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Liberals look to recapture White House (NOT BLOODY LIKELY ALERT)
The Financial Times ^ | December 27, 2002 | Michael Lind

Posted on 12/27/2002 4:40:30 AM PST by MadIvan

In the aftermath of Al Gore's  decision not to run again for president in 2004, many liberals hope that a better standard-bearer can lead the Democratic party to recapture the White House and perhaps Congress as well. But a different face at the top of the ticket, by itself, cannot compensate for the advantages American conservatism has over American liberalism in the areas of party, movement, media and message.

The Republican party today, having purged most of its liberal and moderate members, is a streamlined, authoritarian organisation dominated by its right wing. The decision of the conservative Republican Senate majority to dump one of their own, Trent Lott, as their leader, following the furore over his recent praise of the segregationist presidential candidacy of Strom Thurmond in 1948, provides further proof of the party's discipline and sense of long-term strategy.

The Republican party is backed by a nationwide, grass-roots conservative movement of which the southern Protestant religious right is the most important constituency but not the only one. In addition to having a constellation of partisan magazines and quarterlies, the conservative movement has its own daily newspapers - The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times - and its own media organisation in the form of Rupert Murdoch's Fox News.

The message of the mainstream right is consistent and coherent: the so-called "fusionist" synthesis of free-market economics, social conservatism and support for US military action abroad. There are tensions, to be sure. Many working-class fundamentalists distrust big business, while many members of the Republican business elite are liberal in their attitudes towards sex and abortion. But Republican strategists manage these tensions so that they do not disrupt the party.

If American conservatism is a battering-ram, American liberalism is the Tower of Babel. There is nothing to the left of centre in American politics that can parallel the co-ordination of party, movement, media and message on the American right.

Unlike its Republican rival, the Democratic party is fragmented among factions with incompatible philosophies and goals: protectionist, pro- labour "Old Democrats"; business-friendly, Clinton-style "New Democrats"; anti-war isolationists; and bellicose "humanitarian hawks". Instead of a coherent American liberal movement corresponding to the American conservative movement, there are only a number of distinct single-issue movements - feminism, environmentalism, multiculturalism - combined with special-interest economic groups such as teachers' unions and plaintiffs' lawyers.

Nor, in spite of conservative complaints, is there an organised "liberal media elite", disseminating a party line in the manner of the rightwing media complex. While most editors, producers and journalists at serious newspapers and the big networks are liberal Democrats, they feel obliged to demonstrate their neutrality by giving equal time to conservative opinions - even though liberal points of view are seldom if ever aired in the conservative media. The radical multiculturalists, feminists, Greens and diehard socialists who make up the tiny but vocal counter- cultural left spend as much of their time denouncing centrist liberals as they do combating conservatives.

Where its message is concerned, American liberalism is at an even greater disadvantage. During the New Deal era of the 1930s to the 1960s, liberals had a coherent view of national identity, the economy and foreign policy. The US was a melting-pot nation with a welfare-capitalist economy opposed to the expansion of the axis powers and the communist bloc. This New Deal consensus unravelled in the 1960s as a result of controversies over racial integration and the Vietnam war. For more than three decades, no new "grand narrative" has been able to unite the centre-left in the US.

In the realm of national identity, most influential black and Latino activists reject the ideal of a colour-blind American melting-pot, preferring instead a vision of the US as a Yugoslav-style federation of several "nationalities", with compensatory privileges for non-whites. Libertarians on the left condemn even reasonable anti-terrorist measures and after September 11 2001 liberal intellectuals in the US debated whether public displays of patriotism were fascistic.

In addition to ceding American patriotism to the right, liberals have been unable to agree on an economic philosophy. The robust state capitalism of the 1930s - symbolised by hydroelectric power plants and interstate highways - gave way between the 1940s and the 1970s to a technocratic Keynesianism that identified liberalism with macroeconomic management and social welfare programmes.

This Keynesian orthodoxy broke down in the 1970s. Since then, liberal economic thought has been divided among neo-Keynesians, industrial- policy advocates and neoliberals, who are almost indistinguishable from free-market conservatives. The fact that these bickering factions tend to agree only on preserving welfare-state programmes is another godsend to the right, which can claim that liberals focus on the redistribution of income and wealth while conservatives have a plan for economic growth in the form of tax cuts.

In foreign policy, the centre-left shows similar fissures. A small but vocal minority of Democratic policymakers supports the militant unilateralism of the Bush administration. But the majority of American liberals is divided between traditional liberal internationalism and a powerful strain of anti-military isolationism that is particularly strong among black people and in parts of New England and the Midwest.

All this disunity means that the return of the Democrats to power would not necessarily mean a liberal renaissance. A cohesive conservative minority could enter into opportunistic alliances with different Democratic factions on different issues, in order to create a de facto "conservative coalition" such as the alliance of Republicans and conservative Democrats that dominated Congress in the 1950s.

