Why is it that so many politicians in recent decades (beginning, I suppose, with Ronald Reagan) have said, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the party left me”? I am one of those. I used to be a rather prominent Democratic politician in Rhode Island: I was once the majority leader of the state Senate (1998-2000) and in 1992 the (alas, unsuccessful) Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. But over the years I have become thoroughly disillusioned with the Democratic Party.
Throughout my long lifetime, the Democratic Party has always been dominated by activists with a more or less liberal philosophy. But there are two very different kinds of liberals – moderate liberals and ultra (or radical) liberals. From the 1930s through the 1960s the party was dominated by moderate liberals (e.g., FDR, Truman, Stevenson, Humphrey, Kennedy, LBJ). The 1970s was an era of transition, as the ultras came to share a “place at the table” with the moderates. Beginning in the 1980s the national party came increasingly to be dominated by the ideas and the agenda of the ultra-liberals. Finally, in the election of 2008 the beau ideal of ultra-liberalism, Barack Obama, won the presidency. The national Democratic Party is now without question a party of ultra-liberals.
When I first became interested in politics, during my teenage years of the 1950s, there was a very clear “wall of separation” between moderate liberals and ultra liberals. This was because the ultras had a history of being more than a little sympathetic with Communism, then riding high in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. The moderates, by contrast, were strongly anti-Communist; and so, quite naturally, they didn’t trust anybody with “red” or “pink” sympathies. In the late ’60s this wall of separation grew weaker, thanks largely to the unpopularity of the Vietnam war. For it was radical liberals who had first led opposition to the war; and moderates, when they ultimately came to oppose it, said to themselves: “The ultras were right on Vietnam; and so maybe they’re right on other things too.” The wall of separation came tumbling down, never to be re-erected.
What does today’s Democratic Party, a party now dominated by ultra-liberals, believe in? Let me try to summarize its political creed in four articles.
1. Sexual freedom. The party believes that “anything goes” when it comes to sex between (or among) consenting adults. Apart from rape and child molestation and sex with animals, there should be no legal or moral barriers to sexual freedom. Feel free to do whatever you like. Further, government should facilitate this sexual freedom by protecting a right to abortion, by providing free contraception to unmarried girls and young women, and by endorsing homosexual unions.
2. Racism. Ultras believe that almost all white people (except themselves) are racists. Whites in general, according to ultras, feel a deep-down animosity toward blacks and all other “persons of color.” And many ultras believe that racism is so deeply embedded in the American heart that even they themselves are tainted with this vice.
3. Big government. Ultra liberals believe that there is no societal problem – bad schools, single-parent families, crime in general, murder in particular, poverty, unemployment, bodily illness, mental illness, drug addiction, obesity, global warming, etc. – that cannot be solved through action by the federal government.
4. Cosmopolitanism. Ultra liberals feel that they are first of all “citizens of the world” and citizens of the United States only secondarily. “All men are brothers.” Hence liberals are “soft” on illegal immigration (after all, illegals are our brothers), and they much prefer negotiation to threats of military force (after all, the Iranians are our brothers), and they half-sympathize with certain terrorists (after all, the Palestinians of Hamas are our brothers).
I am convinced that these beliefs are in the process of ruining America. And I am depressed to think that the party I used to love has become a de facto enemy of the country I still love.