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Author Topic: Why phony "centrism" is bad for the Democratic party  (Read 6020 times)
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jfern
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« on: February 07, 2006, 03:34:40 pm »
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Many on this forum have said that the Democratic party needs to move to the right. Here I outline several problems with this argument.

1. Liberals already realize that very liberal candidates generally can't win. That's why they support more moderate candidates like Howard Dean, Russ Feingold, and Paul Hackett. Of course some people confused "outspoken" with "liberal". Someone like Cindy Sheehan would probably not be a good candidate.

2. Let's look at the Socialist party of the teens and '20s. They didn't exactly do well electorally. Now look at their platform. Funny, most of that has happened without the Socialist party ever winning. That's right, by running on those issues, they entered the political discourse, and were actually later implemented by their opponents.

3. The Democratic party may be the big tent party, however lets look at Zell Miller. Hehas a 96 rating from the ACU, supports the worst President ever, and while NY is subsidizing his state said that New Yorkers don't deserve to have a commission looking into why 9/11 happened and how to prevent it in the future, because such a commission would "be encouraging the terrorists". Crazy right-wingers like George Allen and Bill Frist had more moderate ACU ratings. Clearly Zell Miller is no Democrat, and anyone who doesn't understand that isn't a Democrat either.

4. Suppose the Democratic party does as some "Democrats" suggest and move halfway between the current Democratic party and the Republican party. It doesn't take a genius to realize that this would quickly move the country to the right, and encourage the Republican party to move even further right

5. What would happen to the liberals if they were completely abandoned as opposed to the current mostly abandoned? They would stop voting Democrat, they would either stay home or vote 3rd party. They would stop giving money to, volunteering their time for, and arguing in support of the Democratic party.

6. What would be the message that swing voters get? If the Democratic party were to move to the right, and like many "Democrats" on this forum spend more time criticizing the powerless left than the hard-right that runs this country, people would notice that even the Democratic party seems to think that conservative ideas are better than liberal ideas. The Republican ideology would win. However, the Democratic party would still be chasing the Republican party, and people would realize this and vote for the Republican party over the Republican lite party.

7. What is it that "centrists" have to offer America? They seemed to all be behind the Iraq war? Thanks to them, Bush was able to invade a country for no good reason, hurting the war against Al Qaeda, hurting our credibility worldwide, and blowing several hundred billion dollars. I, like most voters, want real leadership, not someone who just follows ideas of Bush.

8. The Democratic party has the public on its side on quite a lot of issues. 88% support raising the federal minimum wage. 65% support Roe v. Wade, and so on. On health care, many Democrats don't even seem to be in the majority here:

The Democratic party's problems are not where they are on the issues, but on getting their message out through the hostile media controlled by the right-wingers. The media would rather talk about anything besides the important issues. Bush went down in flames both times amoung people who said that the issues were the most important.

9. I leave you with a poll. NBC March 31st to April 3rd, 2005.

"Which of the following roles would you like to see the Democrats in Congress play? (A) Work in a bipartisan way with Republicans to help pass President Bush's legislative priorities so that we do not have gridlock. OR, (B) Provide a balance to make sure that President Bush and the Republicans do not go too far in pushing their agenda."

63% choose option B, stand up for what is right. Only 30% choose option A, help pass Bush plan.

