The Democratic Leadership Council is holding its summer conference; the absence of any of the nine Democratic Presidential candidates is an indication of how far leftward the pendulum has swung in that party. DLC members warned against the danger of an electoral catastrophe like 1972 or 1984, as they have been doing–to no perceptible effect–for some time.
Indiana’s Evan Bayh struck a typical note: “It is our belief that the Democratic Party has an important choice to make: Do we want to vent or do we want to govern? The administration is being run by the far right. The Democratic Party is in danger of being taken over by the far left.” It is interesting to contemplate an allegedly “centrist” perspective from which the Bush Administration is “far right.”
But the most powerful critique came from pollster Mark Penn, who noted that: “We’re at a postwar historic low of Democratic Party membership.” Penn said that the Democrats now trail Republicans among people who earn more than $20,000 annually–which would seem to be just about everyone–and that only 22% of white men now describe themselves as Democrats. “Among middle-class voters, ” Penn said, “the Democratic Party is a shadow of its former self.”
But the DLC and its allies appear to be having little or no impact on the Democratic race. The candidates have steadily moved to the left, not toward the center. And the primaries haven’t even started yet.
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