July 06, 2004

On Edwards

Well, I might as well try out my first post with something non-trivial, and I had in mind a bit of a commentary on the choice of Edwards.

Granted, I don't follow the political horserace as closely as others, but with all the excitement over the past week, it's been hard to ignore, and the two most likely possibilities have seemed to be Gephardt and Edwards. Part of the appeal of Gephardt was his close ties to organized labour, and thereby the working class. While I haven't read his book, I'm inclined to agree with Thomas Frank's thesis that the Democratic party (and, more generally, the left) needs to reclaim its populism. Between Reconstruction and the Civil Rights movement, the working class was overwhelmingly Democratic while the GOP was the party of the wealthy. Then, as the Democrats abandoned appeals to the working class, Republicans stepped up their own rancid populism and the `Culture Wars' rhetoric.

Gephardt's connections to labour make him indirectly populist; but Edward's campaign rhetoric has been quite legitimately compared to FDR's populism; and while his politics aren't as leftist as I'd like, he may be a sort of moderate populist who can pave the way for a progressive populist in the next decade. I can't recall actually hearing him use the phrase `class warfare', but it would certainly be a refreshing change from the mainstream moderatism the Democratic party of late.


MosBen said...

I also think people like Micheal Moore are right when they say that most people in the country are, at least, far more liberal than politicians give them credit for. If you ask one of the millions of people who can't afford healthcare if we should tax the richer folks in order to provide them with some aid, I don't think there'd be a single person that would start spouting laissez faire ideology at you.

Noumena said...

You'd be surprised at the percentage of working class people in the midwest who are ambivalent between the parties or even die-hard Republican simply because when they hear `Democrat' they think `man-hating, white-hating, religion-hating, coastal elites'. Yes, its in their economic best interest to vote Democratic, and yes, the Democratic party doesn't look like, well, me ideologically. But thirty years of `we're the REAL populists' being shoved down their throats from the right have had a powerful effect.

MosBen said...

I think you're right when you mention parties, but if you just ask someone without healthcare if they should have healthcare they'll say 'yes'. The party politics just muddles the truth of the issues, which is that poor people don't like being poor and if you offered them some way out they would take it, even if it differed from the Republican party line.