"donations of money were gleefully accepted, but there was no mechanism for puting volunteers to work; the strong impression was given, that outsiders were troublemakers."
That's unfortunately a problem in a lot of states. The Arizona party has the same cliquish atmosphere.
I don't see this as an issue over whether the party should move left or right. It's an issue of whether this should be a grassroots party or one controlled tightly from the top by party insiders. Somehow we are going to have to either get new party leadership that welcomes and incorporates the grassroots, or else make an end run around the current leadership entirely.
Oh, I can dispute what you said. I didn't see it as worth the time if all I was going to get was the same canned response you posted to four other people.
But since you asked, repealing NAFTA and the WTO will be a good thing overall for workers in all countries, but it won't make much of a dent in illegal migration.
Two things will:
Unionization, around the world, with independent labor unions of the sort that would be recognized as a union in the U.S. or Europe (not company unions or government controlled unions). Unionization is the only thing historically proven to end sweatshops and raise wages to middle-class levels.
Cutting off the demand here at home for illegal, low-wage labor. That demand comes from dishonest employers willing to break the law so they can evade our wage and labor laws. Making it a high priority to enforce the wage and labor laws would include enforcing sanctions against employers who hire illegal, sub-minimum wage labor. Sanctions could include: Revoking business licenses of businesses which hire illegal labor, barring anyone caught hiring illegal labor from government contracts, revoking corporate charters of companies caught hiring illegal labor, confiscating the land of agribusiness outfits caught hiring illegal labor, stiff jail sentences for corporate executives and politicians caught hiring illegal nannies or housekeepers, etc. This also includes an all-out effort to prosecute "coyotes", who are just the lowest form of exploiters around and don't care if people live or die, as long as they pay.
Doing #2 above would also help with reviving labor unions in the U.S. Right now farmworkers are largely unorganized, and the threat to any farmworkers who do try to organize is "we'll just replace you with illegal aliens."
Concentrating on unionization in the third world, and prosecution of employers in the U.S. (rather than illegal migrants themselves), would get at the root of the problem rather than the symptoms.
But I think you're missing the point. Either we promote a liberal/left approach (such as I outlined above) to ending illegal migration, or the right wing is going to do it for us. The right wing's approach will include: national ID cards, internal checkpoints and roadblocks, military on the border. Things that I'd rather not see happen.
Note I said a liberal/left approach to ending illegal migration, not encouraging it or accepting it. What is not helpful is to pretend that illegal migration isn't a problem, pretend that a flood of cheap labor is good for this country or any country, calling names like "right wing" or "Buchanan" or "xenophobia" whenever a liberal suggests we need to address the issue, or resort to arguments that our economy depends on low-wage illegal labor and would collapse without it (e.g., that movie "A Day Without A Mexican"). That last argument is straight out of the libertarian right's playbook (especially the Julian Simon followers); in the 1910s and 1920s they said our economy would collapse if it unionized too, and what we got instead was middle-class prosperity.
One thing to point out, three of the polls asked about whether there was a perceived liberal bias. The one about the entertainment industry that had almost identical responses across party lines asked about "lowering the moral standards."
That probably explains the poll results. Heck, I would have answered in the affirmative to that particular poll. But then, I see Republican economic policies, especially media deregulation, as the main reason for the declining moral standards in entertainment. To the extent that the conservative movement attacks all things that have a moral basis (such as peace, welfare, minimum wage laws, labor unions, Social Security, protecting the environment, etc.) the conservative movement is amoral to begin with, maybe even nihilistic.
What the religious right fails to understand is that the totally unregulated capitalism that the Republican Party promotes, leads straight to the lowest common denominator in entertainment and popular culture. Reaganomics has done more to destroy traditional American values than anything the religious right imagines the left ever did.
If the poll had asked "is there a liberal bias in the entertainment industry" instead of "is it lowering the moral standards," I think we would see results more in line with the other polls.
One thing I see as a core liberal value is bringing everybody into the benefits of a middle class existence. That was the basis of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. It was also the basis of the New Deal of the 1930s and 1940s - although the next logical step after that was the Civil Rights movement, because of existing instituionalized exclusion of some people which excluded them, at first, from the benefits of the New Deal.
It's something we need to recapture as our core message today.
