Democrats in delusion


E. J. Dionne sees the "Democrats in disarray" today, in his Washington Post column of the same title. And he actually gets it right on a couple of points. But he can't quite put together the bigger picture. Although an intelligent and fairly perceptive observer, he may be too firmly entrenched in the same Democrat mindset of which he writes to have an adequate perspective on it.

Dionne mentions the extraordinarily nasty and personal tone of so much rhetoric from his side:

Criticisms of the Democrats are usually personalized: This or that leader is said to be inadequate, or the party as a whole is said to lack "guts," "gumption" and "clarity."

Since he is presumably speaking of elected leadership, I guess it is okay to overlook such neologisms as 'Chimpy' and 'BushHitler', found on the left these days, and on prominent display in Washington, D.C. last Saturday.

But Dionne drops his insight immediately, as he goes on to explain that the Democrats' problems are really 'structural,' meaning that self—identified conservatives outnumber self—identified liberals by 34% to 21% of the electorate. He treats this disparity as if it had a life of its own, and is not the outcome of decades of public experience with the failures of liberal solutions, and in reaction to the sheer vitriol they see on the left.

Even worse, Dionne, vaguely aware that hot button Democrat issues like extreme abortion permissiveness have little appeal to the moderate middle, seems to prescribe more attacks:

The truth is that opposition parties normally get a chance only when the governing party disappoints. For the time being, that means Democrats will have no problem staying united behind the imperative of keeping Bush on the ropes. The flow of negative news about the administration will do much of the Democrats' work for them.

What Dionne cannot admit is that a financially dominant faction of his party is built on hatred. Hatred for President Bush, hatred of conservatives, and hatred for many of the traditions and many aspects of America. Their own self—image and personal esteem is deeply dependent on their conclusion that they are better than others around them.

That presumptive superiority may provide comfort for hardcore Democrats in the face of life's inevitable troubles, but it does not attract much support from the rest of us. The real solution to the Democrats' problems would be to come up with some policies that are based on a proper understanding of human nature, and to grant their political opponents the presumption of basic human decency. But that would be such a great change as to alienate the core of the party, and so it will never happen.

Thomas Lifson   9 27 05