you!

by kevin22262 2007-06-25 06:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Complete and utter bullshit

No, I'm saying that they pass legislation only when they know it will be vetoed. Why didn't they pass these bills back when Clinton was president and they held all three branches? I'm not talking about what they SHOULD do. Im talking about what history says they HAVE done.

When we have a Democratic President they will not pass the legislation. Didn't Clinton have a Democratic Congress in the beginning? Didn't Carter?
I'm not sure about Truman. Talk is cheap when you don't have to follow through.

And I didn't say anything about Gore. That is a Red Herring. I'm talking about the Congress.

Bloomberg will not oppose the corporations, but neither will Clinton or Obama. It sounds like Bloomberg might do something progressive, so he desrves consideration.

I would much rather have Edwards or Dean, but Bloomberg might be the best of a poor set of choices. Let's hear him out.

by antiHyde 2007-06-25 03:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Complete and utter bullshit

The middle way huh? And the only one who can save us is a short Jewish billionaire from NYC.  No matter that most of us don't know him or want him to lead us, the media will sell this as the next coming.  Fascism anyone??????

by changehorses08 2007-06-25 08:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Complete and utter bullshit

Something wrong with being Jewish?

by antiHyde 2007-06-26 02:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Complete and utter bullshit

There is nothing wrong with being Jewish, being a billionaire, being short or being from New York City.  What is wrong however, is that with the Bloomberg money and his media conglomerate he doesn't need to participate in primaries or answer to the people because he can run with his own money. To me that is not a breath of fresh air but the same stale backroom politics kicked up a notch.

by changehorses08 2007-07-21 10:48PM | 0 recs
You are wrong!

This is nonsense!

by kevin22262 2007-06-25 06:38AM | 0 recs
Re: You are wrong!

Say it isn't so, Joe!

by antiHyde 2007-06-25 03:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Broder: Wrong Again

Take the money out of politics and you will get the government you want.  Elections cycles should not go on for 2 years.  They should be paid for by our tax dollars and the media should give all candidates free air time.  The media doesn't want this and entrenched politicans are afraid of it.  But if the people want it we can make it happen. If we want the Pols to work for us then we should be the ones to own them.

by changehorses08 2007-06-25 10:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Broder: Wrong Again

Perhaps Grover Norquist had it right when he said that "bipartisanship is another name for date rape."

I think that, above all, Broder wants civility and just thinks that bipartisanship is the way to go. It's not.  There's a failure on the part of Democrats to create a powerful and potentially intimidating presence, the perception that a political fight will be potentially bloody.  Republicans feel free to be incivil toward Democrats because there is no deterrent against it.

by Anthony de Jesus 2007-06-25 03:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Broder: Wrong Again

Because the Democrats are trying to play by the rules, which the repugs did not.

by kevin22262 2007-06-25 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Broder: Wrong Again

No, it's because too many Democrats are pussies who won't fight.

by Anthony de Jesus 2007-06-25 09:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Broder: Wrong Again

BULLSHIT!

LA Times: "Democrats Step Up"

http://www.mydd.com/story/2007/6/25/1544 23/354

by kevin22262 2007-06-25 02:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Broder: Wrong Again

Please, give me your evidence that Democrats have been good fighters when it comes to Iraq.

by Anthony de Jesus 2007-06-26 12:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Broder: Wrong Again

Bi-partisanship fine.  But what Broder is preaching is no parties at all -- just one man telling us what he wants to do on every issue.  I like this country just fine the way it is.  We people can decide when we don't want a party in power -- its called voting.  

by changehorses08 2007-06-25 08:37PM | 0 recs
Great diary

The only way to improve this country is to elect more Democrats. Right now we haven't even got a majority in the Senate (with Lieberman voting with GOP and one Senator being ill). It will take decades to fully implement a progressive agenda. Those who want instant gratification should look for another hobby.

