Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Norman Vincent Moose

The Moose stresses the power of positive thinking.

Progressives need to cheer up. Yes, there is much about which to be downcast and glum. It is counter-intuitive to be both critical of the incumbent and optimistic about the future. The Bushies are redistributing wealth upwards and they have mismanaged a war that is costing the country lives and treasure. But, Democrats cannot respond just by throwing a constant fit of rage.

In almost every election, the American people elect the most optimistic candidate. Even in the depths of the depression, they voted for the sunny FDR. As conditions worsen at home and abroad, there will be a tendency on the left and even the right to offer a bleak, narrow view of America's future. Progressives should reject such a vision.

While the Moose has some populist sympathies, that approach tends to highlight the negative and offer dark conspiracies rather than bright alternatives. Joe Klein addresses this point in a fascinating piece in this weeks' Time magazine. He suggests that there are two primary political camps,

"There are, of course, plenty of different ways to look at problems, but I suspect what's really missing here are the two most important political products: a Party of Sanity, representing the pragmatic centrism of the business and professional elites, and a Party of Passion, representing populist anger about outsourcing, illegal immigration, social permissiveness and Bush's overseas activism...

"There is no such thing as a pure political product. The two existing political parties are amalgams of passion and sanity, traditional liberalism and conservatism. Those who win the presidency create harmonic majorities by plausibly balancing these strains. A pure populist has not been elected since Andrew Jackson. And since Franklin Roosevelt, all the elitists have taken pains to demonstrate their common-man credentials."

The "Man from Hope" was the last Democrat to effectively accomplish the harmonic convergence of optimism and populism, passion and sanity. While he blistered that Bush Administration for abandoning the middle class he also offered a unique progressive philosophy which blended the themes of opportunity, responsibility and community. And it was all marinated in all-American optimism.

From Klein's piece - "Being optimistic is a patriotic value," says Diane Feldman. "If you are down on the United States, you are not patriotic."

Yes, Democrats must be patriotic optimists.
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