Sunday, February 3, 2008

Progessives and centrists vie for the soul of the Democratic Party

With so many Kennedys endorsing Barack, it raises the question of the nature of the Democratic ideology.

Back in the 1960's, clearly the Democrats represented "liberalism." Carter and Clinton challenged that status quo and ushered in a more centrist ideology that did not abandon liberalism, but noted a need to give a nod to the center of American ideology.

Now, the progressives have have brought back liberalism under a new name. It was only natural for the Kennedys to associate with this ideology.

The current Democratic primary camapign is less about the personalities or their gender or their race, but has everything to do with centrist versus liberal/progressive ideology.

Personally, I would not cast Hillary as a truly diehard centrist, but as more or a pragmatic liberal. In fact, Barack is a bit of a pragmatic liberal as well, but somewhat light on the pragmatic, while Hillary is solid on core liberal but solid on pragmatic as well.

It is rather misleading to cast Hillary or centrists in general as "Bush Democrats", but that is life in politics where labels are free and easy and usually innacurate. Nonetheless, the progressives do in fact see hard-core pragmatism and centrism as "the enemy" and just as much an enemy as Bush, Cheney, and the Neo-conservatives.

Democratic voters will have to decide for themselves whether they want to go light on pragmatism or heavier on centrism. It is a close call which way they will lean.

I think that Americans overall are pragmatists, but I don't know what fraction of American voters in general or of pragmatists in particular register as Democrats.

Maybe Super Tuesday will tell us.

-- Jack Krupansky

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