The Republicans must be stamped into the ground, along with the Dreamer... sorry... Green Party.

by Populism2008 2007-06-25 03:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Broder: Wrong Again

Water is wet.

by gak 2007-06-25 04:10AM | 0 recs
when the 'dean' said

what the Democratic Congress is doing to destroy the reputation of any Democrat who comes out of Congress, as all of the major candidates do

I found myself wondering what EXACTLY the Dems in Congress have actually done? He can't mean a failed attempt to stop a war that 75% of Americans no longer support? Or a failed attempt to issue a "no confidence" vote on a corrupt and inept AG?

Or could he?

by Chrispy67 2007-06-25 05:53AM | 0 recs
Re: when the 'dean' said

So... the democrats, who have held a small majority and an extremely weak one in the senate, have "done nothing"?

BS!

by kevin22262 2007-06-25 06:41AM | 0 recs
Re: when the 'dean' said


They've stalemated and braked a runaway Presidency.  It's not obvious the country actually wants a great deal of change in such a hurry.  There is no grand public decision about Iraq, or about immigration/civil rights, or about taxation- yet.  What The People has created, via this procrastination-forcing stalemate in the Beltway, is more time for its latent angers and resentments/bigotries and fears to bubble up or be shat out into the public arena, and dealt with.

All the major decisions a country has let willingly be imposed on it for 5 years are not likely to be reversed in a matter or days or weeks, or even months, by a mere 53% of the House of Representatives, 50.5% of the Senate, 44% of the Supreme Court, and 0% of the Presidency.

The process is clearly going just one way, with generational dying out and erosion of the 'conservative' point of view and fading out of the residues of the Cold War.  For the time being we have the last 24% hard core 'conservative' electorate, fighting a final desperate and all-out battle for its 1940s America, dominating in the public arena and mental space because of its energy and effort and realization that it has run out of time.  53% to 62% of the electorate respectfully rejects that wholesale.  But about 20% of the electorate is passively, for various reasons, undecided or on the side of the reactionaries.

The country will break the stalemate, which will depend much on the reactionaries burning out as a force, and elect more Democrats in November '08.  The Presidency and a decaying Washington establishment lies between Democrats and their agenda.  

by killjoy 2007-06-25 11:35AM | 0 recs
Re: when the 'dean' said

The dying breed of Conservatives also has control of our media. They have decided with more than 70% of Americans saying they have had it with the Republican Party--what people really want is no parties at all.  It would be laughable were it not so tragic for this great nation.

by changehorses08 2007-06-25 08:48PM | 0 recs
Bloomberg is bad for America!

I used this as a comment yesterday and it satands for the same reason. I am tired... and need to get to work.

I am to tired to do this justice, so here is a snip from Salon:

   

If Bloomberg does run for president next year, he will have some explaining to do. Two billion dollars would buy a lot of television advertising, but no amount of money will stop voters from asking questions.

   For instance, voters will want to know why he joined the Republican Party after a lifetime supporting Democrats. And they may not like the answer when they learn that he essentially bought the New York Republican mayoral nomination from the party's leaders and then narrowly won the election by spending an unprecedented $70 million. In a stunning act of overkill, he spent even more to win reelection against a hapless, hopelessly underfunded Democratic opponent two years ago.

   Voters will also want to know whether he suddenly left the Republican Party only because its prospects are so dim. Only three years ago, he heartily endorsed the reelection of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, even vowing to carry New York City for the ticket. Those were the days when he was still an enthusiastic Republican booster and generous party donor, and was praising the GOP as the party of "honesty, efficiency, compassion and inclusion." That sounds ridiculous now, of course, but was he cynically mouthing those banalities, or did he believe them? It is hard to say which would be worse.

   http://www.salon.com/opinion/conason/200 7/06/22/bloomberg/

Opportunistic rich man only beholden to himself (not We The People). I don't want election BOUGHT or stolen!

by kevin22262 2007-06-25 06:36AM | 0 recs
Hey, If A Guy Can't Lie Through His Teeth

then what's America come to?

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-06-25 11:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Broder: Wrong Again

I think what Broder yearns for is the civility of yesteryear when issues/ideas were hard fought but politics was not necessarily personal.  Think of the friendship b/w Tip O'Neill and Jerry Ford for example.  Of course, a lot of that was born out of the common experiences and sacrifices during the depression and WW II.  I don't see it coming back anytime soon.