Liberalism has shifted from an all-inclusive message to one of identity politics, in which groups advocate for their own interests, and people seem too willing to identify with one oppressed group or another. That, fairly or unfairly, gives an image of exclusionary politics. In this case the people excluded are those groups not well organized, as well as those who don't identify with any oppressed group. Identity politics creates "angry white males" out of a lot of working class people who should be part of the liberal coalition. The next logical step after identity politics is when "angry white males" do start organizing, to dismiss them and label those people as somehow an inherently reactionary phenomenon. Dismiss them and label them reactionary, and they will become just that. The Republicans got them because we dropped the ball. That was one point I hoped to make above.
We need to somehow recapture an all-inclusive message.
Very good analysis overall. I have long believed that the 1992 Perot voters, and the "Reagan Democrats" of the 1980s, were mostly people who might be, can be, should be Democratic voters.
We failed to speak to them. We looked down on them. The Clinton administration and the DLC "centrist" policymakers failed to listen to their concerns, and pursued policies that alienated them. The left responded even more poorly, dismissed their attempts to organize politically with names like "fusion paranoia" and "right-wing populism", and even tried to link them to the right-wing militia movement. The Republicans saw the opportunity and pounced on it in 1994, and that bloc have been Republican voters ever since.
Some observations about this big voting bloc:
They aren't right-wing. They aren't left-wing either. If anything they are apolitical and centrist. They differ from other "centrists" like the DLC in that they are alienated from mainstream institutions and see them working against their needs and concerns.
They respond well to libertarian rhetoric. I don't mean the extreme Libertarian policy proposals (deregulate everything, abolish public roads, sell the national parks, end taxation, totally open borders, legalize drugs, etc.) but libertarian rhetoric of the small-l type: "get government off your backs", freedom of choice in personal matters whether it's guns or abortion, respect property rights.
Despite responding well to libertarian rhetoric, they are not, as a rule, libertarians. In many ways they are the opposite - lean liberal on economic issues, lean conservative on social issues.
Trade policy, protecting American jobs, globalization, offshoring, outsourcing, guest worker visas, high illegal immigration levels, and the like, are big issues with them. So are wages - raising the minimum wage would go over well with them. The DLC's pro-corporate "New Democrat" policy prescriptions leave them cold and alienated.
Some are union members, and some are farmers, but they aren't by and large a blue-collar bloc anymore. As the rest of America has shifted away from blue-collar and agriculture toward white-collar jobs and service-sector jobs, so have they. But they maintain more of an identification with the blue-collar politics of the past than others have.
From 1932 to 1976, that voting bloc was part of the Democratic Party coalition. That is because FDR brought them in by speaking to their needs and meeting those needs. The 1948 Henry Wallace campaign was an anomoly, and was more a test of whether this bloc would go back to voting thrid party if given the chance. Wallace only got 1% of the vote - and of all the maps above, his campaign was the worst performing, even Nader in 2000 and Lemke in 1936 did better. Otherwise, there was no significant third party campaign (except for the various Dixiecrat segregationists, who did well in the South but nowhere else) from 1932 to 1976. Anderson in 1980 marked the end of that era.
One thing I want to point out though, where you said, "This is how we grow liberalism and finally push the liberal electoral coalition first postulated by the McGovern campaign into power."
How and why the Republicans have been able to get so much mileage out of portraying liberalism as elitist is a subject that could have volumes written about it. For better understanding than I can articulate, I recommend books like "What's the Matter With Kansas?" But I am going to put forth an argument here that might be unpopular but I am going to say it anyway: The Republican narrative that portrays liberalism as elitist is not without basis in reality, and the roots of that can be found in the 1972 McGovern coalition.
Sometime during the 1970s, liberalism became steadily less associated in the public mind with the old New Deal coalition of FDR and Truman, organized labor, and the old Civil Rights coalition of Truman, JFK, and LBJ. Instead it became associated with newer groups that emerged out of the McGovern campaign: the Childrens Defense Fund, the Southern Povery Law Center, Handgun Control Inc., the National Organization for Women, etc. Those groups are seen by Joe Sixpack as promoting policies that are too far left on social issues, and emphasize social liberalism as opposed to economic liberalism. Concurrent with that, a lot of celebrities became spokespeople for liberal causes, creating an impression that liberalism's strongest base is in Hollywood instead of on Main Street USA.
Reagan and the nascent New Right movement seized on the new face of liberalism and used it to their advantage. Except for Clinton, we have had Republican administrations since 1980. I also think Clinton only got elected because of Perot taking most of the "Reagan Democrat" votes that would otherwise have gone Republican.
