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Marc Schneider

The Dems who want to emulate the Republicans are making false analogies. The assumption is that, if it worked for the Republicans, it will work for the Democrats. So, if the GOP plays to its base, so should the Democrats, etc. But there are problems with the analygy. I assumes that the electoral situations for Democrats and Republicans are symmetrical. IMO, they are not.

First, it's not clear to me that the Republicans really do force ideological consistency. They do allow some flexibility so that Republican candidates can move toward the center in blue states. And there are some Republican moderates in Congress who have broken with the White House. And there certainly are differences between religious/social conservatives, such as Gary Bauer, and libertarain/business conservatives. In fact, I have seen suggestions that Bauer is far from enamored with the GOP economic agenda. But they stay together because they hate the Democrats more.

Second, even if it's true about the GOP, that doesn't necessarily mean the same strategy would work for the Democrats. For one thing, the GOP already controls the White House which gives the GOP an organizing principle around which to gather. Since the Democrats don't have that, I'm not sure what the benefit would be of some sort of ideological rigidity, especially since, with the GOP controlling Congress, the Democrats are in no position to pass legislation. For another thing, the GOP starts off with a huge and ideologically homogenous base in the South and Midwest, particularly the religious conservatives. Regardless of what Rove does or does not do, I think it's this base that enforces the ideological consistency of the Republicans. They can make Republican candidates pay, but more importantly, they can also deliver the winning margins to candidates. I don't think the Democrats really have that ability because the blue states are much less blue than the red states are red.

It's not clear to me how, without the weapons that the WH possesses and without the ability to deliver winning margins, how the Democrats (or, in reality, the left) could hold Democratic members accountable. Politicians are going to go where their self-interest lies and, the fact is, since liberals aren't going to vote for Republicans, I don't see what realistic threats the left has to keep Democrats in line.

This is, of course, aside from the fact that sectarian politics like this is offensive to most people and offensive to the free interplay of ideas, which liberals ostensibly value.

Tad Brennan

Yeah, I always thought Stevenson lost because of the neutered barnyard animal vote. Damn shame, too.

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