Wednesday, November 24, 2004

There Is No Such Thing As "Republican-Lite" --
A comment posted to this MyDD thread.

There is a fundamental way in which the American political system differs from parliamentary systems. There, interests have their own political parties who form coalitions after the elections. Here, interests form coalitions before the election and run candidates. The two main coalitions are the Democrats and the Republicans.

Which is why I shake my head at those who say we are better off without non-liberals who they call "Republican-lite." I don't particularly like it when the ideological extreme in the GOP tries to purge its office-holding slate of non-ideologues which makes me doubly-displeased when those in my own party start insisting on ideological purity. That is in no way the proper stance for the purported party of tolerance.

The Democrats once had a Congressional majority because they forged an alliance between Northern liberals and Southern conservatives. The Republicans now have a Congressional majority because they have forged an alliance between cultural conservatives and free market, national security types who may be quite secular and libertarian on social issues.

What should a new Democratic coalition look like if it has a prayer of retaking Congress? Those who have a knee-jerk distaste for Harry Reid might say that we should forge a civil liberties coalition linking diehard liberals and libertarians, but I don't think the numbers add up for that to work.

Instead, I think we should look at the New Deal coalition, which brought people together based on a new understanding of the relationship between government and the economy. We should look at Bill Clinton, who said, "It's the economy, stupid."

The new Democratic alliance should be between liberals who believe in progressive economic ideals and those who can be helped by progressive economic ideals, but who may be culturally more conservative than the current Democratic mainstream. This is not to say that liberals should give up cultural liberal ideals, only that they should be more tolerant of deviance on social issues than on economic issues.

This type of alliance will make the Democratic Party competitive in at least some of the Mountain, Heartland, and South regions. "Competitive" does not mean guaranteed to win, it just means not guaranteed to always lose.
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