The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Is there a stealth liberal problem?

The amazement seemed to be nearly universal: that a hall full of Dem activists who skew well to the left of Kerry (according to the Boston Globe poll) should maintain in plain sight of media representatives more or less throughout the conference the sort of discipline usually seen only in the Spanish Riding School in Vienna [1].

One might infer a plan whereby they laid low at Boston to avoid upsetting the milquetoast swing voters needed to elect their guy; but, once we get a President-Elect Kerry, a tidal wave of demands for Red Revolution would wing his way.

I'm not clear, though, what these demands might be: getting out of Iraq, fine. Abortion, certainly. Homo-marriage - hardly anything he can do about, as Bush found.

The really radical domestic stuff - a single-payer health system, for instance - isn't really that radical. (As seen from the side of the pond.) Anything they want to nationalise, for instance? If there is, the Globe pollsters didn't think it worth asking, apparently.

But the DEWDROPs can kibitz in time and space. Just caught a snatch of Garofalo's show, interviewing Ariel Dorfman, talking about Allende and why the US decided ¡Basta! And Dorfman said as if it were the most innocent thing in the world that, when Allende decided to nationalise the mines, he decided that, since the mining companies had made more than (what he deemed to be) a fair return for years, the excess profits would be deducted from the compensation paid.

So far as I could tell when the stream went phut, Janeane and Sam were lapping it up.

Lefty nostalgia is a bit like the brand formerly (?) engaged in by Southern whites: for the cavaliers of the white-porticoed mansions, sipping mint juleps supplied by an impeccably loyal white-haired old butler.

Bush as a hate figure is potent enough; but he and his K Street Project cronies are scarcely a match for the fascist dictators (those blissful years of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact excepted!), and the likes of Franco and Pinochet after the war. Black hats and white hats, no Messing with Mr In-Between.

Besides, marching shoulder to shoulder to the barricades with Allende, one doesn't stand to lose one's candidate any votes; or need to do any actual marching. And the whole thing can turn out to be a win for the good guys. ¡Viva la revolución!

My (evidently barely formed and unresearched) hypothesis, therefore, is that the stealth liberals (if they appear in force after the election) could do no harm [3], and might even do good - what about a move on mandatory minimum sentences, say? Or (assuming it lapses), getting the assault rifle ban back?

Or getting Kerry to junk the War on Drugs? Now, that would be a worthy cause for radicals to put their shoulders to - the main benefit going to groups, at home and abroad, dear to their hearts - but with big financial savings to offer to Mr Fiscally Prudent.

To the extent it needs legislation, it's a druther - even if the Dems won the trifecta in November, there would never be enough votes for cloture on any such bill - so no Dem senator would have to face the nightmare of a vote on passage.

The foreign element to the War should be a different matter: surely no law compels USG to fumigate coca fields in the Andes? On the other hand, top Kerry foreign affairs adviser Rand Beers is part of the War on Drugs establishment [4].

Radicals, pick your druthers! You can't do anything now for the guys who bought it in the Pinochet coup: but you can at least do something to try and stop your president in 2005 inflicting misery on folks south of the border in aid of a crazy, unwinnable fantasy 'war'.

  1. That little indiscretion with Walrus of Hate Al Sharpton excepted. Serious anthropology to be done about that!

  2. There was a similar suspicion when the UK Labour Party ceased to be a rabble, in the mid-90s with the advent of Tony Blair. Didn't happen. Would doing a little socialism at home have drained the do-gooding swamp in Blair's psyche that led to those adventures in Kosovo and Iraq (twice)? Who knows...

  3. Affirmative action aside: and Bush pretty much laid down and died on that issue. The action should be at state level - there's an initiative in Michigan, I think - so perhaps Kerry might be pressed to take countervailing action.

  4. As discussed in a series of pieces here, linked from the latest on June 17.

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