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Ex-Senators Diagnose Their Parties

Jon Danforth and Bill Bradley have bookend editorials in todays The New York Times where they identify their choice for the most important issue facing their respective parties.

Danforth says of Republicans, "Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians"

Bradley says of Democrats, "Democrats choose this approach, I believe, because we are still hypnotized by Jack Kennedy, and the promise of a charismatic leader who can change America by the strength and style of his personality"

Both are worth a read.


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Comments (19)

Well, it would appear the R... (Below threshold)

Well, it would appear the Repubs have co-opted the Dems' dream: WE have the charismatic leader who is transforming America by the strength and style of his personality!!!

So, what does that leave the Dems? John F. Kerry? Teddy F. Kennedy? Al F. Sharpton?

Interesting, but and also h... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Interesting, but and also here, most who are Christians reach or soon will a point of disgust with most that the DNC promotes and devotes energy to perpetuate. I know that was my experience, along with the peer disappointments of encountering so many who really, really, really disliked if not 'hated' my religious values and beliefs. Not like it's a happy community of fun-filled and tolerant folks, those Democrats.

So, I mean, err on the side of caution, vote as a Republican if you have to chose (and most do inorder to move along in politics and as a voter for those politics). There are a few remaining Democrats that I find good administrators but I now no longer can rely on their very party affiliation to make any sense of why they remain with whom and why, and so no longer find them, ultimately at the voting booth, reliable for to whom to vote.

It's not that the Republican Party has "transformed...into the political arm of conservative Christians" so much as, to the contrary, Christians have to live by what they profess (most at least do try) and you can't make any meeting any longer between Christian values and beliefs and what the DNC is and what Democrats, today, bespeak of and promote. I mean, hearing Dean and Clinton and such rely on Holy Scripture to sell their wares is despicable to my view and it isn't like they aren't promoting the Party as Religion when they do (which is anathema to Christianity and most among Judaism, too, among other religious).

The DNC practices cultism. It's cultism to suggest that a politician and a political party supplant and even represent, much worse function as, religious experience, but that's what the DNC has at it's core and I've even recently received very alarmig emails from some fellow just so aligned with all things "Leftist", including the expected, at this point, disdain, if not revulsion, about Christians and Christianity (but, boy, does he love Marx and Kant and...).

In my own experience, the DNC has become so offensive as to drive away many who have religious dedications and beliefs, partiuclarly us Christians. And we went to or returned to, as was my experience, the Republican Party inorder to continue peer-to-peer relationships and to vote more closely to our conscience.

All politics IS personal.

Okay, up front I admit I am... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Okay, up front I admit I am a Christian.

I am not sure that I totally agree with this:

"I am and have always been pro-life. But the only explanation for legislators comparing cells in a petri dish to babies in the womb is the extension of religious doctrine into statutory law."

Probably because I have had exposure to several atheist/agnostic women online who are pro life, and would argue that there is life there. I sort of assume that his reference here is possibly to stem cell research though, and it isn't the cells actually in the petry dish, but in how those cells are gotten, that is the issue.

But generally my rule of thumb in regards to what laws I like to see legislated is basically, if I can advocate for or against it without appealing to God or the Bible, then it is a law worth arguing for, and having inacted (while often the abortion issue is painted as a religious issue, I can and almost argue against abortion without appealing to either God or the Bible), if I can't argue in favor of the law without appealing to God or the Bible, then it is a law worth ditching or not enacting (Sunday liquer laws are an example that quickly come to mind, these laws are extremely common in the south, and prevent the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sundays).

Now I am off to read the other piece.

Okay, while I think he is r... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Okay, while I think he is right that having a good structure in place makes it easier to run candidates, I think he has over evaluated that structure.

I think a good bit of the problem with the DNC is that it lacks any new ideas, they just seem determined to attack what they don't agree with, and repackage the same stuff they have always said.

Also

"The trouble is that every four years the party splits and rallies around several different individuals at once."

This is probably true, but I think part of that problem is that the DNC isn't really a big tent, but more like a collection of little tents all sharing the same field. This lack of ability to tolerate the differences in the long run hurts the party, because it either ostracizes or makes feel unwelcome any voice that dissents from the main party line.

Both parties have a tendancy to eat their moderates in the primaries for president, but overall, the GOP seems to have mastered the big tent philosophy while the DNC is still scrambling around trying to figure out how to make it work.

