Democratic Cowards

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)

10 Responses to Democratic Cowards

  1. SLC says:

    The single payer plan is not a panacea. Most countries (e.g. Canada, Great Britain), that have single payer plans also impose rationing of health care. Back in the 1990s’ during the bruhaha over Hilary Clintons’ health plan antics, Senator Rockerfeller of West Virginia, who had made a careful study of the issue, proposed looking at the German plan which, apparently is a combination of single payer plus private insurance.

  2. SLC says:

    Rrelative to same sex marrige/civil unions, there is a constitutional amendment on the ballot in Virginia which would prohibit both. The current Democratic governor has come out in opposition; however, I have no doubt that it will pass by a wide margin. The issue is currently an albotros around the neck of the Democratic senatorial candidate as the f****** born agains will be out in force to pass the amendment and vote for the incumbent Republican senator.

  3. Alon Levy says:

    Germany’s system is really the worst in the developed world next to the USA’s. The good role model should be France, where people actually make more visits to the doctor than in the US, and where British-style rationing doesn’t exist or is unnoticeable.

  4. gordo says:

    The “rationing healthcare” argument really sticks in my craw. The question is not whether to ration healthcare, but how to ration it. Do we limit access to healthcare based on an individual’s ability to pay, or based on the country’s ability to pay?

    And when see the benefits of doing the latter, what prevents us from offering universal care? Why aren’t we enjoying the benefits of paying less and having better outcomes? Can we really justify the harm wrought by our current system with some abstract argument about rationing?

  5. Stentor says:

    Calling it “cowardice” implies that Democrats would like to propose progressive policies, but they’re just afraid to. More and more I’m convinced that most of the Democrats are actually conservatives at heart. They’re creatures of the establishment, and they prefer policies that promote the interests of rich white straight Christian men. But they’re edging leftward just far enough to get votes.

  6. Alon Levy says:

    Most of the Democratic politicians probably are conservatives at heart, you’re right. But it’s possible they’re not; for example, Hillary Clinton seems fairly liberal at heart, only she’s afraid of taking a stance on any issue, and won’t oppose the Republicans unless their approval rate is below 40%.

    But I’m talking about the activists. A good example here is Kos, who used to be the most liberal major left-wing blogger, and then became a Democrat and started ranting about how abortion and unionism and the environment aren’t core Democratic values.

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