Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Me: I stopped there because I actually believe the first theory. I think there is something inherent to the Democratic Party in the last 20 years that makes flip-floppers more likely to get nominated. It has something to do with the fact that the national party -- i.e. it's major donors, civil rights groups, Hollywood, New York media etc -- are far more left wing than rank-and-file Democrats. Chait himself has written about how affirmative action is very unpopular in America but elite Democrats love it (and elite Republicans are terrified of dealing with it). Also, the Democratic Party is much more coalitional. These and other forces contribute to the need for these Dems to play a double game. For example, once Gore became a "national Democrat" it became that much harder to be a Southern Democrat. That's why he lost Tennessee. Bill Clinton was much better at playing both sides -- and I doubt even Chait would say that Clinton was a man of granite convictions. But Clinton's I agreed with the minority but would have voted with the majority schtick was a perfect distillation of how a creature of the modern Democratic Party was trying very hard to suck up to two different constituencies simultaneously.