January 26, 2005

WRONG MORALLY IS ONE THING, WRONG POLITICALLY QUITE ANOTHER:

Winning Cases, Losing Voters (PAUL STARR, 1/26/05, NY Times)

[W]hile the institutional decay at the party's base - the decline of labor unions and ethnically based party organizations - has played a role, the people who point to "moral values" may not be far off. Democrats have paid a historic price for their role in the great moral revolutions that during the past half-century have transformed relations between whites and blacks, men and women, gays and straights. And liberal Democrats, in particular, have been inviting political oblivion - not by advocating the wrong causes, but by letting their political instincts atrophy and relying on the legal system.

To be sure, Democrats were right to challenge segregation and racism, support the revolution in women's roles in society, to protect rights to abortion and to back the civil rights of gays. But a party can make only so many enemies before it loses the ability to do anything for the people who depend on it. For decades, many liberals thought they could ignore the elementary demand of politics - winning elections - because they could go to court to achieve these goals on constitutional grounds. The great thing about legal victories like Roe v. Wade is that you don't have to compromise with your opponents, or even win over majority opinion. But that is also the trouble. An unreconciled losing side and unconvinced public may eventually change the judges.

And now we have reached that point. The Republicans, with their party in control of both elected branches - and looking to create a conservative majority on the Supreme Court that will stand for a generation - see the opportunity to overthrow policies and constitutional precedents reaching back to the New Deal.

That prospect ought to concentrate the liberal mind. Social Security, progressive taxation, affordable health care, the constitutional basis for environmental and labor regulation, separation of church and state - these issues and more hang in the balance.


Condensed version: using anti-democratic means to pursue elite ends isn't a viable long-term strategy in a democracy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 26, 2005 8:04 AM
Comments

Not elite, oligarchy, at best. More likely a kakastocracy. Yes, that's it exactly. It explains their ends, means, and nature.

Posted by: LUCIFEROUS at January 26, 2005 2:53 PM
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