There’s a lot of nonsense written about the fissures within the Democratic Party. The picture is certainly complicated, but some things stand out as obviously wrong.
One of them is that the grassroots/netroots v. Establishment split is identical with the liberal/progressive v. moderate split. Even if it were clearer than it is who’s a “moderate” (Clinton? Gore? Clark?), the two splits just aren’t along the same lines.
Take the Webb/Miller race, for example. Webb, a culturally Red Reagan administration alumnus, played the “grassroots” “moderate” to Miller’s “Establishment” “liberal,” and won narrowly statewide by stomping Miller in “liberal” Northern Virginia.
Personally, I’m all for Tory men and Whig measures: I have no use for the sort of “moderate” who’s only for a moderate degree of income redistribution and social justice and only moderately against air pollution, legalized bribery, and torture, but as long as someone is going to do the right things I’m all for his being a churchgoing NASCAR fan, and as far as I’m concerned he’s welcome to vote to ban flag-burning if he thinks it will bring in any votes.
But mostly I’m willing to take what I can get. If Joe Lieberman were holding down Ben Nelson’s seat in Nebraska, I’d be all for him, smarmy religiosity and all; and if Nelson, nice guy as he seems to be, represented Connecticut, I’d think we ought to be able to do better.
For President, we need a candidate who can hold Kerry/Gore territory and carry Ohio or Florida. That candidate clearly isn’t named Feingold, Kerry, or Clinton, but I doubt we really have to settle for a Biden or a Bayh.