Liberalism acquired a reputation, deserved or not, as wimpy and elitist, in place of the old fighting liberalism of a Truman or an LBJ that spoke to the working class.
The DLC attempted to posit a "centrist" alternative, but all they did was they took that new face of liberalism and merely watered it down, promoting policies that are socially liberal, but fiscally conservative. Working class needs got ignored in the process.
How did the new liberal groups, as well as the DLC, respond to the Perot phenomenon? Reagan Democrats? Pat Buchanan? By dismissing them as know-nothings. Ignoring their concerns over NAFTA and American jobs. Passing laws like the Brady Bill over their objections. One reporter wrote a widely discussed opinion piece calling them "fusion paranoids". One liberal group churned out report after report on the threat from "right-wing populism" and all but accused the voting bloc of having fascist tendencies. The DLC adopted an attitude that they were behind the times and trying to stop inevitable trends such as globalization and deregulation. Some Libertarians responded the same way, with one author writing a book called "The Future and Its Enemies" that accused them of being enemies of technology and progress.
I am less interested in pushing the liberal electoral coalition first postulated by the McGovern campaign into power, because politically, I don't think it's a viable strategy. It is, in fact, an image we need to jettison. Instead, I am interested in pushing the liberal electoral coalition, first postulated by Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, back into power.
To do that, we are going to have to win over the independent, non-ideological "reformer" segment. But my argument here, is we will never be able to do that unless liberalism shifts back to promoting economic liberalism, and away from the post-McGovern emphasis on social issues.
Howard Dean was on the right track in at least two ways, one with his position that gun control needs to get off the national agenda, and the other with his widely misunderstood remark about winning over the voters with Confederate Flag decals on their trucks. But he also has too much baggage, too much association with social liberalism and with the DLC's fiscal conservatism, to be really effective. Unfortunately I can't think of anyone better right now though. We have a long way to go to undo the problems in the Democratic Party.
I've had a theory for a while that American politics runs in 40/80 year cycles, after noticing some parallels:
Bill Clinton (1993-2000) - two-term centrist Democrat in the middle of an otherwise Republican dominated era. Elected with the help of third party candidate H. Ross Perot in 1992.
Go back exactly 40 years and you find:
Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1960) - two-term centrist Republican in the middle of an otherwise Democratic dominated era. (No third party help in his case)
Exactly 40 years before that:
Woodrow Wilson (1913-1920) - two-term centrist Democrat in the middle of an otherwise Republican dominated era. Elected with the help of third party candidate Theodore Roosevelt in 1912.
Other interesting facts:
Republican-dominated era: 1896-1932 (except Wilson)
Democratic-dominated era: 1932-1968 (except Eisenhower)
Republican-dominated era: 1968-? (except Carter and Clinton)
Doesn't quite follow the 40/80 year theory but it's pretty close.
Bush (R) 47.87% popular 271 electoral
Gore (D) 48.38% popular 266 electoral
40 years before that, the 1960 election:
Kennedy (D) 49.72% popular 303 electoral
Nixon (R) 49.55% popular 219 electoral
Both elections hotly contested and racked by charges of vote fraud.
Democrats lost, amid the early stages of a resurgent liberal movement (also note that the most obvious sign of that movement - LaFollette's third party run - came 76 years before Nader played the same role in 2000. Not quite 80 years but close.)
Republicans lost, amid the early stages of a resurgent conservative movement.
Democrats lost, amid the early stages of a resurgent liberal movement.
Assuming the theory holds true, 2004 wasn't our turn yet. Our turn will be 2008 (40 years after Nixon ushered in the Republican era), or 2012 (80 years after FDR ushered in the last Democratic era.)
Also, the theory falls apart if you go back before 1896, so it's not meant to be any kind of scientific political analysis, just an observation.
There's an interesting book that sheds a lot of light on the current parallels with the 1920s, and also backs up and has a plausible explanation for my theory about politics running in 40/80 year cycles; "The Fourth Turning" by Neil Howe and William Strauss.
Well I think #1 and #2 are unreasonable as currently written for precisely the reasons I mentioned earlier.
