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Could we wait until we've won a few elections to criticize the parliamentary method and elevate the individualist model?

Antiquated Tory

...especially since we're looking at a likely troop stepdown and withdrawal plan for Iraq just in time for next year's mid-terms?


Uh, I don't necessarily agree with Mark on this, but I think it's safe to day he's not longing for a return of nativist lynchings (if that's what you're getting at). I'm just as creeped out as anyone by the militiristic tendencies taking hold around the country, but I'm far from distraught.

bama wendell

Thanks Mark for your always thoughtful and stimulating posts.
I agree that a parliamentary party/message discipline model ill fits the present and future Democratic party. The issue that I struggle with is how to push back against Republican rhetoric that effectively defines the Democrats on a national level. Perhaps "brilliant constituent politicians" provide the talent necessary to grow national leaders, but once on the national stage those locally cultivated players are typically defined by what is effectively a parliamentary debate in which Republican message discipline has established terms favoring its continuing national electoral success. Those terms (Dems as elitist/big gov't/weak on national defense) have provided a series of small majority national Republican victories that reflect less an endorsement of the victors' policies than a rejection of the opponents they so effectively define as unacceptable.
Democrats' necessary efforts to define themselves more positively encourages a parliamentary distillation of many voices into a coherent and consistent national message. I doubt, however, that this model will work, Dems' rights-activists agendas tending against discipline (or is that only further evidence of how effectively Republicans have set the terms of debate?).
I defer to Mark's knowledge of the achievements of the class of '74, but from far away that seems a somewhat lost generation, from which I cannot define much national leadership (and who arguably in their--admittedly--late political maturity lost the congress in '94, not to mention five of the last eight presidential elections). I fear we recall '74 too fondly, as Republican corruption again finally defines our opponents negatively enough that perhaps a national victory is within reach. The pity is that such a victory may be as hollow as that of '74, with less achieved at a policy level than by the Republicans after '80, '94, '00, and '02.
Democrats lack a governance model they can champion--the one defined by the New Deal/Great Society has not been entirely discredited by Republican rhetoric, but what in heaven's name was that "bridge to the 21st century" anyway? Meek, vague, feel good rhetoric will win few votes (except when many of your opponents are under indictment), and worse will inspire little policy action that encourages re-election.
Will winning governance models emerge from parliamentery/message discipline exercises? Judging from the broken model deployed by the Republicans, I don't think so--the inevitable failure of lowering taxes while broadening governmental commitments is becoming plainer by the day.
The old Democratic Party anti-federal tradition provides greater hope, and I look to Democrats that govern locally, not legislate nationally, governors, not senators. If there is a silver lining to minority status in Washington, it is that we don't have to defend congressional action, which for generations defined the Democrats, and provided Reagan Republicans with the hoary anecdotes that defined Dems as favoring big, intrusive government.
The limits of acting locally disciplines our politicians, and our politics. The local and traditional will call to some minds specters of 'strange fruit' and nativism, but conversely, local work also enforces a sense of responsibility to the whole. At the national scale abstract debates dominate, and tend to identify national leadership as "out of touch". Successful mayors and governors will most likely establish our winning politics.

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