Monday, August 06, 2007

What is the Center-Left?

Ryan over at JokersToTheRight was inquisitive about center-left ideology and whether or not it represents more or less a monolith of ideas.

While one type of candidate tends to do well, I would argue that the modern Democratic Party is made up of a coalition with many divergent ideas and origins, and that much like the Republicans, different special interest groups tug at and influence the individual candidates in various ways.

The modern Democratic Party is what remains of Roosevelt’s New Deal coalition; much of the unifying ideology is the notion that government has the power and obligation to help its citizens in times of need. The 1960s and the Vietnam War led to an awkward alliance of anti-war leftist and the traditional bigger government liberals, though Johnson’s approval of the civil rights legislation marked an end to the unity of the party in the south as so-called “Dixicrats” left in mass numbers.

Today, many Democrats are party members for topical reasons; the main division presently comes between economic and social liberals; even within these groups there are sub-divisions. There are some “liberals” who have the libertarian bent; government should leave both the economy and our private lives alone. Others would be fine with a sales tax of 70% but tons of social services for everyone, much like Sweden. We have union activists along with Clintonian free-traders, and rarely if ever will those sides agree. Socially, we have some who believe the government should actively protect its citizens while others believe that it should leave them alone. We have Christians who support government assistance to the poor while opposing the death penalty, war, and abortion all at the same time on moral grounds. We also have other anti-war and even anti-establishment types out there as well, though most believe in strong national defense, support the military, and work strongly for veteran’s benefits

Most people are a kind of hodge-podge of these ideologies, as reflected in the candidates; most in the 2008 field are “in the middle” on many of these issues, as are many of the Republicans. Especially in the post-Bush and Clinton era, I’m not certain what a traditional Democrat OR Republican believes any more. It should be interesting to see where the Democrats and the Republicans head with the choices for 2008; it could be a crowded center, especially if Bloomberg joins the fray, leaving room for extreme candidates on both sides that could further complicate the national electoral picture.


Blogger The Multitaskenator said...

Great post! Thanks!


11:29 PM  

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