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Party Shift?

July 30th, 2004 Posted in Politics

In listening to John Kerry last night, I was not suprised by the centrist nature of his speech. George Bush and Karl Rove believe that they can win elections by appealing to their conservative core, and this has so infuriated the left that they are determined to replace Bush. This means that they will throw all their support behind Kerry, no matter how centrist he claims to be during the campaign, and that means Kerry and Edwards can make a strong play for the center without worrying about losing their liberal core. And the truth is, the center is wide open; at this point it is difficult to make an argument for the compassionate conservatism of Bush’s administration.

However, I did find of particular interest some of policies espoused by my own party. For example, since when have the liberals in this country “gone to war only when we have to”? The truth is, under Clinton the U.S. went to war twice because we wanted to; we felt it was our social obligation to end the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia as well as the suffering in Somalia. The conservatives opposed our entry into these places, even with UN support, because they believed it is not the place of the US to nation-build. The left has so emphatically opposed the Iraq war (as do I) because the reasons behind it were false, but tangled specifics of Iraq aside, shouldn’t the left be supporting the removal of a facist dictator, even if it’s on the other side of the world? After all, Bush is the one who sat at the presidential debate in 2000 and insisted that we should mind our own business, and I remember watching that and thinking “I disagree”.

Another interesting plank in the Democratic platform this campaign has been job protectionism. I understand that the left is anti-big business, but I find it perplexing that the Democrats are suddenly in favor of tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas, and are chastising Bush for the removal of steel tariffs. Shouldn’t traditional liberal position be that jobs moved to India mean less poverty in India? Redistribution of wealth is a vital part of globalization; without it we get a poverty divide and more class struggle; or isn’t that the progressive viewpoint? My own job is most likely on the front-line of the outsourcing issue, and I still believe that just because an American doesn’t get the job doesn’t mean that everybody loses. Obviously this is not black-and-white; the lack of labor laws in many poorer nations leads to bad job conditions and worker abuse, but it seems to me the way to fix that problem is to make sure workers are well treated, wherever the jobs are.

Are on the verge of a party shift? They seem to happen every 50 years or so, so I guess we’re about due. Don’t get me wrong; I certainly still think the donkey is far more liberal than the elephant, I just wonder if we are looking at the first steps in a new dance.

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