What happened to the Democrats?

Peggy Noonan writes an excellent piece that I think is worth discussing on this board. Lately I have noticed that Dems in particular seem to care less about America and more about power for their party. Of course some of this has always existed on both sides, but now I honestly believe that Republicans believe in the things that they support as being the best positions for the country, while the Democrats seem to be more interested in counting how many special interest groups they can garner votes from. Yes, I am a conservative but I still think that I look objectively at the political landscape. Please, before commenting that “Republicans are evil liars” or “Democrats are anti-American”, at least read the article. There is much that can be discussed in it, and I believe can be used as a basis for progress in our thinking. Below is one of the many points that she offers.

"The first is what seems to me a lack of a constructive spirit within your party. Great parties exist in part to give us markers for the future. They offer a rough map that will get us to a better and higher destination. In the Democratic Party now, and for some time, I have not perceived that they are trying to get us to a good place. They seem interested only in thwarting the trek of the current president and his party, who are, to the Democrats, “the other.” When the president is a Democrat you now support him no matter what. You support him if he doesn’t have a map, and isn’t interested in markers, and is only interested in his own day-to-day survival.

I am not saying you are too partisan. Partisanship is fine. But Republicans by and large don’t suffer from blind loyalty or blind antagonism. They would think it irresponsible to the country. They will bolt on one of their own if he insists on a route they think is seriously wrong (the first Bush on taxes). They will kill his presidency if they conclude he is essentially destructive (it was his Republican base in Congress that ended Richard Nixon’s career). Recently it was Republicans who did in their own Senate majority leader because they would not accept a certain kind of nonsense. If George W. Bush begins to seriously compromise conservative political philosophy, or to behave in a manner grossly offensive in a leader, they will turn on him too.

The Democratic Party will now stick with its guy forever, no matter how harmful he is. Perhaps you call that loyalty, and perhaps there’s something to it, but a bigger part, I believe, is that you have come to think that winning is everything–that victory is the purpose of politics.

If the purpose is just winning, you can do anything to win. And you can do anything to stay. You never give an inch. But people who never give an inch sometimes wind up occupying tired and barren terrain. "

I don’t agree. I think there are certainly Democrats of the stripe you describe, but there is no dearth of Republicans who are focused more on victory and power than on what they feel is right. Equally, there are Republicans that act from positions of integrity. I don’t believe wither party has a monopoly – or even a convincing claim - on integrity.

Consider the Estrada nomination, discussed at length elsewhere on this board. The Democrats that oppose him do so not based on his qualifications, but on his political positions. Republican Estrada supporters accuse Democrats of anti-Hispanic bias, when they know that that’s not remotely the reason for the opposition. Nor are the Republicans innocent victims of this power play; it’s the reverse of what they did when they controlled the Senate and Clinton nominees were being considered.

There are politicians - few and far between - of each party that I regard as being motivated primarily by integrity and conviction, rather than political expediency. I don’t see a trend that limits these people to one party or another.

  • Rick

That’s Peggy Noonan lamenting partisanship? And Texican agreeing? 'Nuf sed.

This is pretty rich!

I am saying that you are too partisan. You believe you can be objective. You are wrong.

That is the most laughable statement I have read today.

Really? It appears to me that when Republicans go wrong they have to account for their selves. However Democrats will defend each other no matter what.

The Clinton impeachment is a great example. The Clintons managed to dig up dirt on Bob Livingston, that he had an affair decades ago. He resigned over it. Clinton never even considered it, nor did any other Democrat that I am aware of suggest it.

But that is just one issue. Read the actual article.

Huge overgeneralization. But, I think it is notable that the right is often more willing to self-critique. The recent protests being organized by radical leftists who actually support Castro and Kim Jong Il come to mind. No way could the right get away with this. I had leftie after leftie tell me that it was irrelevant if a protest was organized by a group which actually supported Kim Jong Il, and his dad before him.

You don’t hear anyone on the left going after Robert Byrd, US Senator / Confederate General / N-word user. Sexual relationships where there is a huge power disparity in the workplace are wrong and actionable under law. Um, except in the White House. Etc., ect.

But, I hate the preachy wing of the Republican Party, so, don’t bother pointing out all the knobs over there, to me anyway. I’m just noting the imbalanced set of priorities the left often employs. Obviously the righties have their own set of inconsistencies.

Cite? In fact (something we take seriously here, take note), Livingston revealed the affair himself, knowing that he could not proceed with the impeachment with such bald-faced hypocrisy. That didn’t stop Henry “Youthful Indiscretion” Hyde, or too many other hypocrites, though.