It took decades for American liberalism to dig itself into this hole. It will take a long time to climb out - no matter which party wins the White House and Congress in 2004.

The writer is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and the author of Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: District of Columbia
KEYWORDS: liberals; pipedream; us
I read this and smiled. Hope you do too.

Regards, Ivan


1 posted on 12/27/2002 4:40:30 AM PST by MadIvan
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To: BigWaveBetty; widgysoft; Da_Shrimp; BlueAngel; JeanS; schmelvin; MJY1288; terilyn; Ryle; ...
Bump!
2 posted on 12/27/2002 4:40:49 AM PST by MadIvan
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To: MadIvan
Michael Lind used to be a conservative before becoming a liberal. But he doesn't hold out any hope for a viable Left Wing movement in the United States. Which is cold water thrown upon Democratic hopes for a comeback after the near loss of 2000.
3 posted on 12/27/2002 4:45:35 AM PST by goldstategop
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To: MadIvan
Nor, in spite of conservative complaints, is there an organised "liberal media elite", disseminating a party line

I partly agree with the author here. I don't think the leftwing media is an 'organised' effort. I believe their liberal bias simply comes natural to them.

4 posted on 12/27/2002 5:06:43 AM PST by 11th Earl of Mar
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To: MadIvan
Reading the different articles posted on FR, the only thing in which the liberals appear to be united is calling the conservatives a bunch of racists. After that, they don't have anything else to say; and that is not going to put them back in the White House or in power. I am still laughing how the Trent Lott episode blew up in their face.
5 posted on 12/27/2002 5:21:38 AM PST by Gatún(CraigIsaMangoTreeLawyer)
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To: MadIvan
Thanks for the ping. A good read, and yes I smiled, too.
6 posted on 12/27/2002 5:38:07 AM PST by cardinal4
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: Gatún(CraigIsaMangoTreeLawyer)
The left did not understand that we hard core conservatives wanted Chester Lott gone more than they did. Once they realized that they were going to lose their whipping post, guys like John Lewis("Their coming for our children")started accepting Chester's apology. Too Late! HaHa.
8 posted on 12/27/2002 5:58:12 AM PST by tom paine 2
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To: 11th Earl of Mar
If anyone thinks that the Borking of Trent Lott happened "naturally" without a coordinated effort by various media outlets, they're a bit naive.

There is a lot of reflexive cant in the leftist media, but they definitely know the meaning of teamwork.

9 posted on 12/27/2002 6:02:57 AM PST by wideawake
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To: TonyRo76
I can't help but wonder how different things would be if we hadn't drifted away from the concepts of the Constitution. We now see a bunch of thieves arguing over which way to steal the next year's profits or labor and who to give it to. As we drift further into this abyss, the more violent and vindictive the arguments become and the less united the nation becomes.
10 posted on 12/27/2002 6:07:07 AM PST by meenie
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To: MadIvan
I sense a lot of anger at the "streamlined, purged-of-moderates Republican party," and frustration at the "Tower of Babel" Democrats. WOW! Does this writer ever show his partisanship! LOL!
Thanks for posting it!
11 posted on 12/27/2002 6:18:11 AM PST by maica
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To: wideawake
Lott's out. Now, let's get back to business.
12 posted on 12/27/2002 6:20:47 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: wideawake
If anyone thinks that the Borking of Trent Lott happened "naturally" without a coordinated effort by various media outlets, they're a bit naive.

If anyone thinks that the newsrooms of Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and Tom Browkaw called each other and jointly decided to alternate a volley of attacks against Trent Lott is being naive.

Trent Lott had simply made himself too large of a target that no liberal could pass it up and the media could only fall all over themselves trying to get the Republican.

13 posted on 12/27/2002 6:26:18 AM PST by 11th Earl of Mar
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To: MadIvan
The Republican party today, having purged most of its liberal and moderate members

Yeah, they really did Mr. Jeffords in, didn't they! Susan Collins gets a committee chairmanship when she gets purged.

Wish it (the purging) were true, but I don't think so.

14 posted on 12/27/2002 6:29:59 AM PST by Tom Bombadil
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To: MadIvan

I think this fellow is trying to be commendably honest in cataloging the difficulties facing the American left. He seems to understand that fairly well. His ignorance of the right peeks through occasionally, and to some degree spoils his analysis.

He has that "all those conservatives look alike to me" blindness that we see so often on the left; where he sees a coherent and united -- even authoritarian -- right marching to victory shorn of its moderates, we see a party full of RINOs. And if he thinks the Republican response to the Trent Lott fiasco was "coherent," I'd like to see his version of incoherence.

