The Democrat’s Uphill Battle
The Democrat’s Uphill Battle: George Will weighs in on the myriad of problems that the Democratic party has right now…
“The contours of the political landscape are becoming increasingly inhospitable to Democrats. This is partly because of what Democrats are, partly because of what they have done to themselves with campaign finance reform, partly because demographic changes are weakening one of their signature issues and partly because of a conflict between their ideology and fiscal facts.
…(The Democrats) seem reactive, a party of protest, more capable of saying what they do not like — George W. Bush, his judicial nominees, tax cuts and other works — than what they like. Hence, Democrats are perceived as the servants of grievance groups. One consequence of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms will be an exacerbation of that perception.
…Republicans have a large advantage in raising “hard” dollars, which are for particular candidates and are covered by annual limits. Democrats, deprived of soft money, will be forced to rely on paid issue advocacy by their “groups” — environmentalists, gun control advocates, the pro-abortion lobby. Dependence on the groups will cost the party control of its message and pull the party to the left, away from swing voters.
…(Mitch) Daniels discerns a paradox that will increasingly bedevil Democrats. One reason there are two parties is to accommodate two broadly different valuations of freedom and equality: Republicans tend to favor the former, Democrats the latter. But, says Daniels, Democrats have a stake in substantial income inequality.
This is because Democrats favor a more ambitious, high-spending federal government. Almost half of the government’s revenue comes from the personal income tax, and, in 2000, 37.4 percent of income taxes were paid by the wealthiest 1 percent of income earners.
The liberals’ conundrum is that their aspirations for omniprovident government depend on a large and growing supply of very rich people, who are the reason federal revenues surged into surplus during the boom times of the latter half of the Clinton presidency as income inequality widened and there was a gusher of revenue from capital gains taxes.”
I think Will makes some good points, but I’d go further in saying that they left-wing ideology that drives the Democratic Party is becoming a spent force in American politics. While Reagan, Bush Sr., and Bush Jr won the Presidency while touting their Conservatism, no Democrat can be elected President or even Senator in most states if he admits that he’s a liberal. Even Clinton who took the White House twice had to portray himself as a moderate to do so and he was largely handcuffed while he was in office. Despite spending eight years in the White House, Clinton was by and large a “do-nothing” President who only managed to get two major pieces of legislation passed — Welfare Reform & NAFTA — both of which were strongly supported by the GOP. If it seems that Democrats don’t, “stand for anything”, perhaps it’s because they have no chance at winning anything in most states if they promote a left-wing agenda.
That means the Democrats are forced to go negative every election and claim that Republicans are going take old people’s Social Security away and poison our air & water. Since that never actually happens, even voters who aren’t all that tuned into politics can figure out that the Democrats are crying wolf. I believe that’s one of the primary reasons why the Democrats did so poorly in the 2002 elections and there’s no reason to think that those old canards are going to do anything but continue to become less effective each election cycle.
What all this means is that the Democrats are either going to have to find some way reinvent themselves or they may go the way of the Whigs in the next decade or two…