Interesting article in the SF Chronicle
today on the rise of the left in the Democratic Party.
Influential figures on the party's left wing are planning a long-term campaign to move the Democrats to the left, just as right-wing activists took over the Republican Party and moved it to the right over the past 30 years.
And just as left-wing activists took over the Democratic Party and moved it to the left after 1968.
Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's former campaign manager, argues that the Dean campaign has already pushed the Democratic Party -- and thereby the national political debate -- to the left.
Perhaps the debate has shifted to the left, but the population hasn't. Here's the situation in a nutshell. Moderates in the Democratic party say that the party can't win without a moderate candidate to appeal to the folks in the center who decide the election. Leftists analogize politics to a tug of war and insist that nominating moderates amounts to moving rightward (which of course is true). There is also the myth of the lost tribe of Democrats, who have given up voting. If the Democrats would just nominate a true leftist (say, Dennis Kucinich), that tribe would suddenly be energized and sweep him to victory.
I'm not sure I buy that. Republicans have been successful in moving right because the population was already headed in that direction. As the Baby Boomers aged they naturally turned more conservative. At the same time, the creaking liberal apparatus that had governed the country since the Depression ran out of gas. The Democratic party became more and more a coalition party of interest groups that frequently found one group (union members for example) at loggerheads with another (environmentalists).
More important, where exactly does the left want to pull us? The left pole, communism, has been thoroughly discredited as an economic system. State socialism, a la Europe, seems similarly in decline. Others have noted that about the only thing driving leftism in the United States is what they are against: capitalism, religion, and George W. Bush.