I'm a Democrat, and I believe that I will always be a Democrat: Richard Nixon's decision that the appropriate reaction to Lyndon Johnson's commitment to Civil Rights was to turn the Republican Party into The Party for People Who Don't Like Black People was a sufficiently evil action to make it next to impossible for me to think of situations in which I would vote Republican (and it may well have destroyed the soul of the Republican Party). But I would be happy to build bipartisan coalitions from the center outward, based on what policies are likely to work and achieve agreed-on long-run prosperity and security. I would, that is, if there were grownup Republicans to be found…
Then he offers a thumbnail analysis of the Democrats' fortunes:
In my view, the Democratic Party is doing OK in an age of high income and wealth inequality. The rich are spending lots of money to brainwash the rest, and the Democrats have to hold on against that tide. The Democratic Party is doing OK given its extraordinary success over the past two generations in pushing social equality and liberty—for African-Americans, women, homosexuals, Hispanics… pretty much anyone who isn't white and male—faster and further than large components of the electorate are comfortable with. Twenty-seven percent of Americans still disapprove of interracial marriage. They aren't going to vote Democratic. That's a powerful Republican base.
The real catastrophe in today's America is what has happened to the Republican Party. Fixing that is job #1.
I'm more in agreement with the last paragraph than the one above it. The GOP used to have some virtues: being for a balanced budget, for example (one carried to excess, perhaps, as it failed to be at all attuned to the business cycle). Now it spends like the proverbial drunken sailor in order to give tax breaks and contracts to kleptocrats and multi-millionaires.
But that doesn't mean that the Democrats are doing OK. They have failed to understand that the GOP plays by harsher rules than it did even in Nixon's day. And that the the Fairness Doctrine — which was not without problems, I'd be the first to admit — has been replaced by an Unfairness Doctrine which is poisoning public life. And to the extent that Democrats get this, they react by running scared.
The Durbin escapade — apologizing for remarks that were accurate — is a sign of the Democrats' problem. Howard Dean — on good days — is one path out of the mire (Howard Dean on bad days is proof he couldn't have been elected President….).