With regards to Bloomberg, as a NYC resident I have been giving a lot of thought to his candidacy.  I have never voted for the guy but overall I have been pleased with the job he has done.  

I just don't see him as a Presidential candidate and that is partly b/c local government doesn't really lend itself to partisan politics.  Issues like picking up garbage, repaving streets, fighting fires, funding schools and libraries, etc do not tend to be partisan unless you are Rudy Giuliani.  There are definitely turf battles and lots of NIMBY fights but those are different and tend to be easier to bridge.  

I don't think you can take this experience and somehow use it to bridge basic ideological differences from defense/foreign policy to health care funding to taxes.  My voting habits on a local level are about who I think can manage a municipal govt/budget of $50 billion as much as ideology and I don't think that is unusual.  This is may in part be b/c I grew-up in NYC during its fiscal crisis and lived in DC  during its fiscal crisis but those experiences emphasis in my mind why good management is so important on the local level.

National politics, on the other hand, is a different animal from municipal politics (even a huge city like NY) and I just don't see Bloomberg's can do, manager attitude working for a Presidential run.  People like that in a Mayor but want more from a President.

by John Mills 2007-06-25 06:55AM | 0 recs
But What About All Those Mayors Who Ran For Pres??

Like John Lindsey?

Or was that Vachel Lindsay?

Errr...

Vachel had the better banners, by far.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-06-25 11:33AM | 0 recs
But What About All Those Mayors Who Ran For Pres

That worked well for Lindsay!!!!!  My guess in the Bloomberg will do about the same.

by John Mills 2007-06-25 12:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Broder: Wrong Again

I think what Broder yearns for is the civility of yesteryear when issues/ideas were hard fought but politics was not necessarily personal.

It's easy for everyone to be civil when one party has a healthy majority and a lock on maintaining it indefinitely, as Congressional Democrats had through the 60s, 70s and 80s.  Everyone can relax and cut deals, secure in the belief that when the time comes to settle up, nobody's status will have changed very much.  Tip O'Neill and Jerry Ford can do business knowing that over the long haul, all the debts will be paid.

Incivility comes when the parties are roughly in balance, or when it is becoming apparent that the majority's days are numbered.  Each dispute has to be settled now, not in the long run, no compromise, no logrolling, because there's too much risk that everybody's status will have changed after the next election.

That's why the Gingrich-Armey-DeLay "take no prisoners" style of incivility was so telling.  They knew that their situation was precarious.  They wanted to wreck the government, but they had to do it fast, before the voters caught on.  For them there was no long run where logs could roll the other way.

Seen this way, Broder's call for civility seems intended to set the table for demands that the Democrats not play tit-for-tat when they solidify their majority in 2008.  What a weasel.

by drlimerick 2007-06-25 01:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Broder: Wrong Again

Well though out and well said.  Thank you.

by changehorses08 2007-06-25 08:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Broder: Wrong Again

You know guys, dont be stupid. Just because David Broder's an establishment hack doesn't mean he's always wrong. If you want to live in your own "Green Zone" about American politics, that's up to you. But don't deny the simple fact that there's great revulsion out there for both parties and the majority of Americans are disenfranchised from politics.

If you can't deal with reality, you're certainly not going to be able to come up with anything healthy to do about it.

by brutus1 2007-06-25 06:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Broder: Wrong Again

It's not Broder's diagnosis I necessarily take issue with, it's his prescription.

by Todd Beeton 2007-06-25 09:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Broder: Wrong Again


Yeah, but the polling is 55% for electing more Democrats, 35% for Republicans.  The blaming is not as equitable as Broder or you pretend.

We are at stalemate- a Republican executive branch that has a lot to cover up and as partisan as we've ever seen, and a Democratic Congress that reflects the degree of opposition of its partisans and the lesser opposition of average people quite accurately.