If they were rewritten in this way (changes in bold) then that would take care of the problem of being gay or lesbian, having a minor traffic offenses in Pennsylvania, etc making somebody a prohibited possessor:
People dishonorably discharged from the military because of conviction of a crime of violence
People under indictment for, or convicted of, a crime of violence punishable by jail time over 1 year
But as long as they remain on the books as-is, I don't support the gun laws as currently written, and I certainly will not entertain any talk of passing any more gun laws. The only federal gun law on the books that I really don't have a problem with is the 1934 National Firearms Act.
By the way, more often then not people who attempt to obtain C.O. discharges from the military wind up being court martialed, and "qualified" is such a narrow definition that it is meaningless, since it excludes political objection or selective objection to a particular war - such as Iraq. Same thing goes for gays and lesbians who in theory get honorable discharges - yeah, right. That all depends on how vindictive and homophobic the commander is.
I also think these two are unreasonable as currently written:
Users of controlled substances (illegal drugs)
Those who have renounced their U.S. citizenship
The practical effect of #4 is that:
Possession of a gun is legal
Possession of a marijuana joint is illegal, but in many states is only the equivalent of a minor traffic offense
* Get caught with a joint and a gun at the same time - for example pot is found in your home and your dad's shotgun is also found in the closet, you get 5 years minimum in federal prison.
This could include medical marijuana users too, in states where medical marijuana is legal (but not accepted as legal by the federal govt.)
As for #7, does this mean any American who moves to Canada, Costa Rica or New Zealand and takes citizenship there is no longer allowed to touch a firearm when they visit the U.S.? That is absurd.
In fact I think this is one area where the Democratic Party can and should outflank the Republicans on gun rights - rewriting the prohibited categories to make them fair. If they're supposed to stop violent felons from buying guns, what are all those other things doing in there?
[i]For example, the background checks required by the Brady Law have stopped 600,000 attempted gun purchases by criminals and other prohibited persons since 1994.[/i]
Those "other prohibited persons" include people with single drug convictions from 30 or 40 years ago still on their records, people with dishonorable discharges from the military (for any reason - such as being gay or lesbian or a conscientious objector), people who had to go to court in Pennsylvania for minor traffic offenses in the 1970s or before when even minor offenses carried potential 3 year sentences, and people convicted of "sodomy" before the Supreme Court finally overturned the laws.
The "prohibited" categories were, in fact, written specifically to disarm communities of color and those most inclined to be political leftists, while continuing to allow conservative white males their guns. No different from those states still practicing Jim Crow by imposing lifetime voting bans on ex-felons.
"I'm not bothered by the centrism of Southern Dems as I am about their unwillingness to try and argue for their party."
That's my position exactly.
I argue for a big tent party that welcomes "blue dogs", centrists, liberals, and progressives alike, and there's probably room for other groups to caucus in the party too (see www.progress.org/dfc/ for an example). We also need to be doing whatever we can to bring Greens, moderate (ex)-Republicans, and whatever is left of the old Ross Perot constituency into the party. I'll leave the ideological hair splitting and the narrow, extreme-right agenda to the Republicans. Let the Democratic Party grab the broad center, and let the Republicans stew in the far right mess they have created for themselves.
But I'm most likely to support those who are fighters, who work to get Democrats elected regardless of 100% agreement on the issues, and who support the party and don't try to distance themselves from it. Most importantly, I support those who stand up to the Republican Party power grab. It could be Mark Warner, it could be Howard Dean - again, I'm not so concerned about which wing of the party they represent.
John F. Kennedy 49.72% popular vote, 303 electoral votes
Richard Nixon 49.55% popular vote, 219 electoral votes
Lyndon Johnson 61.05% popular vote, 486 electoral votes
Barry Goldwater 38.47% popular vote, 52 electoral votes
George Bush 50.95% popular vote, 286 electoral votes
John Kerry 48.09% popular vote, 252 electoral votes
John McCain ? popular votes, ? electoral votes
Hillary Clinton ? popular votes, ? electoral votes
Think 1964. And don't let it happen. Hillary Clinton cannot be our nominee. She needs to do her part to move the Democratic Party forward right now, by announcing that she is not interested in the 2008 nomination. If she runs, she will set back our chances of taking back the country by another four years.
I bring up the comparison between 1960-64 and today for another reason too. The early 1960s were the beginning ferment of today's New Right - just like today there is the beginning of a resurgent liberalism. Nixon was the right's man in 1960, but by 1964 the real true believers thought Nixon was too liberal, and they practically took over the party and nominated Goldwater. That was jumping the gun. America wasn't ready for Goldwater yet.
