Brendan Miniter, in an excellent editorial in the Wall Street Journal, lays out some of the reasons Democrats keep losing elections. Plain and simple, they are plumb out of ideas:
"Why do Democrats keep losing? Because they have nothing to offer by way of reform.
BY BRENDAN MINITER
Tuesday, November 16, 2004 12:01 a.m. EST
It's time to let Democrats in on a little secret. America is a land of perpetual rebirth and reform--always has been...
"What all this means for Democrats now, is that if they want to start winning elections again they need a reform agenda. Schools would be a great place for them to start. Instead of defending the status quo or trying the same old tired solution--more money--Democrats need to spend their time in the political wilderness thinking of what real reforms they can get behind."
And this brings up probably the most interesting point to ponder in our recent political history. Ever since the Clinton years it has become increasingly evident that the Democrat party has become a party hopelessly mired in the politics and emotions and culture of the swinging 60's. The heyday of their power. This was the era when all the Democrat social programs and ideas were still fresh and current. Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal had effectively introduced an American form of socialism by way of Social Security. The entirely noble and proper civil rights movements took place during these pivotal years and the vestiges of ugly discrimination and racism were at least publicly purged from our society. Schools were integrated, even if busing was perhaps not the best way to go about it. The great civil rights marches and the memorable speeches of Martin Luther King rang through the nation and riveted us as we listened in our living rooms on black and white television sets.
Then the Kennedy era promised a new day for democrats. Gone were the fusty old country club Republicans, and in came a young and vibrant President and his beautiful and stylish wife. For the first time in a long time young children ran around the White House, and for a moment American reveled (at least the Democrats did) in a new American royalty, who could hold their heads up even in the most sophisticated European capitals. Jackie took Paris by storm, and JFK famously introduced himself at a French State Dinner as "the man who accompanied Jacquelyn Kennedy to Paris". And come to think of it, perhaps this was the beginning of the Democrats fascination with being accepted by the French.
Then we had LBJ, with the War on Poverty and the tremendous expansion of the welfare state, further pushing the ambitions of Democrats, who envisioned a perfect socialism taking hold in America, where American wealth and abundance would be spread far and wide, creating the perfect model for the world to follow. They -- the Democrats -- would succeed where Stalin and Lenin had failed. A humane and perfect socialism.
Then of course an ugly fact got in the way of a beautiful idea. It was called Vietnam. Uncomfortably for the Democrats, Kennedy, their idol, had a strange aversion to Communist dictatorships, and got us involved in well-meaning, but ill-advised military adventures, the Cuban Crisis and the Bay of Pigs. And Democrats like to forget that it was Kennedy who first got America involved in Vietnam. LBJ, who campaigned on the slogan -- "I will never send our boys to fight and die in Vietnam" -- did just that, and greatly expanded the war, while at the same time tying the hands of the military and preventing them from completing the job properly. Perhaps he was the original Kerry -- he was both for and against winning the war.
And this exposed a fundamental rift in the Democrat foundation, their fundamental discomfort with wielding America's military might in the accomplishment of good in the world. A fundamental schizophrenia. How could they in all conscience be good Socialists, while militarily opposing their philosophical cousins, the Communist dicatorships of the world? Those places whose names always bore the words "People's Democratic Republic of..." -- places where you can be sure those words do not reflect either the interests of the "people", nor are they remotely "democratic" nor are they "republics".
So the Democrat party, which had been the party of Roosevelt and had fought a long and bloody war to defeat the Axis Powers in WWII, and of Truman who had dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and fought the Korean War, found itself more comfortable as the anti-war party.
Suddenly, with the failure of LBJ's Presidency, brought down by the mess he had made in Vietnam, Nixon was elected on a platform of ending the war. And suddenly it was Nixon's war. I bet if you ask any young person today, or even any Democrat, whose war was Vietnam? They would answer -- Nixon's war. Perhaps Nixon might have fought the war to a successful conclusion. But the anti-war forces, working with Communist front organizations with direct ties to the Soviets and to the North Vietnamese Communists, orchestrated the student riots opposing the war. Read David Horowitz for his riveting accounts of his activities during these times and what really went on at those organizing meetings.
And that brings us to our most recent Democrat Presidental contenders, Bill Clinton and John Kerry, and most of the journalists and academics and politicians currently making policy and laying out the Democrat agenda through various means. This was their birthing ground, the milieu which produced this generation of leaders.
