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Blunder on the left

By Bruce Walker
web posted January 5, 2004

Incoherent rage among Democrat diehards threatens the very existence of their party. Howard Dean has made a clear choice to pull his party as far to the Left as possible. The danger to Democrats of him succeeding is much greater than losing a George McGovern style landslide.

America is the only nation in the world which emphatically rejects Leftism. Democrats have survived and thrived in American politics by conspicuously blurring the Leftism of their party and by purging the sort of pure Leftism that Dean espouses. Now many smart Democrat politicians are saying that their party is too far to the Left.

Zell Miller has been marginalized within his party. Is this because is a token Democrat? Hardly. Zell campaigned hard to reelect Senator Max Cleland and Governor Roy Barnes in 2002. He supported Bill Clinton and Al Gore in the last three presidential elections.

Is Zell just too conservative? The American Conservative Union rates members of Congress, and Senator Miller received only a 47 per cent conservative voting record in 2002. Miller is a genuine moderate whose voting record is to the left of almost every Republican in the Senate.

Zell has announced that he will vote for President Bush next year. Pointedly, Senator Miller has not said that he would vote for President Bush if Howard Dean is nominated. Miller will vote for Bush even if John Edwards, a fellow senator from neighboring North Carolinian, tops the Democrat ticket and if Bob Graham, a fellow senator from neighboring Florida, is at the bottom of the Democrat ticket.

John Breaux will not run for reelection, but he has chosen not to resign (which would have allowed Democrat Governor Kathleen Blanco to appoint someone to take his place, and which would have given Democrats a much better chance of holding that senate seat.) Breaux has also said that Howard Dean will be a disaster for Democrats in the South.

Like Miller, Breaux has been a loyal Democrat. Had Breaux not campaigned hard in 2002 and 2003, Democrats would have lost a senate seat and would not have gained a governorship. Breaux campaigned for Clinton and for Gore. The senior Senator from Louisiana has a moderately liberal voting record. And yet he may well end up not endorsing the Democrat nominee; he may even vote for Bush.

Ed Koch was a very liberal congressman from New York and was a popular mayor of New York City. Koch campaigned for Clinton and Gore; he also campaigned for Hillary in 2000. Yet Ed Koch has announced that he will vote for President Bush.

What does that mean? It means that if Joe Lieberman, a pleasant and polite man, a liberal Jewish Democrat from the Northeast, like Koch, heads the Democrat ticket and if Hillary Clinton, who Koch supported just three years ago, is the vice presidential candidate, then Koch will vote for President Bush.

These are startling political signals and more may follow. Leftists within the Democrat Party appear not to have really grasped the significance. Will Ed Koch be able to swing New York to President Bush? Only if there is already a Bush landslide. Could Miller have swung Georgia to the Democrat column or Breaux swung Louisiana to the Democrat column in 2004? Only if the Democrat nominee was going to win anyway.

What happens if prominent members of your own party disagree with you?
What happens if prominent members of your own party disagree with you?

But how can Dean or any other Democrat call President Bush an extremist when moderates and liberals within the Democrat Party are supporting Bush? Democrats simply cannot credibly say that Koch, Breaux or Miller are closet Republicans with ultraconservative positions. The Democrat nominee, even if it is Joe Lieberman or Wesley Clark, will have to concede that the Democrat Party is unapologetically Leftist.

America is unapologetically conservative. The last three Battleground Polls show that sixty percent of Americans call themselves conservatives, while only about half that number call themselves liberals. Bill Clinton never ran as a liberal, but as a moderate or a pragmatist. Even so, he never got a majority of the popular vote.

Democrats have allowed hatred to overwhelm good political instincts. Nominating Dean, most understand, will lead to a nuclear meltdown. His stupid comments and his surreal comments about Hussein and Osama bin Laden are dynamite.

Derailing Dean will create anger and infighting. Most pundits are focusing on whether Dean can be stopped now, and whether Democrats can make up behind a Gephardt, Lieberman, Clark or Edwards if Dean is defeated. But that is not the big story.

The big story is that Zell Miller and Ed Koch have already passed judgment on the Democrat Party. Whether Dean supporters prevail or Clinton supporters win does not matter. Raw, red Leftism has captured the soul of the Democrat Party, and now anyone who seeks position within the party must act like a malevolent lunatic (i.e. a Leftist.)

This is not about Howard Dean. It is about a party that did not bounce off congressional committees people like Cynthia McKinney and Barbara Lee when those two congresswomen make surreally evil statements. It is about a party which haggles over defense appropriations while our brave men are fighting to deliver us from evil. It is about a party that either has lost its soul or has unmasked its true nature.

Leftism wins only in small, odd polities - San Francisco, Vermont, Manhattan - when Leftists try to create a Thunder on the Left, as the bookend of the Goldwater movement of 1964, they will create instead a massive Blunder on the Left. The cost to Democrats will be staggering.

Bruce Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.

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