Kevin Drum on “Rightish” Democrats

Kevin Drum hits the nail on the head, as usual, with his assesment of the media’s newest Democratic obsession: the supposed infusion of Conservatives in the Democratic Party in this last Mid-Term election:


There were some socially rightish candidates who won on Tuesday, but their numbers were pretty small and it’s unlikely that Democrats are going to focus much on social issues anyway in the upcoming congressional session. Instead, they’re going to focus mostly on the Iraq war and on economic issues, where there’s a considerable amount of common ground among all Democrats, new and old.

Social issues are rarely the perview of Democratic values in the first place. If anything, Democrats and Liberals tend to view equal rights for minorities and other trod-upon demographic groups as more of a matter of course in a free society than the clarion call of our time. They are things worth striving for, but they are not the life-and-death, Heaven-and-Hell struggles which the Christian Conservative/Republican political machines insist on making abortion or anti-homosexual laws.

Or perhaps more correctly, social issues do not incite the same “wedge-issue” hostilities on the Left that Republican political strategists look for in campaign issues on the Right. In fact, there is significant evidence to support the notion that the American Middle’s Republicanism is generally proportional to their feelings of selfishness and intolerance – and often motivated by external fears such as terrorism.

On another level, Mr. Drum once again hits the mark:

The Washington Monthly

There’s a lot of talk about “interest groups” all demanding their due now that the election is over, but I doubt very much that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are going to allow them to dominate the agenda.

Here again is a significant difference between the parties and between the political poles: what about the Republican machine is not driven by fear and greed is almost entirely driven by money. The vast threat of the Republican Party in every election is their ability to swamp most any other competitor’s campaign in a deluge of free-flowing cash. And indeed at their core, the Neo-Con agenda is moved by large trusts of the extremely wealthy who have either carefully and laboriously nurtured the Republican Party since the New Deal to be it’s undoing, or in the case of the social conservatives, have been building political credibility in it’s churches whilst licking it’s wounds since the 60’s social upheaval.

With the overwhelming victory of the Republican Revolution in ’94 and the next ten years of consistent victory came an equally overwhelming demand for the dividends that those interested parties expected. Every single benefactor knew without question that the moment had arrived and would all-too-quickly be gone. Perhaps each party knew that the Republicans had taken out many contradictory loans and made many incompatible promises, and just wanted to make sure that their interests were taken care of first. Either way, what they ended up with was a literal orgy of payback, with no end in sight and no thought to governance.

Not that everyone got what they wanted. Indeed, as the fantastic book Tempting Faith points out, the payback was often and largely symbolic. But the point is: there was no time or consideration for what would make things work right, only what seemed the best position to take to appear credible to those who’d paid the Republican’s way.

If some in your base have blamed 911 on gays and pagans, a normal administration would distance itself from those people. This is particularly true when your chief political advisor refers to them as “the nuts,” anyway. You would not institute a “Faith-Based Initiative,” from within the White House and then wonder why everyone is mad. When a paranoiac like Kim Jong Il is at the bargaining table and trying not to beg for the food he so disparately needs, a normal administration would make sure that the stability-giving food is given over to keep that portion of the world at peace. They would not lump that dictator into an “Axis of Evil,” a move which can only be considered hostile and only be met with hostility.

So, what I’m getting at here is that, while I don’t think the Democrats are without political challenges in the next two years, the pundit’s reliance on the Republican political model to explain the Democrats is entirely lacking in relevance.

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By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.