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27.5.03

"New Democrats" Fraudulent Phonies

Secondly, new Democrats generally support gay rights, abortion rights, gun control and military interventions. A lot of old Democrats are pro-family, antiabortion, pro-gun, and believe we should pay attention to our problems here at home.

... Most Republicans are honest conservatives; most Democrats are honest progressives. Most ''new Democrats'' are fraudulent phonies.


We usually think of the New Democrats as the right wing of the party (hence centrists overall), a group that gave up the old left's socialist-sounding goals (especially on economic issues) to appeal to the center of the electorate. So they take a lot of flak from the left wing of the party. This is the first I've heard them attacked by a Democrat for being too far to the left (granted, the paragraph before the one I quoted criticized them for being too far to the right on trade). I think this writer (Mark Calafati) represents an important faction of the Democratic party that's often lost between characterizing the Old Democrats as Wellstone-esque progressives and attacking the social conservatives of the right.

This letter also highlights the problems of characterizing political parties according to whether they favor change or not (the progressive-conservative axis). Calafati implicitly describes himself as a progressive. Yet his opinions on social issues -- pro-gun, pro-life, pro-family -- are clear markers of social conservatism today, a far cry from the agenda of the modern left wing. The overall platform that he advocates sounds much like that proposed by the progressive faction in the early part of the 20th century and largely enacted in the New Deal. The name became simply a label for a package of policy ideals, rather than a description.

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