Somewhere the Republican pa... (Below threshold)
McCain:

Somewhere the Republican party steered away from their conservative roots. It is hard to put a finger on it, but this appears no longer to be the party of Goldwater, Reagan, and Gingrich. Barry Goldwater, the father of modern conservatism said the following:

"However, on religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than
Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God's name on one's behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in 'A,' 'B,' 'C,' and 'D.'
Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every
religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their
moral convictions to all Americans in the name of 'conservatism.' "

"It is hard to put a finger... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

"It is hard to put a finger on it, but this appears no longer to be the party of Goldwater, Reagan, and Gingrich."

I would agree, but I don't think it has anything to do with Christians in the party.

The things that bother me, seem more along the lines of trying to please the liberals than anything to do with religion.

Take the medicare drug bill, which I think was a pretty dumb bill. That was over reaching, and didn't have anything to do with God or the Bible.

It is the zealots that get ... (Below threshold)
Justin B:

It is the zealots that get out and work the streets and sign up voters and work the phone banks and raise the funds, etc. It just happens that when confronted with which group of zealots I share the same idological philosophy on smaller government with, it is the nutjob over-the-top far right.

But the far right is stretching by saying things like the Schindler's lawyer has said that "There will be hell to pay if you let Terri die." No, quite the contrary, there will be hell to pay if we become a theocracy. I don't want Falwell running the country or having any influence. When these a-holes on the far right tell me that Teletubbies are gay and that God is allowing us to be attacked because we allow abortions as an explaination for 9-11, I want to puke. I have no choice but to vote Republican since the Libertarians just want legal pot and I actually have a job which makes the Democratic ideas of tax, tax, tax unappealing.

If God is protecting us it is because we have this "Bill of Rights" and the first one says Government has no role in religion. Religion can lobby government and that is fine, but this last election has convinced the far right that they have more power and influence than they do and more than is good for the long term of this country. We need debate and discussion and all religion or the hatred of religion does is serve to polarize things and entrench the sides.

The people who were the dri... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

The people who were the driving force of the 60's era Dems were idealistic, fresh and forward thinking. They were also flat-out wrong with that socialist hippie crap, but at least they were upbeat.

Today's Dems still have the same old stale ideas with none of the optimism. Combined with the loudmouth fringe Michael Mooreites and you have a bunch of sad-sack losers who have no hope of gaining national election.

However, while the Dems can't win on their own merits, the Repubs could certainly lose by letting the religious extremists have too much influence in the party and in government.

I think that Jeff H. summed... (Below threshold)
Mike:

I think that Jeff H. summed things up pretty well. Whether you like Bush or not, he has a plan and a vision for America and the world, and he has worked very hard to turn his plan into reality. Niether Bush nor Reagan had the classic "Hollywood leading man" persona that liberals have tried to fictionalize in "The West Wing" with Martin Sheen, but they were both hard workers who believed that they were doing the right thing. And because of that, Bush will be a successful president, just like Reagan.

The Democrats suffer from two problems: nostalgia and pandering. They can't get past Kennedy and FDR. And even the "Camelot" of JFK is mostly myth. An objective study of Kennedy's White House years reveals a lot of missed opportunities and a lackluster performance on policy issues, save for the Cuban missle crisis.

Bill Clinton was a brilliant politician and probably a better mythical "Kennedy" than JFK himself. He was the perfect embodiment of style, poise, and likability when stumping on the campaign trail. But his presidency was mediocre at best because he governed from week to week and developed his policies around focus groups and opinion polls. He didn't have the ability to articulate a broad vision that would redefine life in America for decades. When policies (like national health care) tanked in the polls, Clinton retreated.

Democrats also actively pandered to a variety of leftist political and social causes in the 1970's. Liberals argue that Republicans have been "taken over" by the "religious right," but I would beg to differ. Christians, particularly in the South, left the Democratic party when they began to champion causes that were at odds with Southern religious traditions. It is valid to say that the Republicans welcomed these voters into their party, but I think an examination of party platforms from the 1960's through 2000 would show much more of an ideological shift in the Democrat party than in the Republican party, even with the addition of conservative Christians to the Republican voting block. In other words, I believe that the Democrats were transformed much more by liberal social causes than the Republicans were by Christian beliefs.

I think the solution for Democrats is to stop looking for a White Knight to rescue the party, and start developing policies that appeal to a majority of Americans.

Danforth makes some good po... (Below threshold)
Rod Stanton:

Danforth makes some good points, but in total is off a little. Bradley is really a moron who is as dumb as he looked against Gore 5 years ago. Or maybe he has been living in an LSD dream world the last 26 years.