This was their glorious moment in the sun. They were young, they were powerful, they were free for the first time, liberated from old ways of doing things, from sexual repression (the pill revolutionized sexual relationships). Everything got washed in a glaze of rock and roll and tie-dye shirts and jeans and pot and the general aura of revolution, anarchy and excitement. A heady mix for a young generation. Added to that was the new politics of "peace and love and justice" -- an irresistable mix of politics, drugs, lava-lamps, rock and roll, sex and power and an unshakeable belief in the rightness and correctness of their cause and their philosophy.
Both Bill Clinton and John Kerry were instrumental figures in the anti-war movement. Clinton organized anti-war rallies in England while a student at Oxford. Perhaps the time spent on organization demonstrations explains his failure to complete his Rhodes Scholarship degree. John Kerry came back from an abbreviated tour in Vietnam, where he stayed just long enough to collect the 3 Purple Hearts and you're out, and a Bronze and Silver star for good measure, and became the leader of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, making a name for himself by testifying about supposed war atrocities committed by our troops and approved by the entire chain of command, and by participating in major demonstrations. Both men had their eye on the presidency from their earliest years, and one would have thought that involving themselves in anti-government and anti-social demonstrations might not have been the best way to ensure a bright political future. But this proved to be their strongest point when it came to election time, at least for Democrats, that their generation, the pot-smoking, anti-establishment, anarchist, sexually open, socially free, intellectually and philosophically enlightened and liberated generation should finally have come to power to institute their flower power reforms from the top down. They were the annointed who would lead the people to the promised land of Socialist Utopia.
For fundamentally this generation had only changed on the outside and taken on the trappings of civilization. In their hearts still beat the rhythms of Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix and the Stones. The memories of Woodstock were still strong. In their hearts they were still young. And Peter Paul and Mary were not old and fat and faintly embarrassing when they sang "Puff, the Magic Dragon" -- but powerful echoes of their vibrant youth, the days of protest and rage, the days when everything was possible. And Kerry happily bopped his head to the old tunes as the aged stars twanged out the old hits, and Kerry even nostalgically brought his fingers to his lips in a pantomime of dragging on a marijuana roach as PP&M strummed out the familiar tune. Ah, those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end.
But at the same time this generation was forming its Socialist zeitgeist there was another generation of young people who did not participate in these demonstrations, who did not succumb in any large-scale way to the mores of the time, who went to college, got jobs, married and had families and got on with their lives. Even back in the days of Nixon and Agnew the Republicans got mileage out of the phrase "nattering nabobs of negativity" to describe the endless carpings of the liberal press. Walter Cronkite was the Dan Rather of his day, declaring one fine day that the Vietnam war was lost, while removing his glasses in that authoritative, fatherly way, to pierce us with his steely gaze and pronounce ponderously, "And that's the way it is." The term "The Silent Majority" was coined back then to speak for the vast masses of middle America that had no voice in the outlets of the mainstream media. All the little people who got on with the job, fought the wars, earned the money and paid their taxes.
And so we come full circle. To today. The Democrats cannot give up their gloried past. Their beliefs have come to be a religion to them. A received wisdom and truth. They were right then, they are right now. Back then they had to fight the establishment to get them to listen. Today they ARE the establishment, but the people continue to be uncooperative. And the people have moved on and have been thinking their own ideas all this time.
And the Republican party, envigorated and reborn under the tutelage and guidance of the great Ronald Reagan, himself a Roosevelt democrat who had been unafraid to see the errors of the Democrat party and to recognize the dangers of Socialist thinking that had permeated the party, moved on and became the party of innovation and change.
The Republican party has become the party of the future, unafraid to change, to consider new ideas, to be pragmatic while still adhering to some fundamental principles.
And the difference ultimately between the parties? The Republican party is the natural home of the great American experiment in freedom and liberty and democracy. A party which firmly roots itself in the Constitution, The Declaration of Independence, and the boundless and forward thinking and ever renewing philosophies of the Founding Fathers. A party which builds on these foundations and takes into account the changing needs and faces of America, without ever losing sight of the anchors which bind us to democracy and the American dream.
The Democrat party, alas, has lost its way, and is unable to change. For they are wed inexorably to the failed policies of Old Europe, of stagnant socialism, paralyzed internationalism, and the doomed-to-failure dream of a One World Government.
It is for this reason that they are unable to offer any new ideas. It is for this reason that all they can do is criticize. They have forgotten that they are first, foremost and always, American patriots, who can never improve on the vision of the geniuses who founded this country.
They can only offer the failed prescriptions of the past. And the failed policies of Europe and a hopelessly corrupt UN, both of which are sinking into stagnation and disaster with their policies of appeasement and political correctness.