In 2004 our man was Kerry - but I am already seeing talk (not so much here as on certain another forums) that Kerry is too centrist and we need to nominate somebody way to the left.
Let's not make that mistake. Kerry is exactly where we need to be politically. Remember that after the big Goldwater wipeout in 1964 the New Right reorganized, while Nixon made a comeback.
If we nominate either Hillary Clinton, or somebody too far to the left (Kucinich for example), I'm afraid we are going to have to learn the same lesson that the right wing learned the hard way in 1964.
Also keep in mind where the right wing is today. Reagan easily got elected in 1980 running about where Goldwater did, and the Bush regime today is way to the right of where Goldwater or Reagan were. But they got there by building a conservative movement and conservative institutions over 4 decades.
What I'm saying is, our day is coming, but taking back our country is going to be a long, slow process. Let's get on with that process of building the new liberal think tanks, reorganizing the labor movement and reunionizing the workplaces, reconnecting with working class people in red state and rural America, building the new liberal base out of all the grassroots energy from the 2004 campaigns, etc. And let's keep the long run in mind, not jump the gun by nominating people too far to the left, and not get sidetracked with pointless conspiracy theories which only promote apathy (if elections are rigged, why bother voting?).
We have a lot of work to do.
The most important thing we could do to push that work forward is to drop any further talk of Hillary Clinton running for President in 2008.
I think it's a good idea. At least we should be giving serious consideration to such a ticket. That is, if either of them are interested in the job.
It at least shows the kind of out-of-the-box thinking we are going to have to start doing. One thing we need to nip in the bud is any talk of Hillary Clinton being the nominee, or Al Gore running again. I think the biggest problem plaguing the party right now is a lot of the party image gives the public impression of a throwback to the 1970s - specifically, to the groups and pet issues that gained a foothold in the party during McGovern's 1972 run. We need new blood in the party, need to jettison the 1970s image (that means getting Ted Kennedy, Hillary, Gore, Feinstein, et al out of the public spotlight, and wiping at least one issue - gun control - completely off the agenda.)
I'm more favorable, though, toward Howard Dean or Wesley Clark. As I said, we need new blood in the party, whether from the left or the center. If there's any spirit from the past we need to recapture, it's not from the 1970s social movements but rather the spirit of FDR and Truman. Push hard to the left on bread and butter issues, not social issues.
I'm going to throw out another idea: Whoever gets the nomination, put Mary Landrieu or Byron Dorgan on the ticket as the VP nominee.
Also I should point out that Reid's latest score from the pro-choice Population Connection (www.populationconnection.org) is 71%. I favor their scores over NARALs as a more accurate gauge of whether somebody is pro-choice.
By comparison, John McCain's Pop Conn score is 14% and Zell Miller's is 0%. Reid is pro-choice in my book, or at least sufficiently so that calling him anti-Roe is way over the top.
The original diary was one of the best posts I've seen anywhere, post-election. Probably the most important.
You're right about this:
"Basically, the working class harbors a lot more anger towards the upper middle class and the underclass than they do to the wealthy."
But that was the whole point of the original poster as I understood it. We should have a Democratic Party that represents these three class interests:
uppermiddle class (typically urban professionals)
working class (the "some/no college" crowd)
underclass (mostly minorities and white trash)
as opposed to the Republicans, who only represent this one:
wealthy (business owners, investors, etc)
And from the 1930s to the 1970s, we did have just such a lineup.
The question is, how did we lose Joe Six Pack? If you're saying class resentment on the part of working class whites is a big part of it, you're right. But if you're saying that this class resentment is inevitable, that's where I disagree strongly.
A few keys might include: revive organized labor, make raising the minimum wage and putting a halt to offshoring/guest workers/outsourcing core Democratic issues, stake out a centrist position on social issues instead of a far left one, and drop gun control from the agenda entirely.
What about the large numbers who consider themselves fiscally liberal and socially conservative? That is, when they think about politics at all?
That's the old Democratic base we've lost. That's the big swatch of red painted across the middle of the country on election maps. That's who we need to win back- Joe Six Pack.
The "fiscally conservative/socially liberal" combination only works in the upscale suburbs on the coasts and areas with a lot of high tech industry and soccer moms. It's been a losing strategy for the Democratic Party. The only reason it appeared to work during the Clinton years was because of Perot running as a spoiler.