This attempt to move right has turned Democrats into slaves to Goldwaterism, like a hamster on a leash - Goldwaterism pulls right, and the Democrats follow. One could argue that the Democratic party is on the verge of becoming the Moderate Republican party, while the Republican party is on the verge of becoming the Neoconservative Theocratic party. Kerry's campaign rhetoric and foreign policy positions were often close to a moderate Republican such as (George Bush. Sr.).
John Kerry's entire campaign typified this rightward drift. Even though Kerry is in truth an anti-war hero, he framed himself as a war hero, and ran away from his anti-war activities. He staked out the most convoluted position on the Iraq war he possibly could in an attempt to ambiguously appeal to both side of the fence: he voted for the war, and he'd vote for it given all he knows now, but if he'd been President, he wouldn't have started the war, and now that we're there, he's going to bring the troops home, but he's still going to somehow "win" the war, a war that many experts have already declared lost and beyond repair. (What??!) He's for the Mass. state amendment banning same sex marriage, but against the federal amendment. He's for increased health coverage, but not universal health insurance. And on, and on.
This is not to say Kerry would necessarily have won with a progressive agenda - he still might have lost. He might have even lost by a larger margin. Public opinion polls show conservatives outnumber progressives in America - and that has to change. We have to be willing to shift the discourse over a generation. Our focus should not be the election in four years but the elections over the next 40 years, and whether progressives or conservatives will be in the majority when the youth of today - who overwhelmingly support same sex marriage and voted against Bush - are senior citizens.
Had John Kerry been willing to take a principled stand for progressivism, he might still have lost the battle, but started a long-term process that would have enabled us to win the war - that would have been true heroism. Instead, he lost the battle and accomplished nothing discernible.
The good news is, progressives have a better worldview than "strict father morality" - it's called "nurturant parent morality." That's what true progressivism is, and this worldview is one of principled nonviolence, sustainable economy, renewable energy, cooperation, universal health care... Let's have the courage to stand up for a politics of true progressivism and build a long-term progressive majority.