Democrats – and by this I include Democratic bloggers who really should know better – have an annoying tendency to justify excessive moderation by vague appeals to popularity. I can buy not taking on a very off-mainstream cause, like removing religious expressions from national symbols, but the Democrats do that even when it’s completely pointless.
Case in point: CNN’s 2004 election exit poll says American voters support single-sex civil unions 60-37. The number is probably a bit higher now because American support for gay rights is increasingly almost monotonically. And yet half a year ago Dean had no trouble going on the Christian Broadcasting Network, which hosts the 700 Club, and saying emphatically that the Democrats opposed any recognition for single-sex couples.
At Yearly Kos, Maryscott O’Connor made the frustrating statement, framed as a question, “Why are the issues gay marriage, immigration, flag burning?… We should say, ‘I’ll answer your gay marriage question, but I want to spend the next 25 minutes talking about health care, education.”
Let’s ignore flag burning, which isn’t a political issue in the US right now; most Americans agree with the liberal position on immigration, and support a significantly more liberal gay rights policy than is currently in effect. Gay adoption, gays in the military, gay inheritance, civil unions – every major civil right but marriage has majority support in the US.
The difference between Democrats and liberals used to be that Democrats brown-nosed the Republicans while liberals opposed them. Now things have marginally improved: Democrats are presenting an alternative that’s marginally to the left of what the Republicans propose.
Unfortunately, on some issues this false doctrine of moderation, which has become so pervasive it’s used even when it puts the Democratic Party firmly to the right of American public opinion, has reached the entire left. On health care, even Feingold is talking about studying solutions, instead of coming out for single-payer health care; a 2003 poll had Americans support universal health care 62-33, going up to 75-19 in the concrete case the cost to the government is $40 billion a year (in reality it’s -$100).
It takes a special kind of cowardice to hold a secret court that rubber-stamps wiretap requests without looking at them a sound check on the President’s power. A party whose platform consists of slightly better health coverage, vague promises about education, and not even that on abortion and gay rights doesn’t have an agenda, beyond being the other party’s shadow.
(For some reason the last paragraph, after “…cowardice to,” got truncated)