Beagle, got a reference for those pro-Castro, pro-Kim protests happening at all? And, even if true, how do you make the case that they represent “the left”, speaking of “huge overgeneralizations”?

I’m gonna need some real evidence to back up this assertion, as it seems to me that both parties are equally unwilling to critique themselves.

This statement is the very definition of blind antagonism. You knee-jerk conservatives love to play the Six Degrees of Clinton Game, where anything position can be justified by a link to Clinton. Give it a rest, you sound like a caricature out of a bad political cartoon…

Stalinists / Castrophiles

Generally, look here:

Frontpage Magazine

Since Horowitz has impeccable anti-war radical credentials I tend to think he is right until someone proves his many revealing articles about the demonstrations wrong.

If David Duke protested the war, would you go? Seriously.


Bob Livingston, Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott - all nuked by the Pubs.

Perhaps this is due to the nature of liberals to tolerate alternate viewpoints instead of shouting them down? Instead of demanding that other liberals “toe the line” they simply let them talk? I have no doubt that there are liberals who decry Robert Byrd(in fact, hang on a few minutes and I’m certain one or two of them will stop by this very thread). I also have no doubt that there are liberals who decry Castro and Kim Jong Il, Clinton’s relationships, etc. etc.

The difference is that liberal critics still believe in the freedom to express whatever opinion someone may wish to hold. They may speak against it, but they(in an ideal world, there are some thugs who identify as liberal, but I’d argue that they’re not representative of the group as a whole) will not try to make them stop.

I always find these types of criticisms of liberalism amusing. To encourage alternative viewpoints is one of the tenets of liberal thought. There is no real power structure in a liberal organization(very little organization at all typically). Even a simple consensus is fairly rare and will include numerous caveats. For such people to “self-police” would violate their basic natures. To expect it of them is naive. To demand it, jerkish.


Tex, a very quick comment on your first paragraph – for many of us, the perspective is exactly reversed, with the Democrats standing for issues and the Republicans pandering to groups that will win them votes and campaign contributions. I haven’t had time to read the whole thread (and will come back to it later) but that’s an initial reaction – and what it says to me is that the whole thing is built on individual perceptions. I’m no righter or wronger than you in alleging the reverse of that paragraph, unless one or the other of us can substantiate our position by evidence of the internal motivations of the majority of politicians (which I think may be impossible).

Right. Prove this statement. You must not get out or read much.

College campuses are really encouraging to those conservative speakers and groups, aren’t they? That’s why Horowitz is greeted by dozens of cops when he goes to speak to the tolerant liberals.


Me…me…me also…me…

[/Phil Connors]

Beagle, if you think college campuses, always full of the naive and self-righteous and rude, are representative of the broad spectrum of American liberal thought, much less thought in general, then you need to get out or read more. IMHO as always.

But won’t the tolerance of unethical behavior allow the more unethical people to rise to power?

Republicans have given the impression that their members have a wide range of opinion, and those in power who espouse bad ethics get replaced.

The only high-profile Democrat to be replaced recently was Dick Gephart, and it gave the impression that it was over their large defeat in the last mid-term election. The Democrats seem to ignore ethical failures as long as the person has the correct views on abortion, taxes, affirmative action, etc.



Polycarp, thank you for a reasoned response. I hope that you will read the article and comment on that as well. The usual partisan politics don’t really bother me much, but when they involve things like national security I get a bit more incensed. It is my opinion that we should put country ahead of politics. Right or wrong, I honestly believe that Bush and his administration is pursuing the correct path in eliminating rogue regimes that legitimately pose a threat to our security. I do not believe that it is for personal or political gain, though I am not naive enough to think that if there is a buck to be made or a vote to be swung, the opportunity will be siezed as a matter of course. But it is not the motivating factor. But when I see Tom Daschle, for example, making statements that completely contradict his statements from 1998 when Clinton was bombing Iraq, I cannot help but feel that the motivation is purely political. He isn’t the only one either. And when Clinton bombed Iraq, Republicans didn’t question the reasons nor whether Saddam brought it on himself through his treaty violations or other acts, it was simply protesting the timing of the matter to take the heat off Clinton’s problems here at home.

Texican, they were foaming at the mouth screaming, “WAG THE DOG!!!”

In Bush’s case, maybe he’s trying to take the heat off of the economy, and the fact that we don’t have Bin Laden yet?