Monday, December 13, 2004

Rebuilding the Democratic Party

A recent article by Peter Beinart in The New Republic (requires an online subscription) contains an analysis of liberalism's political problems and what can be done to improve them. The essence of the article is that a far-Left dominated by Michael Moore and MoveOn is seriously undermining liberals on national security issues in general and the war on terror in particular. The solution is simple: give mainstream liberalism a boost by cutting out the "blame America first" crowd.

It worked before and it could work again; I'm sure Pat Buchanan being driven out of the Republican Party before the 2000 Republican primaries did a lot of good for Governor Bush's general election campaign, for example. On the other hand, the $40 million raised by MoveOn for Democrats for 2004 is not something that Democrats will discard lightly. Fahrenheit 9/11's $200+ million worldwide box office earnings also means that Michael Moore might be too valuable for liberals to do without.

These types of tactical details are themselves a bit of a smokescreen since an alternative to the Beinart view is in plain sight, presumably gearing up for her presidential campaign in 2008. One key to the success of the Clintons in the 1990's was their unfailing use of propaganda effect to advance their agenda; another sufficiently ruthless liberal candidate might be able to use a Clintonian propaganda style to revitalize liberalism. That wouldn't be good for democracy, or for liberalism's attachment to reality, but a purely propaganda-oriented liberalism might win a lot of elections, which is all that would really matter at that point.

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