One gets the sense that his knowledge of the Wall Street Journal and the Fox News Network is limited to information provided to him by Tom Daschle and Al Gore. He states that "liberal points of view are seldom if ever aired in the conservative media," which is touching in its victimism but hardly truthful. Except for its editorial page, the WSJ is the same, basically liberal, newspaper that the Washington Post is. Fox News, as we all know, has NPR reporters -- about as liberally biased a news organization as exists in the U.S. -- as regular participants in its discussion programs. Many on the left seem genuinely shocked that conservative opinions are aired in the media at all, so when they see it on Fox, they assume this must be "bias." They deny the reality that the liberal was sitting there right alongside.

In a similar vein, Mr. Lind repeats the now-tiresome canard concerning "the militant unilateralism of the Bush administration." It appears to have become de rigeur on the left to describe anything Bush does internationally as "unilateral." Those unanimous votes in the UN Security Council are to be pretended away, as if they never existed. The danger in this of course is that it leads self-fooling leftists to believe that there is an open position on the playing field that they can occupy; they'll be the guys who get UN backing for their actions. We saw how well that worked in November; the public was not fooled, even if the leftists had fooled themselves.


15 posted on 12/27/2002 6:48:24 AM PST by Nick Danger
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To: MadIvan
While most editors, producers and journalists at serious newspapers and the big networks are liberal Democrats, they feel obliged to demonstrate their neutrality by giving equal time to conservative opinions

Bwahahahaha!!!!!

16 posted on 12/27/2002 7:00:32 AM PST by PLK
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To: MadIvan
The Republican party today, having purged most of its liberal and moderate members, is a streamlined, authoritarian organisation dominated by its right wing.

Yeah, I wish. This guy’s an idiot.

17 posted on 12/27/2002 7:12:27 AM PST by dead
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To: MadIvan
In the realm of national identity, most influential black and Latino activists reject the ideal of a colour-blind American melting-pot, preferring instead a vision of the US as a Yugoslav-style federation of several "nationalities", with compensatory privileges for non-whites.

Hoo-Hah! This from a liberal?

18 posted on 12/27/2002 7:26:31 AM PST by facedown
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Comment #19 Removed by Moderator

Comment #20 Removed by Moderator

To: MadIvan
It will be hillary in 2004
21 posted on 12/27/2002 7:56:15 AM PST by The Raven
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To: MadIvan
I thought Mr. Lind had actually spent some time in the states.
22 posted on 12/27/2002 8:29:38 AM PST by gitmo
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To: MadIvan
While most editors, producers and journalists at serious newspapers and the big networks are liberal Democrats, they feel obliged to demonstrate their neutrality by giving equal time to conservative opinions...

This entire article is so replete with inaccuracies and illogical statements that it is no wonder that Mr. Lind switched from being a "conservative" to a "liberal." Being able to B/S on subjects that they are not qualified to comment on seems to be one of the left's defining characteristics.

A couple of years ago I was at the health club, on the tread mill, watching one of the early morning network shows. It may have been Good Morning America, I really don't know, nor do I care. The topic had something to do with the Republican party and after presenting the left's side of the topic, the co-hosts trotted out a political analyst to explain the Republican position. You can imagine my surprise when none other than George Stephanopoulos was introduced as just such a person.

Mr. Lind is right about both sides being presented on network news. The problem is, who is speaking for and defining the conservative side of the issue.

23 posted on 12/27/2002 8:56:13 AM PST by Texas Jack
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To: MadIvan
It was worth a smile too! Will the RATLIBS ever dig themselves out of the hole, is the question?

Answer: Not as long as we have the Klintons, Pelosis, Murrays, the Congressional Black Caucus, Carvile, Moore, the Hollyweirds, Jessie, the RINOS and the whole DNC, plus the liberal media et al, to help dig their hole even deeper. May it be so!

24 posted on 12/27/2002 10:15:03 AM PST by Paulus Invictus
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To: MadIvan
This is an excellent synopsis...
25 posted on 12/27/2002 10:24:43 AM PST by HumanaeVitae
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To: MadIvan
The Republican party today, , is a streamlined, authoritarian organisation dominated by its right wing.

I suppose Lind might make himself sound important to his relatively uninformed readers in the UK, but Americans will laugh at his Stalinist fantasy of the GOP conducting "purges" of liberal and moderate members. To the contrary, this last election was characterized by greater involvement on W's part than any other president in recent memory, and that involvement was largely on behalf of moderate Republicans such as Norm Coleman, Elizabeth Dole and even his own brother. "Streamlined, authoritarian?" The GOP is much more of a grassroots organization than the Democrats. This is reflected in the fact that the donor base of the GOP is much broader, with many more smaller individual donors than the Dems. They are the party of the elites, of the ideological purity tests that have prohibited pro-life speakers from their conventions and force virtualy all their candidates to embrace their radical agenda.

26 posted on 12/27/2002 10:53:22 AM PST by governsleastgovernsbest
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To: MadIvan
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
27 posted on 12/27/2002 7:27:32 PM PST by TommyDale
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