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Friday, April 16, 2004

A Lament for the Democrats.

Mark Sullivan mourns the party of Roosevelt, Truman, and Henry "Scoop" Jackson:

I believe the Democrats today would be hard to beat if they were strong on defense, championed America and freedom on the world stage, looked out for the little guy, and maintained at least a residual respect for the moral and religious values of Main Street America – in short, if it returned to being the Democratic Party of FDR, Harry Truman, JFK and Scoop Jackson.

Speaking as someone raised in roots-Republican rural Michigan, I have to agree. I think that Republican success in the past 35 years is largely due to dumb luck--the Democrats misplayed an unbeatable hand. In 1968, the bolsheviks began to storm the party's bastions, and by 1972, they'd succeeded. With the exception of the Carter hiccups, they managed to alienate most of the electorate with an agenda seemingly calculated to alienate the people we now call "Reagan Democrats." For the second time in their often-noble history, the Dems are on the wrong side of a fundamental human rights issue, again denying the full humanity of an entire group of people; this time, their own children.

Not that the Republicans are any prize, though. Even in my youth (he says, marvelling at the amount of gray culled during every visit to the barber), the quintessential Republican was the aproned shopkeeper or yeoman farmer, a decent play-by-the-rules fellow who was a full member of the community and wanted what was best for it--even if it didn't give him the best bottom line. The Democrats in my neck of the woods growing up were Larouchies or hard-leftist malcontents engaged in an experiment to see how few votes could be obtained by one party on a two candidate ballot.

The community-mined approach I grew up with is increasingly not the mindset of the national party. That party is the "Just Win, Baby!" force of the corporations, but at the same time also the shrugging libertarian invoker of the invisible hand of the market as the healer of all ills. Lest we forget, this is the same free market whose corporations sell Pink, Britney, Nelly and thongs to preteens (take a look at your local high school to see the downstream effect). The party that celebrates outsourcing like a sacrament. The party happy to jettison the embarrassing religious types at the drop of an electoral hat (hint--great idea, if you relish being a perpetual minority party).

They retain my loyalty increasingly because they are less appalling than the Democrats, not necessarily because they are the friends of me and my family or have our best interests in mind. On the other hand, the Dems' stiff arm gets a little longer every year.

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