Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dangers of Habitual Centrism

Stoller touches on an important facet of centrist positioning in the Democratic Party.

There is a real "tough guy" strain in the centrist Democratic wing of the party. We saw it with the paeans to Rahm Emanuel's vulgarity after the 2006 election. We see in with only two Bush Dogs being women. We see it in calls from DLC types who wore camouflage on election day in 2006 that Democrats need to vote conservatively on national security in order to convince Americans they will keep them safe. We even saw it during an argument over Mark Warner on Open Left last month, when the masculinity of lefties was questioned several times in the comments, and winning was framed as something only macho tough guys can do better than wimpy lefties. Centrists in the party regularly portray themselves as tougher and more macho than the left wing of the party.

This is why I find it so odd, annoying, and even amusing that the same centrist wing appears so afraid all the time. Fear seems like a good word to describe centrists and conservative Democrats in Congress, both within the leadership and within certain ideological caucuses.
Obviously, Democrats in Utah wake up each day in a world very different than say, Washington's 8th District, but it is still important to remember the prevalence of fear in many of our decisions. Stoller asserts that this is holding the national party back, and he is right. Here in Utah, the fear is more practical. If we stand up too quickly, or speak too liberally, we lose elections.

Eventually, though, those dynamics change. The fear of appearing what Republicans like to call "far-left" (which in Utah is anything left of Chris Cannon) is a survival tool for Utah Democrats today. Tomorrow, it may be simply a habit that holds us back. Currently, many Democrats in districts trending more progressive have wasted their opportunity, and are facing primary challenges from progressive activists as a result.

Something to pay close attention to, as we take back our state.


  1. Jim Hightower may have said it best: "There's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos."

  2. When a member of Congress follows Bush off a cliff and violates his oath to support and defend the Constitution, that ought to be an indication he needs to be replaced.