A Democrat I’d Follow

Speaking of Democratic reinvention, check out “Democrats For National Security,” a group started by Timothy Bergreen; it’s well worth clicking through the entire Powerpoint Presentation.

Sign me up…check out this slide:

Mission One

Rebuild the consensus in the Democratic Party in favor of a strong national security … reclaim the mantle of Roosevelt, Truman and, Kennedy

Make party aware of the danger and costs we as a party face if we do nothing.
Credibility as a Commander-in-Chief a threshold issue for 2004 Presidential nominee
1992 was an aberration; end of Cold War took issue away for GOP
Broader Democratic agenda advanced when we are in control of Executive Branch
Progressive agenda suffers when we ignore these issues
Craft a coherent message that the Democratic Party and individual candidates can sell to the American public.

Well, duuuuh…

10 thoughts on “A Democrat I’d Follow”

  1. Craft a coherent message that the Democratic Party and individual candidates can sell to the American public.

    This talking point is interesting for a number of reasons.

    1. That they need to point this out. It seem as if a good part of the DP seems to be more interesting in bashing Bush than advancing their own agenda, and

    2. That they must “craft” a message to be “sold.” What about crafting a message that clearly and coherently conveys our Party’s agenda? Hmm. Where’s the focus here?

    Sounds like politics for politics’ sake, to me. Although to be fair, I haven’t read the presentation.

  2. My first impression is that anyone who considers Bill Clinton a bold leader who confronted threats is either deluded or simply playing politics. After viewing the power point presentation, I must conclude its another “spin” to make the democrats appear strong and supportive of an issue that they gutted and ignored for decades. Bottom line is that a majority the amreican people believe the democrats are weak on national security and defense because they have been since the late sixties.

  3. During the Kennedy Administration and before, it was possible for the Democratic Party to be defense-positive, because the party had not yet become so beholden to special interest groups. Today, that posture is unavailable to it.

    Special interests see every pot of money available to the federal government as a target for their own excision. They tend to succeed at getting their hands into the till in proportion to 1) their size, and 2) their ability to stake some sort of claim to moral high ground. Thus, the defense “special interest” will always have less lobbying power than any of the others that possess significant popular allegiance and command, racial, ethnic, feminist, environmental, or other pseudo-moral foundations.

    My estimate is that about 70% of the Democratic vote in any general election is provided by special interests — one-issue voters. The Democrats will always weigh that figure against the few hundred thousand votes they might gain from arguing for increased defense spending, and slough defense. Nor is this likely to change; the special-interest dynamic has never yet been deposed by a more powerful force, once it’s claimed the heart of a political party.

  4. Yeah, Francis P., the Democrats are the only party with “special interest, one-issue voters.” No such thing would ever cross the mind of any Republican politician. Whatever.

    The Dem. leaders in Congress missed a decent chance last summer to get together on Iraq and exert some credible influence on the debate. Almost all of them (Kerry, Edwards, Gephardt, Lieberman, Daschle, Biden, a few others) basically agreed that taking on Saddam was worth it, but that the approach had to emphasize the UN resolutions and their enforcement. None of Bush’s “pre-emption” arguments stood up on their own. When asked why Iraq and not Iran, N. Korea, Syria, etc., the “pre-emption” crowd had to invoke Saddam’s history of aggression against his neighbors and his banned WMD programs–precisely the things that were in the UN resolutions. The Dem. leaders should have agreed to put their differences aside (not easy when they’re all gearing up for their primary campaigns) and speak with one voice on that message: yes, let’s deal with Iraq, but we won’t support a war resolution in Congress unless Bush goes through the UN.
    The party was going to be divided between pro-war and anti-war no matter what, but the leadership could have taken some credit for the UN route that Bush ultimately chose if they had done that. Several of them–Lieberman, Edwards, Gephardt, and Biden–were pretty consistent throughout the Iraq debate in emphasizing most of those points, but the lack of a recognizably collective effort hurt the party. It’s even more important to have an unmistakably consistent message from the top of the party when you don’t have the White House to lead the agenda.

  5. Actually, it is quite fair to suggest that Democrats are more special-interest oriented. Indeed, when Republicans talk about special interests, it’s Democrats they’re needling.

    The fact is that the Democratic Party has, historically, always concentrated on building together groups of special interests. It’s their raison detre as a party. How else can you explain the odd assortment of trade unionists, lawyers, gay rights activists, feminists, and minority groups under one single tent?

    Democrats work this way. You can make a strong argument that it makes them a highly “democratic” party because concentrating on cobbling together a group of special interests and building a coalition that way means a huge diversity of views is represented.

    Republicans, most especially over the last 25 years or so, have concentrated on a narrower and more specific agenda. They, too, have a coalition of interests, but the issues represented are more broad and diffuse. In one sense, you could say that theirs is less democratic and more ideal-driven. The question being whether you respect their chosen ideals or not–not everyone does.

    By the way, A.L. — I don’t suppose it would matter if I pointed out that the Bush tax cuts gave the people at the bottom, the single mothers especially, a huge benefit in a massively expanded earned income credit for children? That, indeed, the people on that end of the income scale are the ones to receive the biggest benefit from those tax cuts by far–especially since “the rich” haven’t had their tax cuts phased in yet?

    No, I suppose it doesn’t matter. This is part of why I walked out of the Democratic party. Anything to give any benefit at all to “the rich” is considered axiomatically bad and evil and destructive. It’s that sort of irrationality that really upsets me about the party.

    But it may be necessary. Self-described “liberals” (i.e. leftists) are about half the number of self-described “conservatives.” Thus, Democrats must concentrate on more than an idea-based agenda. They have to have enough to attract the political left that loves the idea of government helping people, then have to find enough other special interests to fill up the remaining gaps.

    If my analysis is correct–and it’s built on a look at the history, not a partisan attack–the Democrats’ real problem is that the political left is out of ideas that fire the imagination, so all they have left is carping and, well, a cobbled together group of special interests that are increasingly dysfunctional in today’s world.

    Because let me tell ya: your average UAW or AFL-CIO worker doesn’t give two shits about gay rights, quite possibly owns a gun, and may very well think that abortion is murder. Blacks, despite their visceral loathing for Republicans, actually are the most socially conservative ethnic group in America–including white anglo saxon protestants. They love school choice, they tend to view gay rights with suspicion, they see churches as an integral part of politics, and they often are pro-life.

    The fissures are showing so badly within the party because the ideological basis for its various positions are badly aging and need updating. THat’s going to take ideas. It will also probably take having the party decide to write off some of the special interests that have helped it in decades past, and working on pealing away some of the current Republican constituency.

    Hard work, but do-able if you ask me.

  6. Dean Esmay,

    Re your comments on tax cuts, please refer to http://www.accuracy.com for wht I recall is a fairly good breakdown of the tax cut plan. The lower income filers w/ children see immediate refunds, however over about seven years, the highest income brackets will have their overal taxes reduced by about 50%. This is a very cusory eval and these numbers may have changed SOME during passage, but the final tally is still unbalanced in favor of the wealthy.

    And how dare any conservative feel they can presume to lecture anyone about the evils of special interests.

  7. Ok, Dean, a lot of black people and UAW workers lean conservative on some social issues. What’s your point? Why isn’t there a big exodus among them to the GOP? What reason is there to think that there will be such an exodus in the foreseeable future?

    It’s not about reflexive hatred of benefits to the rich, it’s about different priorities of what government should do. You can’t implement Clinton’s type of budget policies and government programs, if indeed you favor those (as most Americans did when he was pursuing them), while simultaneously cutting taxes by a trillion dollars every single year. It’s not irrational to have an argument about priorities.

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