Iowa Boy's interesting diary about the freepers and how they are alienating all but the most die hard conservatives and/or religious fundamentalists got me thinking.
A big part of his diary was how he felt more at ease with the Democrats than with what remains of the Republican party, and how that could lead to massive victories for the Democratic party.
But if the Democratic party gains the influx of what can only be described as "sane conservatives", what will happen to it? How will these people, that should be in the Republican party, had it not been hijacked by its extremists, influence the Democratic party? If the Democrats stand for sanity against the clear and present danger of the Bush administration, an overwhelming victory is indeed needed, but what will it mean?
If what can at best be described as a centrist coalition of the left and the sane right wins against the extreme right. where does it govern next? On the left? Or with the ideas of the sane right, i.e. Republican ideas?
Does the Democratic party stand for more than "not the extreme right"? And if so, how do you define it?
To be clear:
- listening to allies,
- not invading countries for no reason,
- not cutting taxes for the rich,
- not caring about what happens in bedrooms,
- not being corrupt,
- not being hostile to regulations,
- not wasting taxpayers money
while a decent and worthwhile programme and a huge improvement on what the current lot is doing, is not a particularly progressive laundry list. This is a good center-right programme. This is what Republicans did 40 years ago.
Thus, the Bush adminstration, although it is self-destructing, is essentially successful: it has pulled public discourse so far to towards the hard right, taking advantage of the active complicity of part of the media, and of the cowardice of the rest, keen to "balance" the two sides and thus moving the "center" to the right following (half of) Bush's lead.
There's a line in Friends that has always made me laugh: Joey, after Chandler has betrayed him by kissing his then girlfriend tells him: "you are so far past the line that, from where you are, the line is a dot." The line is absurd for whoever has basic knowledge of maths, but it works. And with Bush where the metaphorical Chandler is, the traditional left-right line is a dot for him - and for the current "moderates" who are only half as far, it's a ... larger dot?
Because once, hopefully, the Bush administration is discredited and gone, there will be a fight for the control of the Democratic party, and for what it means to be a Democrat. And if in that fight for ideas, and for the soul of the party, the debate is between the Republicans that joined since 2004 and the DLC, the result will be a huge victory for Bush, and yet another major shift rightwards for political debate.
I know I am a crazy European lefty, and that the political spectrum for economic ideas is not quite the same in France and in the USA, but I'm still surprised by the strength of the reactions here on DailyKos against what seem to me to be pretty uncontroversial social-democratic ideas - the traditional left appears to be a minority on the site (it's represented, mind you, and certainly not suppressed, this is not my point - I'm just surprised to see how much hostility to its ideas (unions, government as a force for good, taxes as necessity) is also represented on the site).
So don't rejoice too much that 45% of Americans now define themselves as Democrats - make sure that they understand the word as you see it, not as simply 'sane and not Bush'. That's necessary, but it's not enough.
Just a note: the same drift to the right is happening in Europe, and we Europeans have to fight it there. This is not a Europe vs USA diary.