Monday, April 25, 2005

How To Reform The Democratic Party

There's been much discussion since the last presidential election about what's wrong with the Democratic party, and what can be done to fix it. Typically, there isn't much agreement among Democrats about the correct approach, even though the conservatives are united about what's wrong with the left. The Democrats' desperation along with the Republicans' smug belief that they are the party of God is driving some Democrats toward the idea that the left needs to reclaim the moral territory ceded to conservative Christians. After the elections Hillary Clinton gave some ground on the abortion issue, and some commentators have suggested trying to appeal to socially-conservative but blue-collar voters by distancing the party from "MTV-land" (and, really, can you ever be far enough away from Paris Hilton?).

But, personally, i think that won't get it done. Why? Because while morality makes for good election-time rhetoric, in practice people aren't really all that moral. People (or at least men) like rap videos with dozens of bikini-clad models, and we like Desperate Housewives, and we like Grand Theft Auto, and we like inane jet-set-white-trash stories about Britney and Jessica. If you've ever actually gone to church on Sunday morning, you know that a large percentage of the people in the pews next to you are hung-over from the night before.

My crackpot idea is this: don't move too far right, don't move too far left, just move a wee bit toward libertarian. The Democrats need to become the party that's going to leave you the hell alone. We're not going to tell you what to do with your body, we're not going to say what you can do in your bedroom, we're not going to monitor your medical records or search your home without your permission. We're not going to bust you for a little weed, or edit what you see on TV or listen to on the radio. The Democrats, i contend, have lost the working class base not because they've lost touch with middle-class morality, but because in the process of trying to give the working class complete security the left has started to act just like their goddam parents.

Unfortunately, this'd be a pretty big change for the D's. First, it'd mean some major policy changes. I think the party would have to give up on much gun-control regulation. I think the Democrats would have to change the perception that they want to solve all fiscal problems with more taxes. I think the party would have to revisit business and environmental regulation at least to the extent that regulation is context and locale relevant. Most importantly, i think the Democrats would have to find leadership that could articulate a vision of a world where the federal government provides necessary services without intruding on personal liberties, where civil liberties do not take a back seat to combating our enemies, and where the pursuit of happiness is unimpeded by the struggle to survive.

No comments: