I am tired of reading articles - since Gov. Dean's election as DNC chair - that keep talking about how this was about moderates vs. left-wingers, and how the "moderate" wing of the Democratic party is now worried because of Dean's liberalism. In answer, I say this: the DNC chair is not a leftist, he is a populist.
This Times Online article
is a great representation of how pathetic the right wing media - and the right wingers in the media - are. Describing Howard Dean as an "ardent secularist" is so out of the blue that it's hard to understand if it's a pre-planned lie or just a Dumb & Dumber statement. No one has talked more about the need for Democrats to reach out to the religious community; no one has more forcefully inserted that the Democratic values are far more consistent with religious morality than the Republican divide and conquer politics. Then the article makes a carefully crafted statement of lie; that Howard Dean made clear that the future of the party lies with liberal activists rather than moderate Washington establishment. Now there is little one can say at first look, but the fact that they are calling the Washington Democratic establishment "moderate" speaks to the media's spin machine. Howard Dean's victory is a victory of the activists over the establishment; but not all activists are flaming liberals, and the establishment is insane (literally; they keep doing the same exact thing over and over and expect a different result every time), not moderate. But the people on the ground doing the work deserve to have a better organization and to be rewawrded for their hard work. The people deserve a voice in their government. And the people who built the Democratic party deserve to have the party stand for and with them, not run away from them.
Moderation does not mean taking 27 different positions in 22 weeks; it doesn't mean running around trying to take a position that offends nobody. Let me give you an example of what that kind of media type moderation shows up in articulating a vision: Children are precious so we must help them do everything they can and achieve whatever they are capable of and reach their potential, so we need to spend money on education but I don't want to be called a liberal so Bush's tax cuts have to stay intact for most people and we need to provide healthcare for children but I don't yet know where to find the money; I am not raising your taxes, or yours, or yours or yours, mainly because I am afraid of losing votes. Get it? Yeah, me neither.
Moderation is about bringing people to the table, letting them offer ideas in a friendly forum instead of a hostile situation, building a result oriented approach by setting a definitive goal. Moderation is NOT about making every last person happy. It IS about finding common ground in our common humanity, and working together to solving a problem. The common ground, however, must be found within the bounds of our principles. It is NOT moderate to let Bush drill in only half of the Alaska Wild Life Refuge. It IS moderate to instead focus on conservation and alternative energy and feul (which are both common grounds). A common ground
a middle ground,
necessarily. We have to also remember that sometimes you cannot find common ground: mostly because right wingers begin from this ground: big corporate interests over the public interest. This is diametrically opposite to the founding principles of America. And trying to compromise on these kinds of stuff is not just foolish, it's dangerous for the country. Principled people and moderate leaders are not in some sort of inevitable conflict. In fact, the Democrats' favorite moderate Republican, John McCain, is a very principled (conservative, but principled) man. He finds common ground on things like the Patient's Bill of Rights and Campaign Finance Reform because he starts (on those issues) with deeply held principles, not with deep-pocketed moneyed interests.