ARE LIBERAL HAWKS FACING AN IMMOVABLE OBJECT ?
The ubiquitous praktike is posting on intra-Democratic Party politics today and the difficulty that the factional division between liberal hawks and left-liberals is causing the Democrats in terms of articulating a coherent and attractive foreign policy to the voters:
“What Democrats need to do is convince a majority of Americans that they will protect them from danger just as well if not better than the Republicans. I don’t think Kosovo furthered that agenda one way or the other, because it wasn’t about a threat to us except in an indirect “save NATO from irrelevance” sense. That didn’t excite too many folks outside the beltway, and I think most Americans don’t go for humanitarian wars either. Terrorism, on the other hand, is very scary, and the GOP is masterful at playing upon and amplifying genuine and understandable fears and offering a simplistic narrative as to how those fears are best combatted. Likewise, the spectre of “weapons of mass destruction” looms large in the American imagination.”
I have said before that I wish praktike and his cohorts at Liberals Against Terrorism well. While the conservative in me likes to see the GOP trounce the Democrats at the polls the American in me realizes that to have one of the two political parties of the preeminent world power paralyzed on issues of defense, counterterrorism, foreign policy and covert operations is a very bad thing. While Democratic and Republican foreign policies should vary in emphasis and detail, this variance needs to revolve in an orbit around a core of commonly held assumptions about American national security. A core that in some important areas doesn’t exist any more.
I think praktike and those like him will be stymied for the medium term. The left-liberal boomers and Gen-X anti-globos who control the mass of the Democratic base of activists are Oliver Stone Democrats who have internalized the New Left revisionist critique of American power. It’s a visceral schema now for this crowd and it isn’t going to change. Rational arguments on points of policy by centrists and liberal hawks along with appeals to electoral self-interest by Democratic Party political pros do not merely fall on deaf ears but they evoke enraged howls of ” Republican lite” and worse by the fifty-something, MoveOn.org, ex- Deaniacs.
The left-liberals are not interested in policies that protect American security – they think our security is a problem for the rest of the planet. The perception of the American voter that the Democrats can’t be trusted on security issues is a valid one at this point in time; the left-liberals simply have too much influence in the Democratic Party to be discounted when a voter casts a ballot. It’s like discounting the power of the Christian Right on social issues when voting for a moderate Republican – party factions are political baggage.
On the other hand, these characters are aging fast and liberal hawks might do well to give up on these fools and instead cultivate a generation of recruits from college campuses today who can be the state and national party leaders of tomorrow. Something that means forming new organizations to challenge the dominance of established liberal NGO’s jealously controlled and vetted by Boomer leftists. In short, liberal hawks need to do to the Democratic Party what the young Goldwaterites did to the GOP when they took the Republicans from being the Party of Nelson Rockefeller to the Party of Ronald Reagan in just 16 years. This will incidentally, help my party as well because a quality opponent will make it less easy for GOP leaders to adopt bizarre and harmful policy positions beloved by small sects of exceptionally vocal wingnuts.
There’s a Party of Ted Kennedy just waiting to be refashioned for the 21st century.