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May 6, 2005

I just checked in.............

-- by John Emerson

After a week of almost no web surfing, I checked in with Matt Yglesias and what do I see but this:

Roughly speaking, I wonder whether there are enough left-populists left inside the Democratic Party for this to be a viable politics. It may be that too many of left-populism's possible constituents have already moved into the Republican sphere or into apathy for this to work.

Matt was talking about whether a populist could win in the Democratic primaries, but along the way he seems to admit that there are actually a lot of populist voters out there, but that they're not Democrats any more.

He doesn't suggest that if the Democrats learned to speak to these alienated (or Republican) populist voters, they might actually win an election now and then. Like a significant (controlling) fraction of the Democratic Party, Matt would rather lose with a neoliberal than win with a populist.

The commenters on the thread were as bad as Matt (with a few exceptions, including Camille Roy who sometimes posts here.)

Back to retirement I go.

Posted by John Emerson at May 6, 2005 8:20 PM

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Tracked on May 10, 2005 8:33 AM


Why bother with Democrats?

There are real, substantive differences between the parties but what they have in common far outweighs those differences. Neither party comes close to representing the governed, and neither serves the best interests of this nation.

Kucinich - an honest progressive - found himself marginalized. When the party platform adopted a stance that 'reasonable people can disagree on the Iraq war' and Kucinich signed off on it, that sealed it to me. You can have the DNC.

My vote for Kerry was quite possibly the last vote for a Democrat I'll cast, which will leave me with nobody - nobody at all - to vote for on the ballot for most positions (local, state, federal).

If I don't vote for these people, does that mean I'm apathetic or does it mean I care so much that I can't bring myself to vote for candidates who's positions I find disgusting?

Posted by: Michael Miller at May 7, 2005 7:58 AM

If I were forced to read Yglesias or Drum every day, I'd go insane or kill myself. DO NOT READ THEM. THEY WILL ROT YOUR SOUL.

Posted by: richard at May 7, 2005 9:02 AM

I took a week off and then just checked back in.

It's sort of a truism that the party militants are always frozen out when the decision is made, since elections are won in the center, wherever the center might be. So the "moderates" are in charge, and they don't even link to us.

The Democrats have been losing. They could do better if they found some new economic-populist voters, and it's really doable, but if that happened the present party leadership would be gone. They're big fish / small pond guys, and if the Democrats win solidly, they lose. And the money people, as far as I know, are not friendly to populism.

Posted by: John Emerson at May 7, 2005 10:09 AM

Michael Miller:

There are good reasons to stick with Democrats. First and foremost: creating a new party is prohibitively expensive, see Ross Perot and incredibly difficult. I think working on the inside is a better plan, as much of the Demo philosophy I share. But I too want to see the Democrats nominate a genuine populist. We need it so bad in this country. And I am more sanguine than others in thinking it's possible. There just might be a smart candidate out there who gets it too. I haven't given up hope, although I am pretty close to despair.

Posted by: Sean-Paul Kelley at May 7, 2005 10:32 AM

I agree with Sean-Paul, I really can't see a third party accomplishing anything. I imagine that if there are elections in 2006 and 2008, I'll vote for the Democrats. But I don't think that they're prepared for what Bush has up his sleeve. We're less than four months into his second term. He has lots of time to do the dirty.

Mostly I'm just planning my own life in terms of learning to live with defeat.

The establishment Democrats are gloating about Schiavo, DeLay, and the Social Security thing, and just plan to cruise on in with business as usual.

All of them are personally best off when Democratic moderates are making deals with Republican moderates in order to freeze out the Democratic left, so they don't want to change anything. they seem to be going to work on Dean.

Posted by: John Emerson at May 7, 2005 12:11 PM

Amazing. I just got the second link of my career from Yglesias.

Posted by: John Emerson at May 7, 2005 6:37 PM

I don't like it any more than you, but the structural disadvantage would be so great for a third party to overcome that it would be much more feaasible to change the Democratic party from within. The thing to remember is that the Democrats and the Republican parties don't actually stand for anything enduring and for all time. They swap policy positions all the time, because their ultimate goal is to win elections.

Posted by: Battlepanda at May 7, 2005 10:01 PM

Oh, and Hi, John. I had no idea you post here as well as your idiocentrism site. Good to know.

Posted by: Battlepanda at May 7, 2005 10:05 PM

I forget who said that Matt would make a good Republican one day.

Posted by: The Fixer at May 8, 2005 3:08 AM

well, whoever the fuck said it he was wrong...Matt makes a good Republican now.

If Bushco keeps getting away with what he is doing now a new party, or a new democrat party will create itself from the fury of opposing Bushco.

Either that...or the Republic is lost. A real possibility

Posted by: jon st at May 8, 2005 4:06 AM

If the Democrats are hopeless and a 3rd party will not work, why not work from within the Republicans?

The Republicans already play to populism more than the Democrats. Of course the Republicans' populism is astro-turfed, gestural/token, or merely verbal. There may be a space in to which Reagan Democrat/Social gospel types could inject other sorts of populisms into Republican debates. On the other hand, the Republican Party seems to be run out of Rove's office, so I dunno how if this is possible.

The ultimate aim would be to degrade the Republican 'brand' and force voters to consider candidates individually rather than by party affiliation, thus destroying the two party system. Mwaaahahahahaha.

Posted by: che at May 10, 2005 12:27 PM

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