Friday, February 06, 2004

Which kind was that again?

This is from The DLC Update, as received via fax, on "The Right Kind of 'Populism:'"

"But there's a second kind of populism as well, closer to the historic populism of the 19th century, that represents not a progressive call for elevating the national interest over the special interests, but a reactionary demand for class warfare and the rejection of economic and social progress. The sort of populism represented by Ralph Nader, Michael Moore, and others on the left, who believe that capitalism itself is fatally flawed, and that the primary mission of government is to redistribute wealth rather than to expand opportunity for all Americans to earn it. The inherently reactionary nature of this second kind of populism violates the progressive principles that most Democrats Share, and offends the optimistic, pro-opportunity values that most Americans share. The true mission of the Democratic Party is not to vilify capitalism or decry success, but to offer a positive plan to make sure that every American willing to work for it has the chance to get ahead."

I feel a kind of bipolar when reading this whole Update. I agree with much of the philosophy, yet disagree with many specific examples and details. I do think Michael Moore can be a raging pain in the ass - but I don't think his remarks at the Academy Awards made him an unpatriotic traitor - or whatever his detractors would say of him. I agree with his anti-war message, and in modern American culture what more appropriate forum is there for getting your message out than one based in entertainment? The news is entertainment (Janet's boob? Most of Fox News's daily content?). His medium is film, therefore his microphone rightly was an event about film. Where's the surprise? And maybe he doesn't have the answers or positive, forward momentum that DLC advocates. But the guy makes movies. He's yet to run for or be elected to any office. I'm not sure who died and made him a Democratic Party mouthpiece anyway.

The piece also praises Kerry and Edwards for embracing the good kind of populism on the stump. This kind that opposes unearned privilege and "crony capitalism, not work-based success or genuine free enterprise." I think the cronies think they are freely enterprising - but whatever - I'm not for cronies either. The bit opens with a reference to Dean, then drops him. It's clearly not a we-like-Dean piece, but the underlying current, from my reading, is that Dean is the bad populism, and Kerry and Edwards are saving us from ourselves.

I'm glad a 1986-established Senator is free from insider influences. And Edwards talks big about never having taken a penny from Washington lobbyists. I, or someone, need to pull his reports and make sure. I can't imagine he'd make such claims if they were blatantly false - but stranger things have happened.

The whole point is that the Dems need to stop playing GWB's us against the biggovernmentspecialinterestboogeymen, and start playing GWBandtheboogeymen against the middle class - get the middle class in the, well, middle of the fight.

I consider myself middle class right now. Well, given my financial profile, I'm sort of middle, could go upper, but could easily go Maytag-box as well. Clinton did a great job with the middle class - tapping into our hopes, dreams, fear, anger, potential, and sometimes, lesser qualities as well. But we keep promising the middle class so much. And we're kind of afraid of them. And now we have so much to pay for, yet we cut the taxes on the upperclass piggybanks that keep us in stylish programs.

The DLC calls the middle class "forgotten." Are they really?

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