Saturday, August 20, 2005

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Signing Off

I want to close with a question that has been percolating between my ears for a while now. People who followed politics in 30 and 40 years ago could have identified such a thing as a "Humphrey Democrat," a "Jackson Democrat," even a "McGovern Democrat." None of these men ever got elected President -- only Humphrey came close -- but all of them had substantial accomplishments in their political careers, accomplishments that could not have been theirs if positioning themselves for a run at the White House had absorbed their whole attention.

What is a Kerry Democrat? For that matter, what is a Gore Democrat, or an Edwards Democrat? Immediate family members of the gentlemen in question surely count, as must a number of their paid staff and -- technically -- Democrats who by coincidence share the last name of Kerry, Gore or Edwards. But that's about it.

There may not be any political implications flowing from this. It may just be that Presidential politics has changed; the people who get nominated for President now are those who establish a foothold through their relation to someone else, their election to a safe seat in the Senate, or their campaigning skills, and then wait around for their moment to strike. It just occurs to me when reading thought pieces about what position Democrats should take on Iraq, or health care, or taxes that parties don't adopt positions on important issues until people do. Whether ideas go anywhere depends on whether their advocates are smart and capable, not on whether their party's strategic direction is right where it should be. There is no shortage of chiefs in the Democratic Party, or Indians either. I just don't see any leaders.

That's all for me. Dan has returned from his vacation: rested, refreshed and ready to resume his rightful place as a titan of the blogosphere. My thanks to him for loaning me this fine platform, and to his readers for their attention and many thoughtful comments.

posted by Joseph Britt on 08.20.05 at 12:07 PM



So what would a Bush Republican be? Maybe it is a republican someone who consistently sounds one way and consistently acts another.

I should also note that you could probably characterize a Clinton Democrat pretty easily. That whole DLC thing sums it up.

posted by: Michael Carroll on 08.20.05 at 12:07 PM [permalink]

This point is well taken but one of the reasons people like Humphrey or Jackson don't get to be President is that they achieve things, take stands, make policy, etc., and in the process alienate either part of the electorate or of their own party. Nor is this a new phenomenon in American politics. Think about a major party nominating a Presidential candidate whose political background consisted of serving in the state legislature of a lightly populated, peripheral state, had one term as a back-bencher Congressional Representative, and failed in 2 senatorial elections. When much better known candidates fail because they are opposed by powerful enemies within their party, this true dark horse gets the nomination. This is Abraham Lincoln.

posted by: Roger Albin on 08.20.05 at 12:07 PM [permalink]

Instead of a "Kerry-democrat" I think the last election gave rise to the "anybody but Bush democrat."

posted by: Terri on 08.20.05 at 12:07 PM [permalink]

A Bush Radical being a person who fails at everything he attempts in his life, needing his daddy's friends to bail him out? And who then goes on to perfect his skills in Windows Solitare?


posted by: Cranky Observer on 08.20.05 at 12:07 PM [permalink]

A "Gore Democrat" ought to have been descriptive. Sort of "neo-liberal" (doess anyone use that term anymore), Clinton moderate on defense, very outspoken on the environment.

But then, there was the Gore presidential campaign, where Gore became a Shrum Democrat. That has been followed by the Gore post-campaign, where Gore seems to have transmuted himself into a daily Kos Deemocrat.

Kerry was the anti-Bush. For me, that was enough, but that's no way to run a campaign that will get 51% of the vote.

The question is, will be people willingly identify themselves as Bush Republicans years down the road? Somehow, I don't see the free-spending deficit loving trash-talking being all that attractive as a positive label in 2025.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 08.20.05 at 12:07 PM [permalink]

As the advent of the Bush Republican is still a source of some pain to me even as the definition of one has evolved, I may not be the best person to answer that question. At any rate it is a question for Republicans; I was only asking one of Democrats. Even I need to place some limit on the length of posts and the number of things they can cover.

posted by: Zathras on 08.20.05 at 12:07 PM [permalink]

The terms you identify (Humphrey D, Jackson D, etc.) are shorthand for portions of the party that essentially differed from the rest of the party on particular issues. With Humphrey, it was civil rights. With Jackson, national defense. So the better question for Republicans is not what is a Bush Republican (after all, he became President), but what is a Delay Republican or a McCain Republican? For the Rs, these labels and issues are going to become more important as we approach the '06 elections and certainly in '08.

posted by: Steven on 08.20.05 at 12:07 PM [permalink]

There's no such thing as a Kerry Democrat or a Gore Democrat, but there is such a thing as a Dean Democrat, and many in the party do identify themselves in that way. For a politician to be the leader of a sub-movement, they have to differ from the party "average" in some significant way. Kerry and Gore are too average. Dean is not.

posted by: Josh Yelon on 08.20.05 at 12:07 PM [permalink]

"The question is, will be people willingly identify themselves as Bush Republicans years down the road? Somehow, I don't see the free-spending deficit loving trash-talking being all that attractive as a positive label in 2025."

posted by: Appalled Moderate

Probably an attractive position just before that, given a two-term Democratic administration from '08 onward. That'd be long enough for people to forget about how badly Bush II has been. And to get bored/faux outraged with a boring fix-it-up president.

posted by: Barry on 08.20.05 at 12:07 PM [permalink]

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