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Stuck in the middle without you

The traditional political wisdom of modern Presidential campaigns follows the Nixon Plan from 1968: run to the right (left for Democrats) in the primaries, then back towards the middle for the general election. Primaries having become even more prevalent and influential since then, most candidates understand they must at least appease their party's base to win the nomination, but must also appeal to the more moderate "swing voters" and independents to be elected. In 1968, we should recall, Democrats were coming off one of their best-ever midterm sweeps, winning commanding majorities in both House and Senate. Yet, the Democratic Party was divided sharply between those who supported LBJ's Vietnam policy and those opposing the war altogether.

In 2008, it will be a Republican President's war, but the Democrats remain divided into two distinct camps: one wishes we could win in Iraq but believes we cannot, the other wishes we will lose. Nutroots guru Kos has gone so far as to threaten the moderate DLC, although they haven't blinked. Kimberly Strassel has more for the Wall Street Journal below the fold:


"They'll find their way back to the middle. And if they don't, they won't win." So says a blunt Harold Ford Jr., chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, of his party's current crop of presidential candidates. The question is just how many would-be Democratic presidents recognize the wisdom of his words.

* * * * *

Making it harder is that this newly energized left is directing inordinate firepower on the DLC itself, in a crazed, purist drive to purge any group that would exert a moderating influence on the Democratic Party. New Republic scribe Noam Scheiber let loose a few weeks back in a New York Times hit piece, calling the DLC "radioactive" and "quaint," gloating that its "fading influence was good news for the entire party," and arguing that it should just get lost. Markos Moulitsas, chief flogger-blogger on the Daily Kos, this week slammed the DLC as a group that wants to "blur distinctions with the GOP," and reveling that Democrats had won in 2006 because liberals like himself had "forced" Americans to pick sides.

The real target audience for these pronouncements is the Democratic presidential field, and the threat is clear: Touch the DLC, and you will be (to use a favorite, medieval Kos word) "punished." At least a few activists danced a victory lap, too, a few weeks back when every last Democratic candidate spurned the DLC's annual convention in Nashville, instead turning up at Mr. Moulitsas's YearlyKos event in Chicago.


Read the whole article at the link supplied. The far left wants to win, but not at the cost of ideological purity. Centrists are to be purged; there can be only one Party Line.

It is eerily reminiscent of the 1912 Republican Party, which controlled all three branches of government and had, comfortably, for some years. The Progressive wing, led by former President Theodore Roosevelt, split from the Party establishment enabling the election of Woodrow Wilson. The divide in the Democratic Party is not so stark as that of the Republicans of the last century, but neither is their grip on power so firm.


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Comments (9)

Harry Reid: Speak Slovenly... (Below threshold)
epador:

Harry Reid: Speak Slovenly and carry a big Schtick.
Nancy Pelosi: Bull Dyke Party

Dang, It shoulda been Bull ... (Below threshold)
epador:

Dang, It shoulda been Bull Mousse. Freudian Slip.

Well done Mr. Addison. As a... (Below threshold)

Well done Mr. Addison. As a "flaming rightwinger", this gives me cause for hope. I'd rather see my side take charge and delineate what the opposition is really all about, but I know that would be just too "mean" a thing to do, and Lord knows, the absolute worst thing one can be percieved as being, in public life today, is mean.

Hey, there's an idea, how about if someone with guts came along and told the truth, jagged edges and all ? It's so crazy, it just might work. I know, the reality is, "Darn the vanilla, half speed ahead...more or less".

I think the democratic cand... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

I think the democratic candidates cannot go back to the center this time. They are being held captive by Kos and MoveOn. They are in a precarious position. MoveOn is now even trying to move a little bit to the center but now they are being protested by the far left. Personally, I love it. The general election cycle will be a gift to the republican candidate. So many debates, so much on record, plus the visit to Kos convention was a mistake. And the best gift is Reid and Pelosi's lack of leadership. ww

At least we don't have Loya... (Below threshold)
madmatt:

At least we don't have Loyalty Oaths like the Kansas GOP and the Nazi's have!

So, tell me, how many Repub... (Below threshold)
Voice of Reason:

So, tell me, how many Republican office-holders have voted against continuing Bush's policies on the war?

A couple of voiced opposition to the war (e.g. Gordon Smith of Oregon), but when it's time to vote they vote for the President's policy.

And for that he's called a Republican in Name Only. Talk about wanting ideological purity!

And the real story isn't that some Democrats wish we would lose the war in Iraq, it's that most Republicans want the war to continue indefinitely, which precludes any sort of victory.

<a href="http://www.polling... (Below threshold)
PunditGuy:

About two-thirds of the country say they oppose the war. Which side has lost the middle?

I love the 1912 analogy -- ... (Below threshold)

I love the 1912 analogy -- but you're off on a couple key historical points. I'll take the opportunity to blather...

First, in 1912, the GOP did not have all branches. In fact, they lost congress in 1910 after years of rule -- following the fall of maybe the most powerful Congressional Speaker ever, Joe Cannon. The Democrats were a meek afterthought, esp. after Bryan and the populists lost three elections in a row.

There was disunity -- in fact, Cannon fell prior to the election due to a Progressive insurgency -- keeping in mind Progressivism at the time was a Western Republican thing, centered in Wisconsin and exemplified by Teddy Roosevelt.

Teddy's successor, Taft, campaigned on progressivism, but was deep in the pocket of traditional Republicans like Cannon. He supported a series of laws, specifically a tremendously unpopular tarrif, that led to a crash in popularity.

The progressive GOPers teamed up with the Dems, and brought down Cannon. In the disarray that followed, the Dems swept into power.

I still see a lot of parallels between 1910 and 2006, especially how a collapse of Congressional establishment and public dislike of a president is undervalued in race prognosticating, but I think the comparison ends there. You can't take 1912 into 2008.

For that you'd essentially need the first President Bush, or more appropriately Ronald Reagan to come out of retirement (or the Grave) to declare Bush a horrible leader, unworthy of his past support, and then run as an independent. You'd need a GOP establishment so bound by failed tradition as to nominate McCain or someone who's policies the public sees as the equivilent of renominating Bush.

In 1912, Wilson ran a great campaign, cherry picking Progressive causes to great effect while Taft and Roosevelt split the vote. I think even without Roosevelt, Wilson would have won. You only get Presidents like Taft when one part has been in power too long.

But Taft is no Bush. I think Bush has been a horrible president, but for entirely different reasons than Taft. Taft was an absentee president with little drive or conviction. I personally wish Bush had significantly less conviction and more of a concept of governing, but that's me. Regardless, as much as I shouted to the rooftops last year that 2006 and 1910 were the same, I really don't see 1912 in 2008.

Thanks for letting me spout.

DLC=RNC... (Below threshold)
zoltan:

DLC=RNC




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