http://www.pollingreport.com/congress.htm
« Last Edit: February 07, 2006, 04:08:26 pm by jfern »Logged
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« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2006, 04:02:20 pm »
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Added another point.
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« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2006, 04:04:24 pm »
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this is actually a decent argument by jfern.  Good post, and I hope more quality ones to come.
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« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2006, 04:05:19 pm »
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I haven't had a chance to read much of this, but it looks well-thought out and interesting.  I'm marking it for when I get home.
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« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2006, 04:08:47 pm »
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It does have a couple of flaws, but much of it is true.
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« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2006, 04:31:53 pm »
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I stopped taking your argument seriously when you said that Howard Dean was a moderate and Zell Miller was a crazy right-winger. Even my scale of politics isn't that far shifted to one side.
Zell Miller has become a pretty crazy rightwinger, although he was very different just ten years ago apparently; and he said Dean was a "more moderate" (read: liberal) ... which is objectively spot-on.
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« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2006, 04:47:39 pm »
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Well done, JFern.  I give you credit on this one.  As far as phony centrism, the proper solution is to redefine what the Democratic party is.  Get rid of the "big tent" concept and establish what your core views are, and make sure your politicians match those views.  This will, of course, shock the party initially, but it will shake out all the true centrists and moderates out of the Democratic party, leaving it with it's liberal core. 

The cast-offs can finally form a true moderate party, and pull into it some of the centrist/moderate Republicans, providing a better representation of what America really is.  We could end up with the Republicans, Democrats, and the Populists, with the Constitution, Libertarian, Green, Reform, and other parties gaining more political recognition and strength with the reduction in the domination by the two existing parties.

Now THAT I would love to see.  Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2006, 04:51:06 pm »
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I stopped taking your argument seriously when you said that Howard Dean was a moderate and Zell Miller was a crazy right-winger.  Even my scale of politics isn't that far shifted to one side.

Dean talks like a liberal but governed as a moderate.
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« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2006, 04:59:22 pm »
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Well done, JFern. I give you credit on this one. As far as phony centrism, the proper solution is to redefine what the Democratic party is. Get rid of the "big tent" concept and establish what your core views are, and make sure your politicians match those views. This will, of course, shock the party initially, but it will shake out all the true centrists and moderates out of the Democratic party, leaving it with it's liberal core.

The cast-offs can finally form a true moderate party, and pull into it some of the centrist/moderate Republicans, providing a better representation of what America really is. We could end up with the Republicans, Democrats, and the Populists, with the Constitution, Libertarian, Green, Reform, and other parties gaining more political recognition and strength with the reduction in the domination by the two existing parties.

Now THAT I would love to see. Smiley

Note that I am not saying that the Democratic party must become ideologically pure.


I stopped taking your argument seriously when you said that Howard Dean was a moderate and Zell Miller was a crazy right-winger. Even my scale of politics isn't that far shifted to one side.
Zell Miller has become a pretty crazy rightwinger, although he was very different just ten years ago apparently; and he said Dean was a "more moderate" (read: liberal) ... which is objectively spot-on.

This may be true, but the country's political spectrum has Miller as a right-moderate and Dean as a far leftist. No matter which is true, the argument becomes moot when the scale is hypothetical. The argument is logical, but in an ideal situation where the political spectrum of the country is centered in the center.

Zell Miller is no moderate, he had a 96 ACU rating in 2004, placing him to the right of Allen and Frist.

Dean had a fairly moderate record as governor of Vermont, including an A rating from the NRA. His health care plan was less expensive than most or all of his Democratic primary rivals. He turned deficits into surpluses, even though Vermont is the sole state that isn't required to balance its budget. Just because the media tries to paint him a certain way doesn't mean that its true.
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« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2006, 05:28:21 pm »
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jfern is, as usual, completely correct. However, alas, liberalism is having difficulty ascending to electoral success because of :
1) hatred of gays, blacks, and women, (aka religion) and
2) irrational xenophobic nationalism (aka the 'war on terror').
I see no way of overcoming these two monumental stupidities in the average american drone/voter.
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« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2006, 05:29:23 pm »
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Well done, JFern. I give you credit on this one. As far as phony centrism, the proper solution is to redefine what the Democratic party is. Get rid of the "big tent" concept and establish what your core views are, and make sure your politicians match those views. This will, of course, shock the party initially, but it will shake out all the true centrists and moderates out of the Democratic party, leaving it with it's liberal core.

