Concettina Died and Other Stories of the East Side

The Future of The Democratic Party, posted January 10, 2008 at 05:35 PM

The current primary campaign is not just a process for us Democrats to choose our nominee, it is also a rare opportunity to decide the future of our party. To me, the choices are clear, and I can see the benefit of each of them.

To go for Clinton is a vote to win the game handily while keeping all the same rules and even all the same players. Personally I think it means short term gain and long term loss for the Democrats. Or at best it will preserve the party status quo for another generation. However, with the Republicans themselves in chaos and with the deep divisions in their own party, this safe course of action seems like a real waste at this time. It made more sense in 2004 (not that it worked--Kerry lost against the most hated president in modern history).

To go for Edwards is to drag the party leftward, back to our core principles--a market correction away from the rightward drift we suffered under Bill Clinton. His election would restore our party's position as the working man's party, as the party that sees government as a force of good, as the party that believes in the individual over the corporations. It will not fundamentally change the game though, no matter how much Edwards claims that his fighting spirit will destroy the opposition. But still, his election could lead to a long period of robust progressivism in the country, like electing a new FDR, an idea I find extremely appealing.

To go for Obama is to move into the future, a generational shift. A man born in the 60s, not scarred by them. An almost post-partisan approach, with a foundation of progressivism, a basic building frame made of common sense and common ground, and a big tent built on top of that which seeks to include all comers. The risks are that this new model is untested. I don't mean the candidate--he'll do just fine as a president. I mean, will restructuring our politics result in real progress? Or will it throw us into a kind of political purgatory, where when the dust finally settles years from now we find we don't like what we built? Or will he fail altogether to reinvent the political landscape and we end up in the same place we'd have been with Hillary Clinton? Who knows? What I do know is that real gain cannot be made without real risks.

My undecided vote is leaning Edwards because of his specific policies and principles, but I love the idea of taking the big leap with Obama. And while I could also live with Clinton as President (provided we hold her feet to the fire as best we can while not being lobbyists), that certainly is not what I want for the direction of our party.

And you? What do you, dear reader, think?

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