THE SIGN OF A PARTY ON THEIR WAY TO OBLIVION
As erratic as the Bush administration execution has been in Iraq, the Republicans at least do not have this problem:
“House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said yesterday that Democrats should not seek a unified position on an exit strategy in Iraq, calling the war a matter of individual conscience and saying differing positions within the caucus are a source of strength for the party.
Pelosi said Democrats will produce an issue agenda for the 2006 elections but it will not include a position on Iraq. There is consensus within the party that President Bush has mismanaged the war and that a new course is needed, but House Democrats should be free to take individual positions, she sad.
“There is no one Democratic voice . . . and there is no one Democratic position,” Pelosi said in an interview with Washington Post reporters and editors. “
A “source of strength” ? Give me a break. The antiwar wingnut, DailyKOS contingent are ready to lynch Joe Lieberman and Joe Biden and pelt Hillary with rotten eggs. That kind of fratricidal feeling is a sign of strength ? Shades of the Whigs in 1852 and 1856. And the Democratic Party itself in 1860. Can you imagine Pelosi or any other top Democrat saying that Abortion, Gun Control or Tax cuts ” were a matter of individual conscience” ?
The Democratic Party is torn on foreign policy itself, not just the war in Iraq. And they are torn because a significant part of the activist base are ideologically motivated by the New Left critique of America from the Vietnam War era that views the United States as fundamentally unjust, racist, imperialist and illegitimate. They view Bush as a war criminal, the attacks of 9/11 as just deserts or at least an understandable Muslim response to U.S. support for Israel. They hope for an American defeat and sometimes call for it openly. To them events today are to be viewed and analyzed through the prism of the politics of the long-ago 1960’s antiwar movement.
This stance puts them at odds with those Democratic activists who are ” party regulars” interested in winning elections and at least half of the rank and file Democratic voters ( to say nothing of independents, moderate Republicans and conservatives). When Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago blasted Illinois Senator and Democratic whip Richard Durbin’s ” gulag ” comments it was because Daley the political boss knew that while such remarks might please Hollywood, Manhattan liberals and readers of The Nation, they didn’t play well in Peoria. Senator Durbin, with a relatively safe seat, was playing to national party activists, not to voters back home but eventually he backed down and apologized rather than cross the powerful Daley machine.
There is however, no equivalent to the Daley machine in the national Democratic Party. The left-wing extremists can and do censor the internal party debate required to formulate innovative Democratic positions for national security and foreign policy. Hence, the situational paralysis that Pelosi was trying to spin into a positive.
A major political party that cannot bring itself to speak at all on a fundamental component of national policy because of deep internal divisions is not just a party that is going to lose elections.
It is a party that is going to split.