Is there light at the end of the dank, dark tunnel that is the Democratic mindset? Will they realize that the future of opposing the Republicans lies in opposing the gov't they control, like I suggested? While I agree that populism is historically connected to the people voting themselves money (and "programs") from the treasury, I don't share Arthur Silber's view that populism cannot be redefined. Since the Republican party is basically designed to do the same thing, just only for the elite, couldn't the Democrats become the party that opposes welfare, corporate and popular, altogether? Should I be optimistic about this:
We're the "out party" now. Republicans control every nook and cranny of the federal government they still pretend they are fighting. Why on earth can't Democrats finally take advantage of hostility to Washington, supplementing anti-corporate populism with anti-government populism? Polls consistenly show that more than a third of Americans don't know who controls Congress. But how often did you hear any Democrats--not just Kerry, but congressional Democratic candidates as well--remind voters of that fact, or pledge to reform all the patent abuses of power in Washington, from corporate welfare to strong-arm partisanship to fiscal profilgacy? Why are we defending government programs, and demonizing every dishonest Republican claim to reform them, when Washington is being run by Republicans like a country club? Beats me.The keys to a libetarian reform of the Democratic party are:
(1) As long as the moral majority craves value-based governance, the Democrats will never be able to win by appealing to the intellect (a point that Silber rightly makes). This election should be proof positive of that. So instead of mindlessly pretending that, no, the masses REALLY support your agenda, change your agenda to empower the individuals that support you as agents of reform. Masses don't think, but individuals do. Appeal to them. Give them something to vote for.
(2) Getting it through the thick heads of liberals that they cannot win the machinery of the state without resorting to the Karl Rove mentality. Therefore, social engineering and the big-gov't mentality that accompanies it must be jettisoned. Paint the Republicans and government with the same brush, and paint yourselves as the small gov't alternative. I don't even think they have to abandon state-run "safety net" ideas completely, but emphasize local and state programs instead of federal ones.
(3) Democrats largely brought this cynical, power-hungry mentality on America themselves. They must return to a deeply rooted, revolutionary idealism: liberty and freedom for the individual. They must bring Jefferson back into the party.
Is this too much to dream? Maybe. Let's see how it plays out.
UPDATE (11/12/04): Check out the Libertarians for America blog that seeks to move the Democrats towards libertarianism. This guy was a libertarian who backed Howard Dean for President before he screamed.Read this article