DYCHE | Beshear is Right: 'Democratic Party Has Lost its Way'
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By John David Dyche WDRB Contributor
Kentucky governor Steve Beshear told the Democratic National Committee last weekend that "the Democratic Party has lost its way." He says the problem is not with the "party's core beliefs,'' but its "inability to convey our principles to the American people in a precise, concise, and passionate way.'' As for the party's brand, Beshear said, "We need one."
Beshear is partly correct. Democrats have indeed "lost their way," but their problem is precisely with their "progressive" core beliefs, not merely their messaging. Since Beshear is obviously oblivious to how Democrats are perceived, here is a helpful description of his party's brand.
Democrats want to increase federal power at the expense of states, local communities, and individuals. On virtually every issue, economic as well as social, from education to health care and from abortion to gay marriage, Democrats desire bigger, costlier, and more powerful government concentrated in Washington.
They abhor the federalism so important to the Founders and our constitutional structure. Centralized control and an intrusive bureaucratic regulatory state are core tenets of today's Democratic Party.
Democrats are also about increasing dependency on government. They emphasize the redistribution of wealth rather than its creation. Democrats want to expand rather than reform entitlement and social welfare programs that are bankrupting the country and deterring people from entrepreneurship and work.
They self-righteously proclaim themselves champions of the little guy, the working man, and the poor, but Democratic Party elites – the Kennedys, Clintons, Obamas, and Kerrys for example -- are extremely wealthy, lead lavish lifestyles, and hobnob with the rich and famous from Hollywood to Wall Street. These hypocrites, some to the manner born and others venal nouveau riche, act like the middle class can afford high taxes as easily as they can.
Gestures and symbolism mean more to Democrats than accountability and results do. To Democrats, the amount of spending is the important thing, not whether it produces positive outcomes. They are often most adamantly in favor of programs that demonstrably hurting those whom they are supposed to help.
Democrats believe that their ends justify their means. They therefore change legislative rules or break them outright, ram through huge legislation on a purely partisan basis, don't allow amendments, serially mislead the public, extend or ignore legal deadlines, refuse to enforce laws, back unconstitutional executive edicts, use the Internal Revenue Service for political purposes, and make political heroes out of party leaders who lie.
In international affairs, Democrats almost always blame America first, as they have done since former Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick coined that phrase in 1984. They project fecklessness, if not weakness, by giving silly "reset" buttons to cold, cruel, rapacious Russians, declaring meaningless "red lines," negotiating naively with a dishonest Iranian regime bent on becoming a nuclear power and regional hegemon, calling evil Islamic radicals the "jayvee team" but nothing worse, and babbling oxymorons like "leading from behind."
At home, Democrats disdain ordinary Americans and traditional values. This manifests itself in condescension and contemptuous statements like Michelle Obama's admission in 2008 that "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country," and Barack Obama's belittling of "bitter" Americans who "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
These things and plenty more are why Democrats have lost, according to a Wall Street Journal story on Beshear's report, 69 House seats, 13 Senate seats, 910 state legislative seats, 30 state legislatures, and 11 governorships since 2008. Beshear was tapped to talk to national Democrats about their image problem because the Kentucky party kept control of the state House of Representatives last year and occupies most state constitutional offices while a Republican wave has washed over the rest of the region. Yet he invoked the deity for Barack Obama by saying, "Democrats have been successful in presidential elections, and thank God we have!"
Beshear credits supposed Democratic bipartisanship for his party's success in a state it has grossly mismanaged during a century-and-a-half of dominance. But the bipartisan Beshear proceeded to attack Republicans as a party that plays on "fear, frustration, and bitterness," has "narrow-minded views," and cares only about the wealthy.
He said Abraham Lincoln would be so disappointed in what his Republican Party had become that if alive today he would re-register as a Democrat. Not a chance, Steve, but if Democratic icon Thomas Jefferson was alive today he would be a tea party Republican.
After all, Jefferson said "the sum of good government" was "a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned." Such governmental restraint is anathema to today's Democrats.
All this said, there are lots of good Democrats in America and Kentucky to whom some or all of the forgoing criticisms do not apply. Many of them regularly vote Republican despite their registration. And the Republican Party has plenty of problems of its own, which we will discuss in an upcoming column.
But Beshear is just plain wrong when he says, "The Democratic Party has too often allowed its message to become muddled." The Democratic Party's message is its problem. John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com. His e-mail is email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jddyche.