Wednesday, March 30, 2005

On the Reservation ... and OFF

The NYTimes features today an op-ed piece by ex-Senator Bill Bradley, making some good sense about rebuilding the Democratic Party from the ground up. It's heavy on the metaphor of the pyramid, or rather an inverted pyramid, with the whole party balancing precariously on the point of a single presidential candidate. Here's part of what he said: "The trouble is that every four years the party splits and rallies around several different individuals at once. Opponents in the primaries then exaggerate their differences and leave the public confused about what Democrats believe. In such a system tactics trump strategy. Candidates don't risk talking about big ideas because the ideas have never been sufficiently tested. Instead they usually wind up arguing about minor issues and express few deep convictions. In the worst case, they embrace 'Republican lite' platforms -- never realizing that in doing so they're allowing the Republicans to define the terms of the debate."

But the more interesting op-ed in today's NYTimes is by ex-Senator and Republican John Danforth of Missouri (also ex-U.N. ambassador, soon to be replaced by Bush hardliner John Bolton), who raises his voice against the take-over of his party by the Religious Right. He knows whereof he speaks, being an ordained clergyman himself.

"The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active," Danforth says. "It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement."

Danforth mentions several initiatives advanced by the Religious Right, but he's clearly most concerned by his president's slamming the door on stem-cell research. And then there's this: "As a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal deficit. I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today it seems to be the other way around."

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