Allan Grayson’s recent “Die Now” speech got me thinking again about one of my favorite topics: the Democrats’ refusal to use “populist” language.
Decades ago the Democratic committed itself to a weird form of cool, unemotional, above-the-battle wonk politics. It’s a weird mix of Gandhi, Orwell, genteel mugwumpery, value-neutral ideology, and trust in manipulative administration by experts. Democrats think that they’re 17-dimensional Zen chess masters who can defeat their enemy without moving a muscle. Which they might be, for all I know, except for the winning part.
Since 1968 that strategy hasn’t worked at all well, and since the coronation of Speaker Gingrich in 1992 it hasn’t worked at all. The Republicans have been having tremendous fun teasing Democrats with lies and insults to see if they’ll stamp their little feet and start crying in frustration , or maybe send a stiffly worded letter.
Historically, most of America’s progressive energy has come from borderline demagogues who often worked outside and against the two parties. FDR started off planning to be a horrible president, but he didn’t get his way.
P.S. Lest I seem unsophisticated, the onset of the Democrats’ weird mental deficiencies coincided with their decision to cozy up to big business and ask for money — “Liberals are not afraid of bigness”, as Hofstadter said.
The party pros are actually tough guys who’re getting theirs. It’s the rank and file who are weenies.