Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Democrats' Principles are MIA

Browsing the WSJ op-eds, I spotted this howler in The Tilting Yard, "Obama Should Act Like He Won":
Democrats have massive majorities these days not because they waffle hither and yon but because their historic principles have been vindicated by events.
Say what? Principles like, control the media and you control the message? Outspend the other side on campaign ads and you can overwhelm the opposition's message? A better ground game on election day makes for victories? Promise her anything, but give her Chanel?

(oops, showing my age there...)

Classical liberal principles that this nation was founded on (e.g. life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) have precious little to do with how the Democrats have rolled up "massive majorities" in the last two election cycles. And remember that Barack Obama's coat-tails weren't nearly as long as the Democrats had hoped: neither chamber has the size of Democratic majority of the 95th Congress that came in with Jimmy Carter in 1977.

In October 2006, Sebastian Mallaby penned "A Party Without Principles" in the Washington Post. Key graf:
[T]he infuriating thing about the Democrats is that, just a decade ago, they knew how to empathize with voters' economic insecurities without collapsing into irresponsibility; they combined attractively progressive social policies with sensible pro-market fiscal responsibility. Now many in the party have lost interest in this necessary balance. If the Democrats win a measure of power next month, it's hard to see what they will do with it.
Prophetic words indeed.

The online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a nice page that delves into the variations of classic vs new liberalism and their historic roots.