Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The True Progressives

The Lawrence Journal-World (Kansas) has an account of a recent speaking engagement by DNC chairman Howard Dean. He spoke harmlessly enough at Lawrence's Liberty Hall, but he got a little more outrageous at a fundraiser held in the backyard of residents John and Nancy Hiebert. As he laid into conservatives with greater audacity than in his Liberty Hall speech, he concluded by saying, "This is a struggle of good and evil. And we're the good." The quote stops short of directly calling Republicans evil, but the implication is very explicit. When Kansas Republican Party executive director Derrick Sontag was told about Dean's remarks, he responded, "My immediate reaction to that whole dialogue is, it's full of hatred. The Democratic Party has elected a leader that's full of hatred."

Personally, I would never call anyone "evil" just because they didn't agree with me. I know the value of positive discourse (why else would I be pushing the College Blog Alliance?), which is why this kind of political pessimism has always bothered me more than anything else. One of the biggest reasons that I am a Republican stems from my general optimism. I believe in a better tomorrow, and while I've always had a certain amount of admiration for the Democratic Party of the 1960s, it was mostly because of the vigor that John Kennedy and his Camelot legacy injected America with. The regression of the progressives can probably be attributed to Watergate, which led a large portion of the left to view all Republicans as criminals waiting to be caught in the act. Think about it; why else would Hillary Clinton have coined the phrase "vast right-wing conspiracy", and why else would one of the most popular anti-Bush books from last year be titled Worse than Watergate? The Democratic Party of the present day has lost their optimism and replaced it with contempt. In contrast, today's Republican Party has mostly avoided internalizing Watergate and has reinvented itself as a party with a positive perspective.

This allows me to touch on something else: what is it that President Bush has that makes his supporters love him so much and his opponents despise him? It is really very simple; George W. Bush is an idealist, and the twinkle in his eyes when he talks about the issues confirms this. This visibly confounds reporters who interview him, as they are used to politicians who are more concerned with their jobs than their ideals. Most who do not realize this, especially the liberals that oppose him, are quick to brand him stupid and/or arrogant. Stupidity does not produce a twinkle in the eye; the eyes of the idiot are dull. Arrogance does not produce that spark either; conceit harshens the glimmer into an accusing fire, which is not visible in the eyes of our president. There is probably nothing PC about what I am about to say, but this is one of the reasons why Bush's religious convictions are so obvious; everyone I've ever met with that gleam in their eye was either very devout or a true optimist, usually both. With Bush at the helm of the GOP, the Republican transition into the party of dreams is especially vivid and pronounced.

So how does this relate back to Democrats? To put it mildly, if Dean is the wave of the future, then the Democratic Party will drown in their negativity. The Dems can only salvage the party by finding a true idealist who is comparable to Bush in demeanor and charisma. Hillary Clinton is obviously not that person. John Edwards has the charisma but little optimism. John Kerry seemed to have some of the idealism, but he was too busy worrying about what people thought about him to have any perceptible twinkle in his eyes. I know that liberals have been calling themselves "progressives" in recent years, but as of present, conservatives are the true progressives. Without a dream of a better condition, there can be no reform; without idealism, there is no dream to speak of. If the DNC cannot add a little sunshine to its politics and move closer to the center, then it will spend years attempting to rise from its grave.


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