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    In 1964, Barry Goldwater ran for President on a platform of principled conservatism. His policies were so far-right as to include the possibility of using nuclear weapons in the Vietnam war. He went down in a landslide defeat against the popular incumbent Lyndon Johnson, but his willingness to articulate an uncompromising vision of America based on "strict father morality" (as defined by Prof. George Lakoff in "Moral Politics") laid the foundation for a generation of GOP dominance in American politics. Ronald Reagan, Goldwater's spiritual heir, further deepened this worldview during his tenure, and the rise of W in conjunction with the neoconservative/theocratic/media alliance represents the culmination of Goldwaterism in America. Goldwater himself lost the battle, but his vision won the war.

    With the decline of the New Deal coalition and the rise of Goldwaterism, America has seen the center of gravity in politics shift further and further to the right. The Democratic party's response to this has been to move to the right in an attempt to capture an ephemeral "middle" or "moderate", while taking for granted an increasingly disillusioned and inactive base. This approach is most characterized by the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), the so-called "New Democrats," and Bill Clinton. The Democrats have run scared of advocating progressive policies due to losses by George McGovern in 1972, and to some extent, Mondale in 84 and Dukakis in 88 (without understanding all of the factors involved in these losses or looking at a coherent long-term view).
    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.

Originally posted to mrmatthew on Thu Nov 04, 2004 at 02:41 PM PST.


Should we go for true progressivism in the future or make compromises to win short-term battles?

31%5 votes
18%3 votes
6%1 votes
25%4 votes
18%3 votes

| 16 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Bushism is not Goldwaterism (none)
    Barry Goldwater is a centrist compared to George W. Bush.

    Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.

    by JimTXDem on Thu Nov 04, 2004 at 02:39:37 PM PST

  •  Tip jar (none)
    Comments? Recommendations? Thanks for reading... Peace!
  •  Well (none)
    As much as I sympathize with your agenda, it has no chance to win in this country.

    Kerry did what he had to do: compromise to have a chance to win and advance these agendas.  Unfortunately, even that was too much for the bigots that this country has.

    Contrarely to what you think, Kerry has done a lot.  He has proven that a liberal can be a viable candidate.  He did not get killed like Dukakis and we can seriously think that the only reason Bush won was cheating in Florida.

    •  Kerry did a lot (none)
      I agree. To add to that, he faced a more vicious campaign than even Dukakis did. We never think they can get worse, but then they do. He also had the media stacked against him.  On an even playing field, W would not have had a chance. And I do think he has helped to pave the way for future Dems.
  •  Great analysis (none)
    Everyone called teh Republican party dead after 1964, only to see Nixon take control in 1968.

    We cannot be afraid to be Democrats.  We are the party of the people, so let's start acting like it.

    The one thing I learned from this election is that it doesn't matter what you say or who you offend.  People all said that Bush is a great leader because he is consistent.  It did not matter to them that he will lead us all off of a cliff because of his stubborness, they were just attracted to his steadfastness.  So we need to learn from that and be steadfast in our principles.

    Howard Dean saw this early on and the DLC refused to get the message.  Well, now it's goodbye DLC, you failed.

    It's time to get back to basics and laud people like Howard Dean, because in the longer run, everyone sees that he was right.  And many moderate republicans were willing to vote for Dean.  Because he was principled and was not afraid to speak the un-popular truth.

    "Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber" - Plato

    by Dan Torres on Thu Nov 04, 2004 at 02:58:25 PM PST

  •  I agree. (none)
    I agree because I am simply not going to vote for another person without principles.  I am just totally unwilling to support another candidate like Kerry.  

    You say that someone like that can't win?  Well fine, but I am not voting for another candidate like Kerry and he did not win.

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