The Democrats and the Big Tent

Michael Tomasky has an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times similar to the one I recently noted by Paul Waldman in the Boston Globe debunking the claims that this was a victory for conservative Democrats. In looking at the House, he notes that some claim the victories came from those who disagree with Pelosi on the issues:

But that’s not quite true. In fact, of the 27 Democratic candidates for the House who won outright Tuesday, only five can truly be called social conservatives. Far more are pro-choice, against the Iraq war and quite liberal. Why, there’s even a woman who was tossed out of a presidential event for wearing an anti-Bush T-shirt (New Hampshire’s Carol Shea-Porter), and a fellow who ran an alternative newspaper and who proudly supports affirmative action — in Kentucky, no less (John Yarmuth).

So the experts got it wrong again, which is really not so surprising given that what happened last week was quite nuanced. The Democrats moved to the center and to the left at the same time. In doing so, they became more like the hegemonic Democratic Party of old. And if, in 2008, it turns out that last week did in fact usher in an era of Democratic resurgence, it will be precisely because the party managed to sustain this left-center coalition and render the distinctions between the two groups less important.

Tomasky notes that the Democrats, unlike the Republicans, are a big tent party with diverse views:

In other words, the Democrats have a long, long history of disagreeing on social issues while agreeing for the most part on economic matters. And while I’m certainly not advocating a tent so big as to accommodate today’s reactionaries — who in any event are Republicans now — it is clearly the case that the Democratic Party has endured far more severe disagreements on social issues than those that face it now.

That sums up why I’ve supported the Democrats. While I think there is more diversity on ecomomic as well as social issues, the bottom line is that, even though there are times I disagree with Democrats, and some are far too conservative on social issues than I would like, in a two party system there is little choice between the Democrats and the party of the religious right.

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  1. 1
    kj says:

    “The Party of the Religious Right” is exactly what Karl Rove wanted and exactly what he got. The Republican party has a long way to go to redeem themselves in my eyes. They courted power and the powerful and left the majority of American citizens behind without jobs, healthcare or hope.

  2. 2
    battlebob says:

    You mean to become successful, Repubs may have to go left?
    Why, they may end up becoming Democrats.:)

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    Rove’s strategy of getting out the conservative base only worked in 2002 and 2004 due to fear created by 9/11. It was not a stragegy which could work long term. Even Bush ran as a compassionate conservative in 2000. Smear tactics only work for so long. Sooner or later you have to produce.

  4. 4
    battlebob says:

    The old adage about absolute power corrupting absolutely applies to the Repub party.
    As dems have the reins and work toward having more control in 2008, we have to be wary of doing the same thing.
    That is one reason Pelosi is trying to consider Repubs. The Repub party resorted to their natural arrogance and turned a lot of folks off. She doesn’t want Dems to become the same way. So we will try to play nice with others..up to a point.
    We are all together in this rat race.

    When I was with McCain, there was a lot of genuine respect for the other side. Everyone wants to do good for their constituents. By playing to people’s worst fears, Repubs made coperation impossible. Now they have to change their behavior or run the risk of loosing more power in 2008.
    Repubs can no longer win by rape, pillaging and plundering their opposition.

  5. 5
    kj says:

    battlebob, I’d be happy to see the Republicans turn left to the days of Ike and even, gasp of all gasps, Goldwater. Barry seems downright liberal by comparision to the current crop of neocons.

    “Sooner or later you have to produce” I really thought the ‘wingers were going to have another two years to “rape, pillage and plunder.” It’s just plain fantastic to be where we are right now. A lot of decisions to be made, but just to have some transparency back, and to have words and the thought behind them actually mean something again, ah.

  6. 6
    kj says:

    Even if it’s Poppy’s team again. And it is. Still better than two more years of Rummy and Cheney. GWB is now left with attempting to salvage whatever is left of his “legacy,” and that might mean some smart moves in the Middle East, ie., a Palestine state. Maybe. I’m hoping.

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