The cast-offs can finally form a true moderate party, and pull into it some of the centrist/moderate Republicans, providing a better representation of what America really is. We could end up with the Republicans, Democrats, and the Populists, with the Constitution, Libertarian, Green, Reform, and other parties gaining more political recognition and strength with the reduction in the domination by the two existing parties.

Now THAT I would love to see. Smiley

Agreed, MODU. ^_^
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« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2006, 06:40:07 pm »
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I stopped taking your argument seriously when you said that Howard Dean was a moderate and Zell Miller was a crazy right-winger. Even my scale of politics isn't that far shifted to one side.

Dean was quite moderate as governor.  Endorsed by the NRA everytime he ran for re-election, balanced the budget every year he was governor, cut taxes, etc...  He didnt shift 'hard left' utill he ran for president.
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« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2006, 06:54:12 pm »
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Well done, JFern.  I give you credit on this one.  As far as phony centrism, the proper solution is to redefine what the Democratic party is.  Get rid of the "big tent" concept and establish what your core views are, and make sure your politicians match those views.  This will, of course, shock the party initially, but it will shake out all the true centrists and moderates out of the Democratic party, leaving it with it's liberal core. 

The cast-offs can finally form a true moderate party, and pull into it some of the centrist/moderate Republicans, providing a better representation of what America really is.  We could end up with the Republicans, Democrats, and the Populists, with the Constitution, Libertarian, Green, Reform, and other parties gaining more political recognition and strength with the reduction in the domination by the two existing parties.

Now THAT I would love to see.  Smiley

Agreed, MODU. ^_^

As do I.
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« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2006, 06:56:18 pm »
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I really have to take a look at the times that either party moved to the edges, 1964 and 1972.  Not good models.
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« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2006, 07:01:27 pm »
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Some good points there, JFern.

Obviously, though, the Roe v Wade question is misguided because few people actually know what the ruling does.  Only about 15% actually support complete legalization of abortion.
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« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2006, 07:04:34 pm »
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Some good points there, JFern.

Obviously, though, the Roe v Wade question is misguided because few people actually know what the ruling does. Only about 15% actually support complete legalization of abortion.

Yes, but we wouldn't vote for a party that did not support complete legalization of abortion.
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« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2006, 09:02:55 pm »
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ZZZZZZZzzzzzzz..... what a bore, liberalism is taking a rather extended nap in our country for a looong time, time to see that and either support pretty faced "moderates" or stay on your kook fringe and achieve nothing for a long time
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« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2006, 09:24:57 pm »
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ZZZZZZZzzzzzzz..... what a bore, liberalism is taking a rather extended nap in our country for a looong time, time to see that and either support pretty faced "moderates" or stay on your kook fringe and achieve nothing for a long time

And if there is a declared Socialist in the Senate in 2006 and we've got someone to the left of Clinton as POTUS in 2008? =)
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« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2006, 09:27:51 pm »
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ZZZZZZZzzzzzzz..... what a bore, liberalism is taking a rather extended nap in our country for a looong time, time to see that and either support pretty faced "moderates" or stay on your kook fringe and achieve nothing for a long time

And if there is a declared Socialist in the Senate in 2006 and we've got someone to the left of Clinton as POTUS in 2008? =)


Who and Who and what does your little lsd trip get done in office with Legislatures held by conservatives? =)
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« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2006, 10:52:40 pm »
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Who and Who and what does your little lsd trip get done in office with Legislatures held by conservatives?  =)

Socialist in the Senate:  Bernie Sanders
Liberal in the Whitehouse:  Russ Feingold (as my personal favorite example =)

Oh and the Dems will have an actual majority in the house and an effective majority in the senate in 2006 and an actual majority in the senate in 2008.
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« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2006, 01:40:09 am »
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1. Liberals already realize that very liberal candidates generally can't win. That's why they support more moderate candidates like Howard Dean, Russ Feingold, and Paul Hackett. Of course some people confused "outspoken" with "liberal". Someone like Cindy Sheehan would probably not be a good candidate.

