INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Abandoning the Centrists Who Abandoned Me

Dave Rogers of Connect and Empower, in a supportive comment to my posts about Howard Dean, says:

”It's been a long while since I felt my political blood start to heat up about a candidate. Since McGovern, perhaps?”

It’s the comparison to McGovern that scares many Democrats. McGovern lost 49 states and his defeat was followed by the beginnings of the rise to power of the Conservative movement, which has been building inexorably since that time, much to the detriment of the political climate in this society.

Fear-driven comparisons to the McGovern disaster will be the argument for going with a centrist candidate. But I don’t buy the parallel. McGovern’s march to the nomination was fueled by outrage over the war in Vietnam. Dean’s impressive progress is fueled by outrage over the failure of the party’s mainstream to speak out against the ruinous policies of the Bush Administration. There is a considerable hunger for Dean’s unvarnished truth-telling.

Yes, you could point to the fact that that same hunger drove the John McCain insurgency in 2000, and ask, what difference did it make in the end? McCain got steamrolled by the Bush Lie Machine. They won’t hesitate to fire up the same steamroller against Dean. It will be ugly, and it will be effective.

But is that a reason to go for a centrist Democrat this time around? In the past, I’ve always preferred the centrist Democrats because they’re the ones that can win and govern. I deeply believe that, next to money, pragmatism is the mother’s milk of politics. This time around, though, I’m saying NO to the centrists because I feel abandoned and betrayed by them. And so, apparently, do a lot of others.

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