Yes, we do know the reality.  It is that the Americans you call disenfranchised are enablers- they elected the Republican monster in 2002/2004 to do some dirty deeds they wanted done.   They became tired of it and its abuses of themselves in 2006, and stalemated it.  They could have elected a real Democratic majority in the Senate, but Lieberman/Ensign/Corker/Kyl convinced them otherwise.

As a country we have worked in 4 year units of a direction changing midterm election followed by a Presidential election to reinforce it since, oh, 1990 at least.  We use up the faction empowered the previous midterm and elect one from the other Party to take control.  It's a politician/factional burnout game, and the Democratic Party is down to one viable faction- the liberals- and the Republican Party is out.

The reality is that if you want functional and representative government, don't vote in people who tell you government can't work and is only a vehicle for resentments and punishment and patronage.  And rather than work for you, it should merely look like you and tell you what you want to hear.  All these wonderful "disenfranchised" people voted that crowd in...and now there's buyers' remorse and denial that that is what you did.  Why should politicians respect you?  Because you deserve it?

by killjoy 2007-06-25 11:01AM | 0 recs
Decades of Demonization Pay Off!

It's hardly surprising that decades of conservative demonization of "big government," "liberals" and "The Democrat Party" have poisoned a lot of people's minds.

But that doesn't mean the Democrats are to blame for being too partisan.  They're to blame for being inept at playing the game of a Gramscian War of Position--in fact, they don't even recognize that they're in one.

When people who support government spending to solve social problems can't even find a coherent party message and follow-through to match their views, the problem is not with the party that embodies their views for being too partisan.  It's with that party for being politically inept.  And listening to David Broder is one way to ensure that it will continue being politically inept.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-06-25 11:45AM | 0 recs
What our leaders need is pride in Dem Party

Our Dem leaders should be proud of the principles Democratic Party stand for and own it big.  They should be proud for standing up for the people,  unlike the Republican Party that advocates govt for the rich by the rich and of the rich.

After all, Democratic Party issues are the issues of the people.  Polling results testify to this.

Dem leaders should stop listening to consultants and just stand with people who will watch their backs.

by jasmine 2007-06-25 07:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Broder: Wrong Again

Broder has been around while the moderate wing of the Republican party has pretty much been euthanized.  Has he missed that?  It's happened in his own backyard, too.  Let's give it some background.

Jerry Ford may have been from Michigan but environmentalism progressed on his watch.  Ford held off Reagan once (barely) but was pretty much unable to stop or even slow Reaganism.  

Since 1994, the number of Republican Senators from the Northeast has been cut in half from 10 to 5.  The missing?  Al D'Amato (NY), Jim Jeffords (VT), Rick Santorum (PA), Lincoln Chaffee (RI), William Roth (DE).  The Great Lakes region has lost Mike DeWine (OH), Dan Coats (IN), Spencer Abraham (MI), and Peter Fitzgerald (IL).
Although the ideologies range, that's a lot of the moderate wing, right there.

In the House, Connie Morrella (MD), Bob Franks and Marge Roukema (NJ), Sherwood Boehlert, Amo Houghton (NY), Nancy Johnson and Rob Simmons (CT) have bit the dust.  At first it was one or two a cycle, then in 2006 it was 11.  A big part of that was the Club for Growth consistently pushing hard right in local primaries.  If you compare the 1994 roster to the 2006 results, the GOP has lost ground in every single state in the Northeast (all 11).  In the last four national elections, Republicans have managed to win a combined total of one state (out of 44 possible) by a margin of 7,000 votes (unfortunately it cost Gore the Presidency). In the previous hundred and ninety six years of competitive elections, Democrats had managed to sweep the region only once (LBJ in 1964).  Even FDR was unable to sweep, ever.  

by David Kowalski 2007-06-25 07:38AM | 0 recs
The game senators play

Every senator knows that 90% of the time the candidate with the most money wins.  So, the big game in Washington, DC is who can please the contributors the best.  The competition is fierce.  That competition is the problem.  Broader's role is that of the referee.  He makes sure that the players keep competing.  He just calls it bipartisanship.

This way, it doesn't matter who wins, as long as the game stays the same.

by Bryce in Seattle 2007-06-26 12:30AM | 0 recs

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