The Democrats are doing nothing wrong
It's important to view the Democrats' behavior in two ways: (1) in an absolute sense; and (2) in a context-based sense.
In an absolute sense, the Democrats are doing nothing wrong. They are simply trying to preserve their jobs to the greatest extent possible in a country that, for a number of reasons, right now has an easily confused electorate that is not very good at critical thinking. A large number of Americans want cognitively dissonant aims: balanced budgets combined with lower taxes and expansive social services; good schools and science combined with an inability to publicly challenge religion; there are many other examples that can be found in just five or ten minutes of brainstorming. Trying to lead such an electorate is an extremely difficult task, and points to one of the major difficulties with having a successful democracy over the long term.
In the context of the current political climate, the Democrats could do a better job of pleasing their base, but the fact is that the United States continues to have a mentality shaped by the frontier experience and Horatio Alger. We think that if things aren't working, we should just be able to pick up and move west, maybe kill some Native Americans, and start over. The idea is that we can all be self-made people, if we're just willing to do whatever it takes. Unfortunately, the world seems to be currently trending away from this reality (if it ever really was true), but people can't hear difficult truths until they've hit bottom and become teachable, and the American people are not ready/willing/able to digest reality. So, the Democrats will pour money into elections, try to hang on to whatever they can, and continue to resemble their ideological opponents because the current campaign finance system forces everyone to sell themselves out.
More is possible, but in order for it to happen, the country needs to evolve. Most leaders act out of a sense of self-preservation, and will only do what the people allow them to do. Every once in a while, an enlightened leadership can bring a people to a better place, but in a center-right country like the United States that is trying to hang on to its crumbling economy, empire and sense of status, people are probably too ignorant and scared to allow this to happen.
Oct 31 2010 - 2:34pm