Thursday, January 27, 2005


The Moose cautions that passion does not necessarily translate into power.

The Moose celebrates the fighting spirit of the Democratic Party. After November's demoralizing loss, the donkey has bounced back with a renewed spirit of opposition to the Bushies. The unity of the Democrats on social security is impressive.

But outrage alone is insufficient. As the Moose has pointed out previously, Democrats will have to eventually offer a reform alternative on a range of issues to become truly a Party that has a chance to regain power. And the donkeys will have to address their vulnerabilities on defense and values issues.

Democrats must also realize that this is a fairly conservative country. Self-identified conservatives far outnumber liberals. And over the past thirty years, liberalism is perceived, and has been caricatured by Republicans, as elitist and represented by pointy-headed academics and Hollywood starlets. Moreover, liberals have helped make the GOP case by its over reliance on the judiciary to advance its goals.

As is self-evident, the Moose values the blogosphere. But, despite all the recent hype, the internet and the blogosphere is not a mass phenomenon. At best, a few million people regularly visit political blogs on the right and the left. God bless them. And the internet has proven to be an effective fund raising tool. Yes, the blogs have occasionally broken through to the mainstream media and have broken stories. But most people don't spend the day focused on what the latest word is from the Corner or Daily Kos (and certainly not the Moose, alas). Appreciate the usefulness of the net, but don't over inflate its importance.

The Moose has also observed a certain cannibalistic tendency emerging on the left that is attempting to purge fellow Democrats who don't follow the party line. The latest example is the suggestion on some prominent lefty blogs to run a primary opponent against Senator Lieberman to punish him for his support for Rice's nomination and the war.

Here's some breaking news for the lefty Democrats - you should be adding to your numbers rather than decreasing them. Democrats must be about the politics of addition rather than subtraction. Democrats do not enjoy the luxury of driving centrists and even conservatives from their ranks.

Lefties may have their differences with Senator Lieberman, but he has loyally served the party as its vice presidential nominee and he is a deeply honorable and decent man. Don't succumb to the temptation to become just a mirror image of right wing Freepers. Left-wing cannibalism - an infantile disorder.

At the end of the day, if progressives are going to become successful, they must undertake a critical reassessment and reconnect with the heartland. The Moose highly recommends a close reading of Paul Starr's piece in yesterday's New York Times. Starr seriously addresses issues ranging from liberal over-reliance on the courts to special interest politics.

Starr writes,

"The Republicans, with their party in control of both elected branches - and looking to create a conservative majority on the Supreme Court that will stand for a generation - see the opportunity to overthrow policies and constitutional precedents reaching back to the New Deal.

"That prospect ought to concentrate the liberal mind. Social Security, progressive taxation, affordable health care, the constitutional basis for environmental and labor regulation, separation of church and state - these issues and more hang in the balance.

"Under these circumstances, liberal Democrats ought to ask themselves a big question: are they better off as the dominant force in an ideologically pure minority party, or as one of several influences in an ideologically varied party that can win at the polls? The latter, it seems clear, is the better choice."

It is fine for Democrats to take a path that makes them feel warm inside and enables them to vent their frustration at the Bushies. It is entirely another matter to become effective. When Democrats either nominate a Chairman or take a position they should ask themselves "WWRW" - What Would Rove Want. Far more than most D's, the Moose understands the cunning and deviousness of the adversary. Don't make things easier for them.

"If it feels good, do it" is not a winning slogan for an effective opposition.
-- Posted at 8:46 AM | Link to this post | Email this post