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11/06/2004

Split the Democratic Party

There are sharp regional and ideological divides within the Democratic Party. These divides to date have been a weakness, letting the GOP tar one wing of the party with the regionally unpopular views of the other, forcing wings of the party to compromise their principles for the sake of avoiding alienation of the other.

Despite our divisions, we share much. We all embrace of good government, good process, and fact-driven policy. We study issues to look for solutions, not to delay reckoning. We share principles, valuing workers and labor, education, diversity, the environment, respect for our elders, and concern for those struggling to make ends meet. We share moral values, believing it wrong to wage war without cause, to favor the wealthy at the expense of the people, to pass the costs of our largesse on to our children.

It is time to turn our divisions into our strength. There are a number of Democratic caucuses in the Senate and House. We should consolidate and reposition the ideological caucuses to create two umbrella coalitions: one embracing urban liberalism and one embracing rural populism.

We could then brand and publicize the wittily named caucuses. Senatorial candidates in Kentucky should be able to say "I am a [Blue Dog] Democrat," and people should know what that means. Senatorial candidates in Massachusetts or California should be free to shout their liberalism from the rooftops.

Embracing the division would add new dynamism to the party. Now, the DLC condescends and attacks the Democratic wing of the party. The Democratic wing of the party ignores the DLC. Debates between the Progressive Policy Institute and the Center for American Progress, between The New Republic and the Nation, represent all legitimate sides of every political issue. The Republican Party adds nothing but lies and misinformation to policy debates, so why include them at all?

The divisions wouldn't be sharp, with people like Obama (and much of the industrial Midwest - Durbin, Dayton, Levin, Stabenow, Feingold, Kohl) fitting clearly into both. This wouldn't entail a return to the division of the Dixiecrat era - Dixiecrats are all Republicans now. We could have friendly discussion about national security strategy without the DLC accusing liberals of being Nevillish or liberals accusing the DLC of warmongering. Opening space within our party offers the opportunity of electoral improvement and reclaiming the "party of ideas" mantle.

 

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