November 14, 2002
TRUE THINGS:Where Do We Go From Here? (Anna Quindlen, 11/18/02, NEWSWEEK)
There has been much muttering that the Democrats should not now reflexively move leftward in defeat. But what constitutes left when viewed from the right-or when viewed by political consultants-isn't really left at all. Wanting to register and license guns, or eschewing a quick-fix tax cut to avoid ever-increasing deficits: those aren't radical notions. Lest we forget, the alleged left-wing positions of years past are now the bedrock of democracy: the franchise for black Americans, the equality of women.
Those were Democratic positions when Democrats took positions (and Republican positions when there actually was a moderate wing). Bill Clinton changed the party by embracing the middle. But there's a difference between embracing the middle and slinking toward it. The voters can smell it. They can also smell it when someone really believes, as opposed to that faux belief described as positioning. That's why the late, great Paul Wellstone, a guy who any reasonable person would have said was too liberal and too unpolitic to be a politician, got elected twice. Was it the ill-advised pep rally masquerading as a memorial service that did in Wellstone's surrogate, or was it that the unaccustomed whiff of principle had disappeared with the ebullient firebrand who dared oppose the president's bully war?
No, that's right Ms Quindlen, there's nothing radical about wanting to subject a constitutional right to government registration and licensing or about raising tax burdens during an economic downturn, or about opposing a war with a dictator who hates us and who's developing weapons of mass destruction. And the problem with the Wellstone rave wasn't that its participant behaved shamefully, but that the rest of us were shamed into realizing that Mr. Wellstone had been right on the issues all along. And the Republicans all now oppose the franchise for blacks and equality for women. And there's an Easter Bunny, a Tooth Fairy and a Loch Ness Monster; and the American Founding was a Masonic plot; and there was a second gunman on the grassy knoll; and Eric Roberts and Julia Roberts are really two different people.... Posted by Orrin Judd at November 14, 2002 9:49 AM