"But the far right is stret... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

"But the far right is stretching by saying things like the Schindler's lawyer has said that "There will be hell to pay if you let Terri die.""

For the record-Schindler's lawyer wasn't saying this stuff, it was Randall Terry. Which brings us to the point that the far religious right fringe that Randall Terry is part of is not that big.

What worries me about many of these comments is the down right hostility towards Christians. I get that enough from the DNC, I don't need it from my own party. I do not want a theocracy, but I also don't like being told that my moral beliefs are unwelcome either. Frankly, everyone makes decisions based on their moral viewpoint, just because mine is based in a moral absolute that involves a moral law giver, and yours is based on whatever you feel it should be, that doesn't mean yours is better than mine or that mine has no place in politics. The facts are that all laws are based on some moral component, the only question is whose morals it is based on.

If you want to marginalize the fringe religious right, please be my guest, but please don't take a note from the DNC and start trashing religious people, because they actually believe in some higher power.

Jack Kennedy was charismati... (Below threshold)
Pat:

Jack Kennedy was charismatic, but I do not remember him changing America "by the strength and style of his personality". I don't recall him changing America at all.

Jackie definitely had an impact. She had personal style, and the imagination to create the "Camelot" myth.

I think this response to th... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I think this response to the Danforth piece by Hugh Hewitt is right on the money.

Those of you who think the religious are so awful should probably go read it.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/419dpncw.asp

Religious people aren't awf... (Below threshold)
McCain:

Religious people aren't awful. I take enough grief for being a Catholic from other Christian faiths. Imagine the audacity to place Christ on the cross and show images of the apostles! And that is really the point -- attempting to impose your own religious standards into civil society just won't work. Religions don't agree on them, and even within Christian traditions, there is disagreement on morals.

There are a higher set of standards appealing to the universal rights of man that are inherrent in our constitution and public life. Those are the standards that need to be defended by our politicians, many of which are shared by our religious faiths.

Even so, there are legitimate moral arguments to be found on both sides of the Schiavo case, both within religious traditions and the universal rights of man. It is a self-conflicting case.

Les Norman: the biggest pr... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Les Norman: the biggest problem from that flowery hippie generation is that they later became, if not were at that time (however, youth could excuse some of what they opined and did), Marxists. Each and every single hippie-grown-to-fifty-or-more I know is a dedicated "revolutionary" within a Marxist, Communist sense. They may not parade around with a red book, or books, but they are today the activists Democrats and communism as pure socialism is identical to their creed, demands even.

They were cute and somewhat interesting when they were twenty, at thirty they made great music on tour and published fun magazines, at forty they made well designed websites (up to a point) and now at fifty they are all intent on the Party Politic of Democrats. And, they really, really hate the rest of us.

Labelling them 'hippies' is no longer accurate because that misleads the rest of us into thinking that the worst we can anticipate are patchouli in overdose applications and grass being smoked on the lawn, maybe our avocados taken at will from the trees, a few VW buses in restoration, things of that nature, co-ops in Berkeley...

But that's not the end of it. It's not even where most are today. The hippie thing was short lived and today's permutation of "counter culture" is, in my experience, intolerant, aggressive and militant. And they really, really want communism in the U.S. as form of government.

McCain: if you're taking g... (Below threshold)
-S-:

McCain: if you're taking grief from other Christians, you may have a problem.

You can't rely on "being a Catholic" as some sort of labelling. It's a religious experience and the religious experience is Christianity.

The body of Christ, you know, the body of Christ.

John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, T... (Below threshold)
-S-:

John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Teddy Kennedy, Geraldine Ferraro...and more, these are people who ALSO rely on Catholicism as label. They attract heat from Christians not because they are not Catholics, but that they are not Christians in their deeds, what they promote, how they communicate and what they do.

A lot of people say they're Lutheran, Baptist, whatever, but it means little when a person engages in, promotes, etc., that which runs counter to Christianity. Christians can discern the difference, is my point.

Excellent S, glad to hear t... (Below threshold)
McCain:

Excellent S, glad to hear that imposing my very Catholic Christian morality against the death penalty is receptive to the civic ear. Nice to hear the Catholics can finally speak for Christian morals.

Justin B. in his "explainat... (Below threshold)

Justin B. in his "explaination" (sic) of his position says "We need debate and discussion and all religion or the hatred of religion does is serve to polarize things and entrench the sides." I think he is saying that we need to not be so polarized by our feelings about religion. Instead we need to be more open to debate. That in itself makes sense, but I find its impact is a bit diluted when he expresses that deep thought just after calling the right wing folks, "a-holes".




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