Friday, November 19, 2004

This is depressing. Well, not just the prospect of a 'William J Clinton Presidential Centre and Park' but at the bottom, reports on the Democrat post-mortem of their election failure.

For some Democratic strategists, the Bill Clinton model is the only one that will bring them back the White House. This implies a candidate with centrist policies - if necessary stolen from the Republicans - and with an appeal beyond the coasts and the upper Midwest.

As strategists are only too aware, Mr Clinton's two presidential victories were made much easier by his ability to win in the centre of the country and the South. By contrast, Al Gore in 2000, and Mr Kerry this year, failed to carry a single southern state. The lesson they draw is the party must boost its appeal to the Christian community, moderating its position on social issues such as gay rights and abortion.

Precisely the wrong tack to take, if Democrats are willing to swing rightwards to try to get power they don't deserve it. 'Moderating' here being code for 'abandoning', if the big two parties are going to turn on the queer community then they'll have to consider giving their vote to someone else.

But others argue precisely the opposite... Democrats should return to first principles, offering a clear alternative to the Republicans, standing above all for the poor and the less advantaged, and not being ashamed of the label "liberal". By moving to the centre, this school maintains, the party has ceded the initiative to Republicans and lost touch with its traditions.

That's more like it. Republicans won because they stuck to their principles, Democrats lost because they abandoned theirs. If they think the answer is to take the Republican's principles for their own they should have the decency to stop pretending to stand as Democratic candidates.


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