The Henry Wallace Democratic Party

Dr. Steven Marmer reflects on the echoes of the past he hears in the Democratic Party today: “Lately I’ve been thinking about the once great Democratic Party and how it has turned into a version of the British Labor Party of the 1980s. I have watched two of the Democratic Presidential Debates from start to finish and have read material from all the candidates. I even signed up on moveon.com for a few months to see what they were sending to their supporters. What I have seen and heard has me very upset.
“My center-left friends assure me that none of the candidates, with the possible exception of Mosley-Braun and Kucinich, believe what they are saying. They are merely posing so that the left-leaning Democrats who vote in the primaries will support them. I pray this is so but I’m not so sure my prayers will be answered.
“When so many people were supporting the Oslo Accords I was skeptical because someone provided me translations of the speeches Arafat was making in Arabic at the same time he was preaching peace in English. I learned that if someone says they are planning to kill you, it is wise to take them at their word.
“Sure, political speech is prone to hyperbole, and politicians are notorious for changing their minds. And of course, the Democrats running for President are not the same as Yassar Arafat. But I was reflecting on how the Democratic Party I admired so much in my youth has devolved into its present state. I thought of how the war on terrorism is similar to the Cold War, and that the Cold War would not have had its successful outcome if it were not for the strong liberal anti-communist core of the Democratic Party. It took fifty years to overcome communism, and there are still pockets like North Korea posing ongoing dangers.
“The campaign against terrorism could well take longer than the Cold War. During that time there will inevitably be both Republican and Democratic administrations. Without a vision shared by both parties we could well fail to win against terrorism.
“Franklin Roosevelt died after the 1944 election leaving Harry Truman as his successor. How different would the world have been if Roosevelt had died a year or two earlier leaving Henry Wallace as President. Would we have developed NATO? Would have we pursued the Cold War? Would the Soviet Union have been permitted to take over Greece? Would communist parties have had electoral success in Italy and elsewhere?
“When I hear Howard Dean I think of Henry Wallace. What a world of difference it made that Democrats like Henry Jackson prevailed over Henry Wallace. The present crop of Democrats would refashion America to look more like Europe. That would indeed make it a different and more dangerous world.
“Another alarming aspect of this campaign is that statements formerly confined to the fringe left are presently being made daily by mainstream leaders of the Democratic Party. One might say that Republicans did the same to President Clinton. But I differ with that. Yes, the occasional Congressman made wild statements about President Clinton, and so did many commentators, mostly from the far right of the spectrum. Mainstream Republican leaders, including those running for President, never vetted these statements. Today it is not just Joe Conason, Al Franken, or Michael Moore who accuse President Bush of sending American soldiers to their deaths for crass political reasons and for deliberately misleading the country. Nearly every Presidential candidate is doing so.
“If we take John Kerry, Howard Dean, and Wesley Clark at their word, their administrations, were they to get elected, would cede considerable American power to the United Nations and various assorted international coalitions.
“Should we take them at their word? My center-left friends say, No. These are merely vote gathering strategies that pander to the typical voter in the Democratic primaries. Don’t worry. They don’t really mean what they say.
“Well, I’m not so sure. The Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Scoop Jackson party has become the Henry Wallace party. Think about a world in which President Henry Wallace set the strategy for the post-World War II era and you will get a clue for what the current Democratic Party is all about.
“I’m accused of being melodramatic when I say that the fate of modern Western civilization will turn on how we address terrorism in the next generation or two. If the Henry Wallace Democratic Party represents an important and eventually winning force in America, be prepared for the next Dark Ages.”

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