That's true but we (I'll use to refer to my wing of the Democratic party from here on) also have to make concessions.  In a perfectly balanced electorate, a Ben Nelson or Joe Lieberman may elicit a challenge from the left and throw an election to the Republicans.  Instead, we compromise on types such as John Kerry or the ones listed above (although I probably wouldn't include Feingold).

2. Let's look at the Socialist party of the teens and '20s. They didn't exactly do well electorally. Now look at their platform. Funny, most of that has happened without the Socialist party ever winning. That's right, by running on those issues, they entered the political discourse, and were actually later implemented by their opponents.

That's a point but you realize forming a splinter party would probably give a minimum of 10-20 years of Republican control.  Additionally, I don't think a majority of the country would ever come to support your ideology the way that it eventually did in the 1930s (I don't mean in an insulting way.

3. The Democratic party may be the big tent party, however lets look at Zell Miller. Hehas a 96 rating from the ACU, supports the worst President ever, and while NY is subsidizing his state said that New Yorkers don't deserve to have a commission looking into why 9/11 happened and how to prevent it in the future, because such a commission would "be encouraging the terrorists". Crazy right-wingers like George Allen and Bill Frist had more moderate ACU ratings. Clearly Zell Miller is no Democrat, and anyone who doesn't understand that isn't a Democrat either.

Agreed.  Zell Miller is not a Democrat and doesn't even come close to our ideology.

4. Suppose the Democratic party does as some "Democrats" suggest and move halfway between the current Democratic party and the Republican party. It doesn't take a genius to realize that this would quickly move the country to the right, and encourage the Republican party to move even further right

I disagree.  Let's take a look at Bill Clinton.  I think you and I agree he's from my wing of the Democratic party.  In the 2000 election, Bush campaigned as a moderate and won.  The reason the Republican party has been able to move to the right and win elections is because of 9/11 not due to Clinton's rightward-Democratic leanings.

5. What would happen to the liberals if they were completely abandoned as opposed to the current mostly abandoned? They would stop voting Democrat, they would either stay home or vote 3rd party. They would stop giving money to, volunteering their time for, and arguing in support of the Democratic party.

But would that by counteracted by the 11% of Democrats who voted for Bush and the moderate independents more likely to vote Democratic?

6. What would be the message that swing voters get? If the Democratic party were to move to the right, and like many "Democrats" on this forum spend more time criticizing the powerless left than the hard-right that runs this country, people would notice that even the Democratic party seems to think that conservative ideas are better than liberal ideas. The Republican ideology would win. However, the Democratic party would still be chasing the Republican party, and people would realize this and vote for the Republican party over the Republican lite party.

Speaking as one of the "Democrats" you mention, I post about an even number of liberal and conservative ideas.  My liberal posts generally go unnoticed while my conservative ones are blasted and made more public by the likes of yourself, Progress and opebo (not picking on you guys).

7. What is it that "centrists" have to offer America? They seemed to all be behind the Iraq war? Thanks to them, Bush was able to invade a country for no good reason, hurting the war against Al Qaeda, hurting our credibility worldwide, and blowing several hundred billion dollars. I, like most voters, want real leadership, not someone who just follows ideas of Bush.

I personally opposed the Iraq War from the onset unlike liberals Hillary Clinton, Byron Dorgan, Tom Harkin, John Kerry, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer.

8. The Democratic party has the public on its side on quite a lot of issues. 88% support raising the federal minimum wage. 65% support Roe v. Wade, and so on. On health care, many Democrats don't even seem to be in the majority here:

The Democratic party's problems are not where they are on the issues, but on getting their message out through the hostile media controlled by the right-wingers. The media would rather talk about anything besides the important issues. Bush went down in flames both times amoung people who said that the issues were the most important.

The reason that minimum wage isn't an issue is that the Republicans have been able to adopt a more moderate platform and not call for the repeal of the minimum wage (the opposite of what you're proposing the Democrats do).  On abortion, pro-life activists are much more vocal than pro-choice ones which helps the Republicans overcome that deficit.

