Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Conservative DLC Biggest Loser in 2002 Election

From the radio newsmagazine
Between The Lines
http://www.btlonline.org
=======================

Between the Lines Q&A
A weekly column featuring progressive viewpoints
on national and international issues
under-reported in mainstream media
for release Nov. 18, 2002
=======================

Conservative Democratic Leadership Council Biggest Loser in 2002 Election

*Democrats who sided with Bush's tax and Iraq war policies lose seats in House and Senate

Listen in RealAudio:
http://66.175.55.251/marable112202.ram

Interview with Manning Marable, professor of history and political science at Columbia University, conducted by Scott Harris.

When all the votes were cast and counted in the Nov. 5th congressional mid-term election, the Democratic Party made history. Bucking the decades-long trend of political parties in opposition to a first-term president gaining congressional seats, the Democrats instead lost control of the U.S. Senate and saw their membership decline by five in the House. Without a clear message and with many Democratic candidates allying themselves with key Bush administration positions on war with Iraq and tax cuts, political observers were not surprised at the party's losses.

The Republicans, now in effective control of all three branches of government -- executive, legislative and judicial -- will be in position to fully control the agenda in Washington. The GOP has signaled that in the years ahead, their program will include making permanent, large tax cuts for the wealthiest sector of society; authorizing oil exploration in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge; and the appointment of Supreme Court and federal judges pledged to weaken reproductive rights, civil rights and consumer protection law.

Although the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and the popularity of a "wartime" president were said to be factors in the Democrat's failures, the party's move to the right was also a critical issue in the view of many progressive activists. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Manning Marable, professor of history and political science at Columbia University. Marable, a supporter of the Green Party's Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential election, examines the 2002 election results and what the Democrats must do to rebuild their party.

Dr. Manning Marable: If one goes back in U.S. political history, the last time that a sitting president's party gained both seats in the House and in the Senate in the off-year election two years after his election, or re-election occurred in 1934 with Franklin Roosevelt. For a Republican, it only occurred most recently in 1902 with Teddy Roosevelt. It's been 100 years since a Republican sitting president had gains in both the House and Senate two years after his original election. So clearly something went terribly wrong.

Now, when we say that the Republicans' gains were unprecedented, we have to really put that into brackets because at a national level the electorate was largely divided. I believe that if you count all of the House of Representatives votes -- Democrat vs. Republican nationwide -- only about 50,000 total votes separated the Republicans from the Democrats out of 70 million or 80 million votes cast.

The other thing that's striking is the vast majority of American adults did not vote. The turnout was about 39 percent of the registered voters. But since only about 75 or 80 percent of all Americans who are over the age of 18 are registered to vote, you're really talking about less than one third of the total adult population voting, and of that only about 16 or 17 percent voted for Republicans. So this so-called crashing mandate is only one out of six voters. That's not very much.

I think out the real loser in this election was the DLC, the Democratic Leadership Council. The DLC was formed about 15 years ago by Al From and a group of centrist Democrats led at the time by an obscure Arkansas governor named William Jefferson Clinton, along with a group of other Democrats, including Al Gore and Richard Gephardt in the House from St. Louis. They believed that there had to be a kind of centrist mode between the Reagan Republicans and the traditional liberal Mondale-McGovern Democrats. They espoused a strategy of triangulation, separating themselves from the traditional liberalism of the Democratic party and the Reaganite Republicanism that was then ruling Washington, D.C. at the White House. The strategy, however, proved very problematic because the Democrats who lost in the 2002 off-year elections generally tended to be those who had either embraced Bush's massive tax cut for the wealthy -- the $1.35 trillion slash of the taxes -- versus those Democrats ! who won that generally tended to vote against that tax cut, and/or the Democrats who also endorsed the invasion, basically the use of military force against Iraq. More conservative Democrats tended to lose; the more progressive and liberal Democrats Nov. 5th tended to win.

Between The Lines: Dr. Marable, you spoke a moment ago about the Democratic Leadership Council which has steadily moved the Democratic party to the right over the years with their triangulation policy that Bill Clinton and his advisors made famous -- or infamous. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Clinton, Gore, Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic National Committee chairman -- all these people seem fairly well entrenched. Is there going to be some kind of groundswell or a cry for change within the Democratic party and will California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the new minority leader in the House of Representatives, be part of that insurrection?

Manning Marable: You have to keep in mind that if you look at the congressional Democrats, there are only a little over 200 Democrats who are in the House. The Congressional Black caucus is nearly 40 people, so one out of every five or six Democrats in the House of Representatives is an African American. So that by itself shifts the ideological and political weight of the Democratic caucus in the House to the left, because African Americans generally support progressive and left of center politics. Always have throughout the 20th century, and probably always will. So it's not surprising that Pelosi was able to get a lock between labor, liberals, African American and Latino representatives in Congress.

The real question though, is what do left of center, progressive and liberal people do about a political system where over 90 percent of the candidates who have the most money, regardless of partisan affiliation and ideology, win in any congressional or senatorial race? So with "winner-take-all," with money dominating the electoral political process, it is very difficult for a progressive or left of center point of view to really have an impact upon the political discourse or decision-making apparatus in our so-called democracy.

The only alternative for us is really mobilizing and organizing the vast majority of American people who do not share the interests of the "Enron Republicans," that can pursue a vision of small "d" democracy that can push the Democratic party to the left and hopefully, politically create an alternative to it, to its left. Note the challenges ahead: this will not be an easy period for us.

Manning Marable is the author of "The Great Wells of Democracy," published by Basic Books. Visit Dr. Marable's Web site at www.manningmarable.net

=============================

Scott Harris is executive producer of Between The Lines. This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, nationally syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines (www.btlonline.org), for the week ending Nov. 22, 2002

=============================

PRINT INFORMATION:
For reprint permission, please email betweenthelines@snet.net.

To subscribe to Between The Lines Q&A, e-mail btlqa-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news