Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Whither Moderate Democrats?

A lot of ink has been spilled concerned the demise of moderate Republicans. Where we once had a strong voice in the party, we are now at best sidelined by the far right, if not outright chased out.

It seems the press is finally starting to notice that the rabid left has taken a page from the far right's strategy to take over the GOP and have started spewing venom at anyone that doesn't share their rabid values.

Over the past few days, there have been two articles in the Washington Post (you can access them here and here) that show a hard left that I believe wants to remake the Democrats in the way that the hard right remade the GOP.

The second article is about a recent conference that included such luminaries of the hard left such as former Attorney General Ramsey Clark ( I guess he found time to attend in between defending some the world's worst leaders like Saddam and Slobodan Milosevic) and Cindy Sheehan, fresh from here visit with Venezuelan President/strongman, Hugo Chavez. The second piece notes that Sheehan is mulling a bid to challenge California Senator and moderate Democrat, Diane Fienstien, in the Democratic primary.

It also looks like Connecticut Senator Joe Liberman should be watching his back as well. He might be facing opposition from his left from a Ned Lamont. And it looks like the far left base demands Liberman's head for his "cowardice." Just read this reaction after yesterday's filibuster vote on Samuel Alito by a Kossack:

Lieberman f****n voted FOR cloture. If we do one thing this year it should be to find a REAL Dem for that senate seat - or whenever he's up for reelection.

A "real" Democrat, huh?

Sort of reminds me of reactionaries in my own party who call folks like Arlen Specter, Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe "RINOs" or "Republicans in Name Only."

From the looks of things, it seems that moderate Democrats are also becoming an endangered species. And that's sad. While the fringes of both parties might see moderates as traitors to the cause, these are the ones that roll up their sleeves and get things done. They aren't motivated as much by ideological purity as they are in doing what's best for the country as a whole. The fringes are interested in feeling good and love it when someone spews venom at the other side.

The thing is, while the far left and far right duke it out to see who is right, our country is facing several crises in the near future. What will we do about Iran? What about Hamas? How do we fight terrorism and not lose our civil liberties? How do we bring about affordable health care? How do we rebuild the Gulf Coast? What about Social Security and the Baby Boomers? What about Avian Flu?

America has a lot on its plate and the last thing we need is to talk about impeachment or trying to save the "life" of a brain-dead woman.

I worry that the loss of moderates in our nation's public life means that less will get done. More babies, less grownups.



gljunket said...

Well said! I've recently been rescued from a depressed state by Centrist bloggers who offer the hope of emerging sanity. A couple of great books, Independent Nation and The Radical Middle, show how our polarized political scene has survived the extremists before, and can again. If neither Party can wise up in '06 and '08, we'll have to do it the hard way with a third party.

Paul Wartenberg said...

I've been saying for years that the moderates from both the GOP and the Dems need to leave their respective parties, and form an effective third party from which to moderate more successfully between the two political extremes. If enough Republicans leave and enough Democrats leave each of those parties, it will mean no one party will hold a majority, and the moderates can force a coalition through which compromises can/will be made.

The Truffle said...

Dennis, it's not a matter of moderate vs. hard left. As a Democrat and a long-time Kossack, I can tell you that a lot of us have deep respect for moderate Democrats like Harry Reid and John Murtha. Why? Because they are willing to stand up to Bushco when it's needed.

As Kos himself has pointed out, Lieberman is an Iraq war supporter and Bush apologist who follows right-wing frames. He's considered a "Fox News Democrat," the kind of guy they bring on to slam members of his own party. That's why he's considered a faux Dem. It has nothing to do with being a moderate.

You quote a random Kossack. I should point out that Kossacks don't just include liberals or Democrats but also Republicans and even some conservative libertarians.

Finally, Ramsey Clark is considered a lunatic fringe figure and I doubt anyone pays much attention to the guy. He certainly has no standing in today's progressive movement.

Heiuan said...

Dennis, I'm a moderate Democrat. Yep, I've been flamed for being DINO before. I wear the label proudly, actually. And I post at Kos on occasion.

Regarding Leiberman: I don't really consider him a democrat. He is much more of a moderate independent, for lack of a better term.

That being said, I don't see any reason for him to change his beliefs, but he might want to change his party like Jim Jeffords did. As an Independent, he wouldn't have to worry about catching flack from the far left wing of the Democrats.

Their response seems to be more of a NIMBY kinda thing anyway, lol. They've forgotten the Republican outrage when Jeffords skipped out. What's the word that was all the rage a while ago...schadenfreude...something like that.