Monday, August 06, 2007

Retreat from Liberalism

Star Parker's latest article seems to be lamenting the fact that Democrats are still liberal (how liberal they are given the capitulation over the weekend might be open to debate, but that's the subject of another post). She notes that back in the 90s when the DLC was still somewhat respectable and Clinton was running against liberalism as much as he was Republicans.
Being labeled a liberal fifteen years ago was the kiss of political death. Today's Democratic presidential candidates seem to wear it like a badge of honor.
It's interesting where excessive partisanship has gotten us. Clinton was a middle of the road Democrat; it's not a stretch to suggest that both him and his wife were and are willing to jettison liberal principles at the drop of a hat. In some cases (such as on Free Trade or the value of Capitalism) they clearly believed in the moderate position, while on other issues (Healthcare) they seem to have just given up. But the truth is, neither of them was all that liberal.

That said, Republicans and Conservatives have spent some 15 years now describing them as liberal devils incarnate. I'm not sure what that accomplished. If Hillary Clinton is the epitome of liberalism, I'm a gecko. In fact I'm the Geico gekko.

Parker is lamenting that Clinton style politics, where you run against your own base, doesn't seem to be working. She is also frustrated that many of the Democrats seem to be advocating liberal programs, particularly when it comes to Healthcare Reform.

She reiterates her believe that history has proven that Liberalism doesn't work and that values voters (i.e. the Religious Right) needs to remember that "big government" is bad. It's even worse than, say, starting wars under false pretenses.

I'm reminded of a line from the West Wing, in which Toby is writing the state of the Union, and he's required to use the phrase "The Era of Big Government is Over." He goes in front of the President and makes this speech.
"I want to change the sentiment. We're running away from ourselves. And I know we can score points that way. I was a principle architect of that campaign strategy right along with you Josh. But we're here now. Tomorrow night we do an immense thing. We have to say what we feel, that government no matter what it's failures in the past and in times to come for that matter, government can be a place where people come together and where no one gets left behind. No one gets left behind. An instrument of good. I have no trouble understanding why the line tested well, Josh, but I don't think that means we should say it. I think that means we should change it."
Got this quote from Brent Bozell's Media Research Center, incidentally. One of ten examples of how the West Wing was liberally biased. Hold the presses.

Anyway I think we will see this article off and on pretty regularly for the next few years. Republicans and Conservatives thought they had pretty well settled this issue, and are going to be upset to find that Liberalism isn't going anywhere. That said, it is once again frusterating to note that the key "liberal" figures we will be defending for the next few years include Hillary Clinton, who's far more centrist than liberal.

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