The Democrats Fight Back


Let’s say you’re a voter who fits this profile—

a) you’ve
voted Republican in recent presidential elections, but you know you’re
not as conservative as some friends and neighbors.

b) You’re not
entirely unsympathetic to the Democratic Party, but you’ve grown weary
of their hostility to anything that smacks of religion. You don’t trust
them to handle the country’s national security, and you're tired of
their Ivy League elitists looking down on you.

You constitute
one of the “values voters” who swung the 2004 election to President
Bush. If that’s your demographic, Democratic strategists Paul Begala
and James Carville have written Take It Back to instruct their party how to win your vote.

the 2004 election slipped away from them, Democrats have been at work
coming up with ideas on how to win back “values voters.” The question
has been whether the party would do this by real change in its agenda
and sticking the nose-in-the-air attitude in the trash can–or by
simply coming up with a better marketing technique to promote the same
old secularized pacificism. Carville & Begala recommend just very
minor tinkering with the agenda, but to cover it up by invoking Sacred
Scripture so often that a fundamentalist street preacher might blush in

The Catechism of the Catholic Church
teaches that the use of God’s name to cover up criminal practices–in
this case, the fact that the Democratic Party is the wholly-owned
subsidiary of the abortion industry–is blasphemy (CCC #2148). But the
authors do not hesitate to use the tactic, gambling that it will reap
big political dividends among the “values voters”.

That Begala
and Carville sold out to this approach is sad, because they offer quite
a few constructive ideas here. Most noteworthy was the attitude
overhaul they recommended a lot of liberals undertake. I can’t have
been the only reader who was struck by this quote—

“…we talked
about how wrong some Democratic intellectual elites are when they
denigrate working-class people who vote Republican. They
condescendingly argue that the Republicans have pulled their wool over
their eyes…We think that analysis is overblown. It might be that these
folks know full well that the GOP doesn’t represent their economic
interests, but they’ve come to think the Democrats don’t respect their
culture and values of religion. Just as many rich liberals proudly vote
against their economic self-interest, that working-class family living
in that trailer is doing the same thing.”(Introduction, xxi)

authors hammer the Snotty Left hard enough to make them squeal. Earlier
this year, in The American Prospect’s online edition, the hard-left
columnist Charles Pierce hit back. If you ever want to know how much
hatred Democratic Party activists have for “values voters” and just how
much abortion-on-demand matters to them, one need only read Pierce’s rejoinder
to the authors. For all that Carville & Begala did wrong in this
book, they deserve credit for taking on the likes of Pierce (and the
book was similarly panned in the ultra-left Daily Kos), who are the dominant force in Democratic presidential primaries.

It Back rolls on through the authors’ proposals on a wide range of
issues. And they've got some good ones. On health care, they propose
the United States adopt the health-care system used for members of
Congress. The government negotiates the plans (about 180 different ones
to pick from), and the authors would let small businesses buy into it
with tax breaks. Then expand Medicaid to make sure all children and
working poor are covered. For Republicans who resist the former idea,
the authors challenge—“Republicans are forever flapping their gums
about how the private sector does everything right…so they can go get
their health care coverage in the private market, and the rest of
America can have the health plan they have.”(pg. 279).

If it’s
fair to challenge Democratic pols as to why they send their kids to
private schools, while denying proposals to give working-class parents
the same option (and it is quite fair), then Begala and Carville’s
counterchallenge on health care is equally legitimate.

and Carville go on to give in to embrace some of the more shameless
tactics of Democratic Party politics over the last year and a half.
Predictably, they declare President Bush lied the country into war. Yet
(equally predictably)they proclaim their own party’s figures—i.e.,
their old boss, President Clinton—are vastly smarter then Bush,
especially on foreign affairs. Naturally, I waited for an explanation
as to why Clinton also believed Saddam Hussein possessed WMD, and
supported the Iraqi War until it became inconvenient to do so. I’m
still waiting.

Absent explanations for why presumably brilliant
Senate Democrats agreed with George W. Bush when the chips were really
in the table (recall it was a Democratic-controlled Senate that
authorized the war in October 2002), one can only assume that Begala
and Carville are the ones attempting to lie Americans into a war—they
desire to lie swing voters into a political war against the current
president, using more force against him then they would ever use
against an actual murderous tyrant.

The authors also devote an
entire chapter to blaming George W. Bush for the government’s response
to Hurricane Katrina. Amazingly, they made it through twenty pages of
partisan diatribe (save for one paragraph crediting Bush with declaring
a state of emergency prior to the hurricane), and not once did they
mention it was Bush who implored New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin to invoke
mandatory evacuation. Nagin instead let the poor people of his city
drown while unused buses were flooded in the Superdome parking lot. But
Nagin’s a Democrat, so apparently Begala & Carville needed another

When it comes to their party’s sellout to the
abortion industry (if anyone thinks this is too strong a term, how many
pro-life Democrats have you seen in recent presidential primaries?),
the authors make some cautious moves in the right direction. Carville
& Begala ask why Democratic activists insist on losing elections
over partial-birth abortion and other restrictions, when a majority of
their own rank-and-file favor these being enacted
. They do stop short
of a pro-life posture—or even the watered-down version that allows
“exceptions” for rape and incest, but the piecemeal steps they do take
deserve recognition.

So is America better or worse if the ideas
contained in Take It Back gain traction were adopted as a whole? Given
that the book is written for politically active Democrats, one can say
unequivocally that the party would be better off if the authors were
heeded—and that obviously benefits the nation as a whole. But the
blasphemy noted at the outset and other problems touched on here mean
that if you’re a “values voter”, the Democrats still have quite a bit
of work to do.

Flaherty is a Catholic columnist, and also does freelance
sportswriting. He is the editor of three sports weblogs–
Red Sox Rumblings, Redskin Rumblings, & Big Ten Country.

Copyright 2006 Catholic Match, LLC, This article may not be copied,
reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, transmitted, or distributed
in any way without express authorization of Catholic Match, LLC.


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