I just read a very eye-opening and edifying piece over at the The Third Way website. The Third Way is the Democratic DLCish think tank for our new Moderate Democratic Party. Check out the Honorary Co-Chairs and Board of Trustees where you'll find some of our favorite Blue Dogs like Claire MacAskill and Evan Bayh.
The link to the Piece is here
Please peruse it and then join me for a discussion beneath the fold. The link is to a PDF that is 9 pages long. Clear easy reading and some good tables. Pay particular attention to the table on page 5.
Ok, nice to see you back.
In those nine pages the Third Way clearly spells out that the only way to win elections is to appeal to moderates and that a move leftward is not happening and will never happen because of the simple mathematical fact that there are more self identified Moderates than there are Liberals and that the self identified Moderates are the swing voters that must be captured for any candidate to win in any national 2 Party race. This point is re-iterated in numerous ways over the course of the nine pages.
1. Moderates are big and influential. They represented the largest share of the electorate in 13 of the last 14 congressional election cycles.
2. Democrats need to win a supermajority of moderates in order to win a
presidential or typical Senate race.
3. Liberals are not the numerical base of the Democratic Party. Most people
who vote for Democrats call themselves moderates. By contrast, most people
who vote for Republicans call themselves conservative.
On page 4 we have the Democrats dilemma in a nutshell:
The Democratic base is different and contradictory. On the one hand, the donor and organizing base is liberal. On the other, the numbers show that moderates form a larger portion of the Democratic Party than liberals. Perhaps that is why there is a constant battle over which ideas will dominate the Party—liberal or moderate
From the table on page 5 we see that 27.5 million Liberals cast their ballot for Obama and the Democrats in comparison to 34.7 Moderates. Almost all Liberals except for a very tiny group voted for Democrats. In contrast a large number of Moderates also voted for McCain and the Republicans and a much larger group of actual Conservatives voted for O and the Dems as opposed to the tiny sliver of Liberal that went Republican.
Again, over the course of the nine pages we are told that despite large liberal majorities, it doesn't matter if you don't pull in the moderates and we have this very very clear admonition in the conclusion that moderates are "the senior partner".
So there you have it, sports fans. The Democrats want and need our donations and organizing, but know that's really all they want. Liberals need to provide their vital services and bucks but acquiesce as the Party turns more and more rightward in its search for the fickle fluctuating moderate center.
NOW here is where I think the Third Way get's it totally wrong.
1. Liberals will not continue indefinitely to be ignored and taken advantage of while the Democrats woo their new Moderate girlfriend. She gets room service at the Ritz while we get McDonald's and the backseat of a Pinto? I don't think so. At some point, we'll have to wipe the mascara from our tear-streaked cheeks and look for a new partner.
2. Liberals are not the "numerical" base of the Democratic Party, but they have always been the spiritual, moral, and ethical base of the Party. Without Liberals, the Democratic Party has no soul and is just the Stepford Wife step-sister of the Republicans.
3. I absolutely believe that the entire construct of the Third Way thinking is fundamentally flawed because people self identify as "moderate" because of the subliminal positives from the label itself although they often will poll more liberally when asked about specific policies.
4.The American public is exhausted and tired and sick of politicians who don't "stand for anything" which is why they are driven to extremists under the thinking - "I don't agree with him/her but at least I know where he/she stands". This explains part of the appeal of a Ron Paul or a Chris Christie or even a Michelle Bachman. People admire people who espouse sincere views and clear goals and fight for them as opposed to promoting "compromise" as the end itself.
To conclude, it is clear that the Democrats take their 28 million Liberal voters for granted and do seat us at the Kiddie Table where we eat chicken fingers and drink Kool-Aid while the adults drink wine and eat pheasant under glass and laugh at the funny voters who still care about social justice, living wages, safety nets and the like.
That was Thanksgiving in 2010 and it will be Thanksgiving in 2012 and in all the election years from now on unless we kick over the Kiddie's table and demand some respect and some recognizable Democratic rhetoric, goals and legislation.