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3/01/2005

Al From and the DLC piss me off

I don't know if there's any purpose in one more rant about the Democratic Leadership Council and their "New Democrat" ideology. However, as part of the New MediaTM blogger revolution, the inevitable victory of which will commence the reign of bloggers as political powerbrokers and all-purpose rulers of the internet, it is my solemn duty to offer my $0.02.

Plus, it is important to understand why the DLC's advice to the Democratic party is not worth heeding.

The first step of Al From's blueprint for future Democratic electoral success is: "Expand the map."

If Democrats are going to be born again as a majority party, we have to speak to the whole country again. The South, which helped elect every Democratic president in history, hasn't given us a single electoral vote in the 21st century ...

Of America's 3,114 counties, Bush won 2,532 -- or 81.1 percent -- covering 78 percent of our country's land mass ... When Democrats do not compete on three-quarters of American soil, we have no margin for error in the presidential elections -- and we're almost sure to be a permanent minority in Congress.


Reading this, I kept waiting for From to say: "Of course, elections are decided by who gets the most votes, not the most square miles. But the reason this is still relevant is ..."

But he never explains why we should care how much soil the Republicans control. The GOP's advantage in acreage is due solely to the fact that the red states happen to be large in physical size. But obviously their populations are not proportionally large.

But that's a relatively minor point. More troubling is From & co.'s strategy for achieving parity with the GOP. First and foremost, we must close the "security gap":

we need to bridge the trust gap on national security by spelling out our own offense against terrorism and clearly rejecting our anti-war wing, so that Republicans can no longer portray us as the anti-war party in the war on terrorism. We must leave no doubt that Michael Moore neither represents nor defines our party.

Make it absolutely clear that we side ... America in the war against terrorism ... Michael Moore and his blame-America-first crowd do not define us on patriotism and national security.


First of all, note that From, in exactly the same manner as the most despicable of right-wingers, implies that anyone who opposes the Bush war machine is "against America" and "with the terrorists". I expect this from the GOP, but someone who calls himself a Democrat and uses this type of rhetoric should be ashamed.

Moreover, it's a bad strategy. Terrorism is the GOP's issue, and I think it is best to let them have it and try to win elections on economic issues. The only way the Dems could negate the GOP's advantage here is to become just as bloodthirsty and war-happy as they are, and that is not a Democratic party that I, for one, could vote for, and I suspect there are many who feel the same.

According to From, we also have to close the "culture gap":

The No. 1 issue on voters' minds on Election Day was something that we don't discuss in polite company in the blue states: moral values. The heartland -- that great bastion of fiscal conservatism at home and restraint abroad -- had good reasons to doubt Bush's values, but doubted ours instead. Moral values aren't simply the social issues Republicans cynically exploited, such as same-sex marriage and abortion.


People tell me that the "moral values" explanation for Kerry's loss has been debunked; I don't know. But I do know that those who vote based on their "moral values" are almost exclusively concerned with homosexuality and abortion. From should know that "moral values" is code for these issues. The problem here is the same as with terrorism: the Republicans own the gay-haters and the anti-choicers. We are never going to win their votes, and even if we could, we wouldn't want to do what it would take to get them. You can't out-hate the GOP.

Which is really what it comes down to. Even if the strategy advocated by From and the other blowhard corporate whores at the DLC were a road to electoral victory for the Democrats, implementing their plan would require changing the face of the Democratic party in a manner that I, along with most of the Democratic base, would find abhorrent.

The kind of Democratic party that the DLC wants is clear; they would like to see a party that is enthusiastic for war and willing to compromise on individual freedom. This, they think, is the magic secret to electoral success.

I've got a better idea. Forget about terrorism, don't for a second even think about getting in bed with anti-gay and anti-choice elements, and start advocating economic policies that favor the lower and middle classes instead of corporate interests. I really believe it's that simple. A clear--and, crucially, credible--platform of economic populism would easily pull away enough rural voters to give the Democrats the White House.

You will never get the DLC to go along with this agenda, but it has the advantage of being both likely to succeed and morally correct.

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