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This presidential cycle, the democrats including their obvious nominee, Senator John Kerry, have ramped up to the Dean factor. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean's emotionalism and progressivism have set the pace for Democrat Party candidates. Nearly all the presidential candidates have mimicked Dean's 'regime change' strategy; a total assault against George W. Bush, including the President's foreign and military anti-terrorist strategies.
As a result the democrats have again succumbed to their fatal attraction for the Left. The anti-war themes from 40 years ago are again popular, slogans from that era being used verbatim.
It didn't have to be so dismal for democrats. Joe Lieberman was closer to a winning strategy than most democrat leaders will acknowledge. Lieberman effectively took terrorism off the campaign table. He supported a robust counter attack against Islamic fanatics. He came from the dwindling Jackson wing of the party -- that's Henry "Scoop" Jackson not Jesse Jackson. "Scoop" Jackson, the Washington State democrat senator, believed in strong defense. Democrat President John Kennedy shared Jackson's strong defense beliefs.
Their strong defense posture had political advantages as well. But that was lost when the Left took over the Democrat Party in the sixties.
Then in the early nineties, republican candidates lost their competitive advantage over democrat rivals. For as long as polls have been conducted, Republicans have outscored Democrats in foreign policy and defense. The Cold War ended abruptly. The emerging but short-lived period of peace focused Americans inward, and on homeland issues upon which democrat candidates traditionally fare well..
Bill Clinton and his strategists knew this. Having had their weak side - defense -- neutralized with the demise of the Soviet Empire, Clinton and the democrats played to their strength and the republican's weakness-domestic policy, mainly jobs and the economy. Clinton trounced the foreign policy veteran Bush, Sr.
Now, the Democrats' fatal attraction has seduced them again. Despite Bill Clinton's best efforts, the party has moved to the left. Clinton tried to show his party how to appropriate the best of the Republican's principles - fiscal discipline and a balanced budget, for example - while slowly integrating progressive goals under the political radar screen. Incremental progressivism. Especially through his appointments, Clinton appeased his party's left while neutralizing Republicans key issues.
That strategy died with the Islamic terrorists' attacks on American soil. With the slaughter that day, foreign and military policy focus was back with a vengeance. The nuclear terror of the Cold War has been replaced with multi-faceted religious terrorism. The democrats are again at a competitive disadvantage; Americans still trust Republican leaders to do what's best for the nation's security.
That brings us back to Lieberman and "Scoop" Jackson. If John Kerry loses in November, the Democrat Party will again undergo wrenching self-examination. Conservative democrats will have a strong case for turning again away from the party's natural bias to the Left.
In the modern era, except for Clinton, the only democrat candidates who have won the presidency are candidates with a strong defense policy. Both their party and the nation would be better off if more defense-minded candidates emerge from the Democrat Party.
Write to Arthur at email@example.com
Arthur Bruzzone is an award-winning public affairs television producer/host and has written over 250 political articles for national and regional media. He has commented on political and urban issues for American and European television and radio networks. His articles and columns have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, Campaign & Elections Magazine, among other publications. Mr. Bruzzone holds a Masters Degree in Philosophy from C.U.A in Washington , D.C., and a M.B.A. in real estate. He is a returned Peace Corps volunteer serving two years in the Kingdom of Tonga, and the former chair of the San Francisco Republican Party. He served as a California state commissioner on a major environmental regulatory agency. He presently is president of a real estate investment company headquartered in San Francisco, CA.
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