9. I leave you with a poll. NBC March 31st to April 3rd, 2005.

"Which of the following roles would you like to see the Democrats in Congress play? (A) Work in a bipartisan way with Republicans to help pass President Bush's legislative priorities so that we do not have gridlock. OR, (B) Provide a balance to make sure that President Bush and the Republicans do not go too far in pushing their agenda."

63% choose option B, stand up for what is right. Only 30% choose option A, help pass Bush plan.

http://www.pollingreport.com/congress.htm

That question is a bit loaded.  Of course no Democrat (except maybe Zell Miller) wants to see all of Bush's priorites passed, as option A replies, that's why we're not Republicans.

Well-thought out points though, jfern.
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« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2006, 02:45:14 am »
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1. Liberals already realize that very liberal candidates generally can't win. That's why they support more moderate candidates like Howard Dean, Russ Feingold, and Paul Hackett. Of course some people confused "outspoken" with "liberal". Someone like Cindy Sheehan would probably not be a good candidate.

That's true but we (I'll use to refer to my wing of the Democratic party from here on) also have to make concessions.  In a perfectly balanced electorate, a Ben Nelson or Joe Lieberman may elicit a challenge from the left and throw an election to the Republicans.  Instead, we compromise on types such as John Kerry or the ones listed above (although I probably wouldn't include Feingold).

Ben Nelson will easily win his primary. Connecticut can do a lot better than Joe Lieberman.

Quote

2. Let's look at the Socialist party of the teens and '20s. They didn't exactly do well electorally. Now look at their platform. Funny, most of that has happened without the Socialist party ever winning. That's right, by running on those issues, they entered the political discourse, and were actually later implemented by their opponents.

That's a point but you realize forming a splinter party would probably give a minimum of 10-20 years of Republican control.  Additionally, I don't think a majority of the country would ever come to support your ideology the way that it eventually did in the 1930s (I don't mean in an insulting way.

I didn't suggest starting a splinter problem, I was just pointing out that short-term winning elections isn't everything, and would hurt you in the long term if you sacrificed bringing up the issues that needed to be brought up.


Quote
3. The Democratic party may be the big tent party, however lets look at Zell Miller. Hehas a 96 rating from the ACU, supports the worst President ever, and while NY is subsidizing his state said that New Yorkers don't deserve to have a commission looking into why 9/11 happened and how to prevent it in the future, because such a commission would "be encouraging the terrorists". Crazy right-wingers like George Allen and Bill Frist had more moderate ACU ratings. Clearly Zell Miller is no Democrat, and anyone who doesn't understand that isn't a Democrat either.

Agreed.  Zell Miller is not a Democrat and doesn't even come close to our ideology.

OK


Quote
4. Suppose the Democratic party does as some "Democrats" suggest and move halfway between the current Democratic party and the Republican party. It doesn't take a genius to realize that this would quickly move the country to the right, and encourage the Republican party to move even further right

I disagree.  Let's take a look at Bill Clinton.  I think you and I agree he's from my wing of the Democratic party.  In the 2000 election, Bush campaigned as a moderate and won.  The reason the Republican party has been able to move to the right and win elections is because of 9/11 not due to Clinton's rightward-Democratic leanings.


Clinton's charisma helped quite a bit. Also, he was originally more liberal, but party disunity in Congress stopped his health care plan, and lost us Congress.


Quote
5. What would happen to the liberals if they were completely abandoned as opposed to the current mostly abandoned? They would stop voting Democrat, they would either stay home or vote 3rd party. They would stop giving money to, volunteering their time for, and arguing in support of the Democratic party.

But would that by counteracted by the 11% of Democrats who voted for Bush and the moderate independents more likely to vote Democratic?

A lot of those "Democrats" are just DINOs. Some fraction of Republicans voted for Kerry too. Sometimes people are just slow at changing their voter ID.

