hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Thursday, November 04, 2004
comment on Winds of Change

I want to say something but I'm not sure what exactly;) I guess the first thing is Michael Tomasky wrote an article in the last go-round, December 2002, which has some insightful passages:

Because it has no actual power. . .and for the same psychological reasons that the communists scorned the socialists more than they did the fascists, the American left -- the Nader left, if you prefer -- perceives its greatest enemy to be liberalism. . .

[Republicans] know exactly what they're fighting for. The Democrats do not. However the various constituencies within the Republican Party might differ, they are unified around a central idea, which can be expressed in both positive and negative language: that they are the conservators of liberty and morality, and that liberals are sending the country to hell in overdrive. Whatever Republicans do or don't believe, they believe in those two hypotheses. This unity gives them their passion.

Democrats have no such unity. . .it's no accident that when they had an ideological unity, Democrats also were much tougher partisans, with obstreperous shit-kickers such as Johnson and Hubert Humphrey and lesser-known though important figures, among them Adolf A. Berle, whose classic book, The Modern Corporation and Private Property, today's Democrats would do well to seek out.

You might also want to read the New America Foundation's book "The Real State of the Union". Matthew Yglesias's wry comment on them is that "The New America Foundation takes positions to the left of the current Democratic party and then for marketing purposes calls it the Radical Center" Also Matt Miller's book "The Two Percent Solution".

My outdated "Come the revolution, Comrade. . ." list is here. Shamefully light on military/national security issues, but then I'm not a pro. Heather Hurlburt's Washington Monthly article is unfortunately, 100% true and a serious and fair condemnation of some top Democratic party politician's approach to national security issues. The politicians I trust most on national security issues are Wes Clark, Gary Hart and Al Gore (and in Israel, Barak & Rabin). That makes me a dove, I guess. And as my admiration for Barak & Rabin shows, I'm not sure what's so wrong with being a Trans-National Progressive. OTOH, I think the Nuclear Freeze was a silly-ass idea (as is Missile Defense), and Reagan's spending large amounts of money on conventional weapons was a good idea (though he should have paid for it).

But I feel a bit disingenuos discussing policy here. The people on this board seem to be people who are not happy with the GOP on social issues, and either think the Democratic party must shift to the right on economic issues, military/national security issues, or both. That's not really me. And one of the main ideas here is the vital importance of "purging" or "repudiating" certain "Democratic vermin", as it were: Kos, Atrios, Dean, Michael Moore, Democratic Underground, Indymedia, and Al-Gora. Again, that's not me. I don't agree with Kos or Atrios all the time, but I think they are basically good guys. I never got around to seeing F/911, but I did see "Bowling for Columbine". There was a lot of nonsense, but also a lot of moving, powerful (and funny) stuff that was well worth seeing. I never read DU or Indymedia, but a lot of marginalized people say outrageous things to get attention or blow off steam (read the Yahoo message boards some time). Who cares? A great man once said "When someone endorses me, I am not endorsing their agenda. They are endorsing mine." I agree with that a 100%.

Two questions for the people here. 1) Here are some names: Edwards, Kerry, Clark, Gephardt, Bob Graham, Lieberman, Gary Hart. Versus Bush, which of these, if any, would you have voted for? Why or why not? What if the GOP nominee was McCain, Guiliani, Frist or Kasich? 2) What does "purging the crazies" *mean*, in practice? A refusal to take money? A formal statement "Michael Moore is an unpatriotic . . .er, fatty, and I hate his guts". Some sort of triangulation: "There are some in my party who don't believe we must win the War on Terror. Well, I disagree. . ."?

A last small point: demographic/tribal factors seem to me to be important as well. "Wanted: Straight White Men (And The Women Who Love Them)". If the Democrats are to win, they need to increase their share of the white vote, and in particular (straight) white men. I would say that either the parties get close to parity in the white vote, and the Democrat's advantage in the minority vote makes them the majority party, or the Republicans increase their percentage of the white vote, and they become the majority party, and our politics becomes the politics of the south writ large on a national scale.

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