November 08, 2004


George W. Bush's reelection should cause us to take a hard look at the Democratic Leadership Council's record as custodian of the national Democratic party.

The DLC's self-styled "progressive" ideology has driven the Democratic party away from its working-class roots and into the arms of corporate technocrats, a position which has crippled the party's ability to appeal to average voters. Listen to this claptrap from the DLC's website:

New Democrats are the modernizers of the progressive tradition in American politics. We believe in the traditional values that have always propelled the Democratic Party and we believe that the best way to further those values in a new era is to modernize our policies and programs to keep up with the changing times.
What does this mean? The professed belief in "traditional values" that Democrats used to stand for is buried under an unrestrained enthusiasm for "modernization" in a "new era" to "keep up with the changing times." It's no surprise that voters don't often know what the Democrats stand for.

Thomas Frank has given us a comprehensible translation of this DLC mumbo-jumbo:

For some time, the centrist Democratic establishment in Washington has been enamored of the notion that, since the industrial age is ending, the party must forget about blue-collar workers and their issues and embrace the "professional" class. During the 2004 campaign these new, business-friendly Democrats received high-profile assistance from idealistic tycoons and openly embraced trendy management theory. They imagined themselves the "metro" party of cool billionaires engaged in some kind of cosmic combat with the square billionaires of the "retro" Republican Party.

The problem with speaking the language of values is that it tends to force you to confront what those values actually are. The DLC's values are those of the corporate class, the mega-entertainment industry (think Dianne Feinstein), and the well-to-do cosmopolitan professional class.

There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but we should be very clear about what we sacrifice when we allow the party to be guided by people who stand for Disney and Viacom. We lose any credibility we might have with the voters in Akron, Ohio who've lost their jobs to downsizing and "global competitiveness." We lose our credibility with average folks who've been told by the Republicans that, as Frank puts it, they're the "victims of a haughty overclass - 'liberals' - that makes our movies, publishes our newspapers, teaches our children, and hands down judgments from the bench."

Average folks aren't dumb. At least, they're no dumber than I am, and even my Bush-loathing self knows an "elitist liberal" when I see one. They run the DLC.

Posted by Carey at November 8, 2004 10:40 PM