Wednesday, March 08, 2006

"Uncompromising Democrats"

This is the key passage in John Dickerson's Slate column about why the Democrats are unlikely to do in 2006 what the Republicans did in 1994:

Because he had Republicans united behind him, Gingrich used the contract to reach out to Perot voters who cared about balancing the budget but didn't care about issues crucial to social conservatives. Gingrich made fiscal responsibility the lead item in the contract and kept out any talk of abortion, school prayer, or protecting the rights of gun owners. He had the power to convince social conservatives to go along, and the party finished the race on the most broadly appealing, excruciatingly poll-tested message. Today's Democratic base would almost certainly see such a move as a sellout and another sign of their leadership's tendency to capitulate.

And what did social conservatives get for their compromise? They are now the dominant wing of the Republican Party, and fiscal conservatives have pretty much been pushed aside. The religious right hasn't won every battle, but they've won a hell of a lot, and they've made incredible strides in curtailing a woman's right to seek an abortion.

The activist wing of the Democratic Party, however, pretty much threatens to take their ball and go home every time the party nominates a candidate who doesn't meet each and every one of their criteria. It's a brilliant strategy, if you like losing elections.


Blogger Maria said...

BUT, the social conservatives were not opposed to cutting taxes, nor did they run a bunch of social liberals. They did not spit on the social conservatives issues.

BIG difference between what Newt did and what Schumer is doing running red candidates in blue states.

11:38 AM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

That's a fair distinction to make. In fact, one could argue that the real sacrifice was being made by the fiscal conservatives, many of whom are probably ambivalent at best--or in opposition at worst--toward the concerns of the social conservatives to whom they had to offer an olive branch.

I also don't like what Schumer and Harry Reid have done in chasing candidates out of Democratic primaries and deliberately choosing candidates they knew would alienate the party's base. Part of the reason is because I question the strategy of avoiding primary contests.

However, and as I've noted on various occassions here and at your blog, I don't believe that opposition to abortion rights should disqualify one from being a Democratic candidate. I think compromises--like the ones that the GOP establishment made in supporting a pro-choice candidate like Arlen Specter against a conservative comer--can yield dividends.

12:07 PM


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