Quote
6. What would be the message that swing voters get? If the Democratic party were to move to the right, and like many "Democrats" on this forum spend more time criticizing the powerless left than the hard-right that runs this country, people would notice that even the Democratic party seems to think that conservative ideas are better than liberal ideas. The Republican ideology would win. However, the Democratic party would still be chasing the Republican party, and people would realize this and vote for the Republican party over the Republican lite party.

Speaking as one of the "Democrats" you mention, I post about an even number of liberal and conservative ideas.  My liberal posts generally go unnoticed while my conservative ones are blasted and made more public by the likes of yourself, Progress and opebo (not picking on you guys).

You're right, I have noticed you making some good posts that I didn't respond to.

Quote
7. What is it that "centrists" have to offer America? They seemed to all be behind the Iraq war? Thanks to them, Bush was able to invade a country for no good reason, hurting the war against Al Qaeda, hurting our credibility worldwide, and blowing several hundred billion dollars. I, like most voters, want real leadership, not someone who just follows ideas of Bush.

I personally opposed the Iraq War from the onset unlike liberals Hillary Clinton, Byron Dorgan, Tom Harkin, John Kerry, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer.

How is Reid a liberal? Or some of those others. Either Dorgan is a liberal who wins in North Dakota, or he's not a liberal.

Quote
8. The Democratic party has the public on its side on quite a lot of issues. 88% support raising the federal minimum wage. 65% support Roe v. Wade, and so on. On health care, many Democrats don't even seem to be in the majority here:

The Democratic party's problems are not where they are on the issues, but on getting their message out through the hostile media controlled by the right-wingers. The media would rather talk about anything besides the important issues. Bush went down in flames both times amoung people who said that the issues were the most important.

The reason that minimum wage isn't an issue is that the Republicans have been able to adopt a more moderate platform and not call for the repeal of the minimum wage (the opposite of what you're proposing the Democrats do).  On abortion, pro-life activists are much more vocal than pro-choice ones which helps the Republicans overcome that deficit.

88% support raising the minimum wage. They didn't ask how many wanted to get rid of it. Obviously it was less than 12%.  I'd hardly call the most extreme subgroup of 12% of the population the moderate position.

As for your example with abortion, there's a number of factors
1. Media tends to be pro-Republican
2. The Republicans are powerful and are on message
3. The Democrats aren't so good at unity and being on message


Quote
9. I leave you with a poll. NBC March 31st to April 3rd, 2005.

"Which of the following roles would you like to see the Democrats in Congress play? (A) Work in a bipartisan way with Republicans to help pass President Bush's legislative priorities so that we do not have gridlock. OR, (B) Provide a balance to make sure that President Bush and the Republicans do not go too far in pushing their agenda."

63% choose option B, stand up for what is right. Only 30% choose option A, help pass Bush plan.

http://www.pollingreport.com/congress.htm

That question is a bit loaded.  Of course no Democrat (except maybe Zell Miller) wants to see all of Bush's priorites passed, as option A replies, that's why we're not Republicans.

Well-thought out points though, jfern.

Thank you.
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« Reply #22 on: February 08, 2006, 08:55:11 am »
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Speaking of phony centrism, Killary needs to drop the act.  She's not fooling anyone.
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"Anybody who doesn't appreciate what America has done and President Bush, let them go to hell." - Betty Dawisha, Iraqi vote
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« Reply #23 on: February 08, 2006, 08:59:28 am »
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Speaking of phony centrism, Killary needs to drop the act. She's not fooling anyone.

Good point.  She is in reality right-leaning.
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« Reply #24 on: February 08, 2006, 09:07:06 am »
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Speaking of phony centrism, Killary needs to drop the act. She's not fooling anyone.

Good point. She is in reality right-leaning.

Lay off the crack, Opie.
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"Anybody who doesn't appreciate what America has done and President Bush, let them go to hell." - Betty Dawisha, Iraqi vote
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