September 3, 2008

MEMO TO FILE: The American Left and the Democrats are now 80% the same

The Way It Is

One of the realities of contemporary American political life that has been brought into sharp relief by the Web-Wide Palin flamewar that has broken out in the last week is the nearly complete absorption of the Democrats into the American Left. Outside observers have long known this to be the case, but as the days go by this is becoming increasingly clear to unaligned and unhypnotized Americans.

I've looked at how this happened and what it means in: Radical Roots and the Conquest of the Democratic Party where I note:

The American Left receives many things from their conquest, not the least of which is the damage it does, axiomatically, to the United States. They also receive money, lots of it; especially when you think of the low funding levels the American Left has had for most of its existence. Their plunder also includes electoral organizations -- many -- as well as access to local, state, and national unions in the public and private realms. Add in mailing lists tens of millions of names long as well as websites and online acolytes by the thousands.

Most important of all, the American Left now has open access and control over sitting Democrats in Washington and the state legislatures. With money and organizations to win elections, the American Left now has the power over elected Democrats to instruct them to support and advance some decidedly non-centrist, non-liberal, but classic Leftist agendas. In a very real sense, the conquest of the Democratic Party gives the American Left a base that it could never hope to win, and will now probably never win, at the ballot box.

If you would see the American Left's apotheosis, regard the near vertical ascent, wreathed in light, of Barack H. Obama to hover over hordes of rapt worshipers eager to have their sins washed clean by his voice and visage. [Essay now republished directly below this item.]

Still, the media -- even the media not at all on the Left -- continues to afford the Democrats the benefit of the doubt when it comes to Leftism. This when, looking at the policies, the funding sources, the platform, and the candidates of the Democrats, Leftists and Leftist views are the only things to be seen.

By way of example Peggy Noonan in today's WSJ notes:

Because she jumbles up so many cultural categories, because she is a feminist not in the Yale Gender Studies sense but the How Do I Reload This Thang way, because she is a woman who in style, history, moxie and femininity is exactly like a normal American feminist and not an Abstract Theory feminist; because she wears makeup and heels and eats mooseburgers and is Alaska Tough, as Time magazine put it; because she is conservative, and pro-2nd Amendment and pro-life; and because conservatives can smell this sort of thing -- who is really one of them and who is not -- and will fight to the death for one of their beleaguered own; because of all of this she is a real and present danger to the American left, and to the Obama candidacy.[Emphasis added ]
Of what does "the American left, and to the Obama candidacy" consist today? The largest part of the American Left is now the Democrat Party and while not all Democrats are Leftists and not all Leftists are Democrats, the overlap is approximately as pictured above.

To pass off the actions and attitudes of the Democrats, 2008 as those of "the American Left" without seeing the overwhelming overlap between a major political party and a major American political philosophy seems to me to be a denial of the political realities of 2008.

Ms Noonan's observation that the danger is to "the American left and the Obama Candidacy" could be made clearer if she eliminated the code words and just wrote, "the Democrats and the Obama Candidacy." Shorter still, "the Democrats." After all, one of the basic things we learn in "The Elements of Style" is, "Omit needless words."

The idea that there is any significant difference between the Left and the Democrats is so 20th century. It would be nice if everybody, right, left, and center, would just stop pretending.

Posted by Vanderleun at September 3, 2008 10:48 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

A quibble: the Venn Diagram is upside down. For the sake of accuracy, the Left should be at the bottom.

Posted by: Gagdad Bob at September 3, 2008 11:14 AM

If you want to make one that way, I might use it. Just hacking in the Venn. Life being too short to learn new software every day.

Posted by: vanderleun at September 3, 2008 11:21 AM

But, but . . . What happened to the VAST RIGHT-WING CONSPIRACY?

Darn, we could sure use one now.

Posted by: Roderick Reilly at September 3, 2008 12:54 PM

I'm just hoping that Palin will be the catalyst that wakes the Dems up to the fact that they have been taken over. Ronald Reagan figured it out a long time ago ... before it got really bad.

"I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The party left me." (RR - 1962)

And then more recently we've seen Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman. There are Democrats who get it. Most of them still have their heads in the sand, though, and think they can weather the storm.

Posted by: philmon at September 3, 2008 1:20 PM

Dear Sirs,

Party loyalty is exceptionally strong in this country. Witness the South. For five generations after the Civil War a Republican couldn't get elected dogcatcher. It finally flipped - not because of race as everybody seems to think, but because of the 1968 Democratic Convention and the anti-war movement.

Party preference is determined by, in descending order: family, friends, workmates, church, social groups and finally policy. Most people don't much pay attention to politics and habitually vote party.

When people do switch it is either for one election (Reagan D's) or for life - the South. The major reason people switch is not affinity but rather distaste. Reagan didn't win because he was Reagan. He won because Carter was Carter.

If Obama scares enough people this time it could trigger a sea change.


Posted by: Roy Lofquist at September 3, 2008 4:44 PM