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Two Bad Choices


When did the left disappear in America?  Did it indeed ever have a genuine space in mainstream American political life?  It may have been that old heartache Lyndon Johnson and his Great Society movement in the middle 60s that was the last kick of a left-of-centre can in the United States.  Certainly the Democrats in 2000 and 2004 ran as the centrist wing of the Republican Party.  They  lost, as the voters decided to go with the real thing.

If the Liberal Party in Canada, say, or the Labour Party in Great Britain, had lost the recent election, they would have three options:  to move even further to the right to try to capture Republican votes; to stay where they are and simply change the messenger; or to move left to offer a distinct alternative.  In the United States, however, that third option is simply not available: a century of vigourous directed cultural propaganda has ensured that the average American believes anything "left of centre" is evil, probably foreign, and definitely not for them.  This leaves only bad choices for the Democratic Party.

The Democrats could move even further right, taking up that space left vacant as the fundy-neocon alliance drags the GOP into the deep weeds of the righthand margin.  But the last two elections, most especially that of 2004, have shown that the American electorate is attracted to the genuine article, probably because the message is clearer and without apparent guile.   The Democrats, who now find themselves well to the right of Richard Nixon, by contrast sound as if they'd rather be someplace else.

Or, they can stay roughly where they are (still to the right of Nixon) and choose a more charismatic leader.  In this scenario, they will blame the flat and elitist Kerry for the defeat, thus saving themselves the bother of intellectual effort, and then start the search for the next Great White Hope. We've been here before with Dukakis and Kerry.  It worked with Bill Clinton, but a true Democratic bubba with half a brain is hard to find.  Hilary probably starts out favourite, but it will be a messy internal fight and, in the end, likely useless. 

In any sensible situation, the ground should be perfect for a new party to storm up the left wing, scooping up all those Democrats who are crying in their beer, and seizing the youth of the country in a new and exciting movement for progressive reform.  However, the American political landscape doesn't appear all that sensible right now and I have no hope that such a movement can either be formed or made to run.  But, in 2009 ....

November 4, 2004 in America Inc, Campaign 2008 | Permalink

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Comments

In the United States, however, that third option is simply not available: a century of vigourous directed cultural propaganda has ensured that the average American believes anything "left of centre" is evil, probably foreign, and definitely not for them.

Kennedy was considered a liberal; and John Kerry was dubbed the most liberal Senator. Over 55 million people voted for John Kerry. In other words, over 55 million people wouldn't have minded having a bonafide liberal in office.

Posted by: shelly | Nov 6, 2004 8:42:18 PM

My point is that John Kerry and the present Democratic Party can only be considered "progressive" or "liberal" in an American context. In any other western political context, the Democratic Party is definitely on the right side of centre.

Posted by: Jak King | Nov 6, 2004 8:57:01 PM

This really isn't about the Dems vrs the GOP.

Clearly it is the demographics of the U.S. which bluntly splits into the north vrs the south just as it always has been (there is still always talk from the south to secede).

This is the history of Texas and those close states where the Texans emigrated from.

James Michener's book "Texas" gives an amazing insight to its history of land and its people. A good long read.

Also, it is the souths attitude that they can do anything they want; in their communities, states, country or global community.

The reality is and always has been - the north against the south.

Posted by: Bev in BC | Nov 7, 2004 11:36:37 AM