Saturday, March 12, 2005

Only Hillary Could Go To China

If you have enough political consciousness to read this, you're aware that we're in a deeply divided country. Heck, you're aware of the divide if you have any consciousness at all. However, there's also a divide in the Democratic National Party, the outcome of which will affect the course of our nation's politics.

I speak, of course, of the Frequently Asked Question: "How can democrats win next time?" On one hand, we have Tom Harkin, democratic senator from Iowa, who recently got fed up at fellow democrats for supporting the new republican-backed Bankruptcy bill.

"This is not where we as Democrats ought to be, for crying out loud... We are making a terrible mistake by thinking that we can have it both ways. We have to remember where our base is."
There is something to be said for sticking to principles and supporting a base. A significant portion of America still identifies with the Democratic ideas, and with a small increase in support, could win. After all, 49% of America did vote for Kerry. Core democrats feel strongly about their issues, and don't want to compromise them for the sake of winning some conservative votes. But with a two party system, candidates must move center to capture a majority. There are many people who feel the democratic party is out of touch with much of America, and needs to change in response to them (To which I once again point you to Tom Tomorrow's comic). The debate -- split off and stand by the democratic ideals or shift with the times and move center -- is crutial to ending the partisan atmosphere we currently endure. For the sake of the nation, I almost wish the democrats would move further right. If the country continues to split itself, things can only get worse.

There are a few prominent democrats trying to have their cake and eat it too: keeping their base while moving center. With some republicans endorsing Hillary Clinton, all signs point to her running for the White House soon. She has the reputation of being far left, allowing her to move further right on a number of issues while retaining her strong liberal base. Of course, she'll have opposition based on her sex, her personality, and who her husband was, but her strategy just might work.

Another democrat like her is Howard Dean in his new position as DNC chairman. He, too, has the reputation of being liberal-- dangerously so, according to the republicans. But his reputation masks his centrist views, such as his views on gun control (would you believe that he was endorsed repeatedly by the NRA?) With Dean at the helm and Hillary potentially running for president, it seems to me that the DNC is ready to make the right-ward shift. The question is how this shift will manifsest itself.

Having a country this divided is not healthy. When it gets to the point that even the News is attacked for being too partisan, things have gone far enough. While the democratic party needs to find grounds on which to compromise, I don't believe compromise is possible on many cultural issues such as gay rights. However, there is more room for bi-partisanship on economic issues, especially with more republicans speaking out against the rising deficit. In short, I applaud the democrats reaching across the aisle to support the new bankruptcy bill. I hope their effort will not go unnoticed, by either the republican party or the american people.

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