"Checklist" liberalism

This is an interest post. The idea is that the blog-fueled Lamont campaign may be ending “checklist” liberalism. In other words, Joe can say he’ll support affirmative action, and he can say he’s some kind of pro-choice, and maybe against drilling in ANWR, but unless he somehow moves the ball in a kind of essential Democratic way, it doesn’t matter.

It’s about time.

This isn’t the same as a demand for ideological purity–you can be for drilling in ANWR both in a self-interested corporatist way and in a pro-labor sort of way–but it a demand for some persuasive structure to a politicians beliefs and motives.

Being “bipartisan” isn’t one of those motives–that’s a procedural approach, not a substantive one. If it means unilateral disarmarment (e.g., the gang of 14), then substantively, it only means that the Republicans win, with Joe getting to bask in the glow of being so “reasonable.”

Some bloggers have started writing polemics against the “myth” of a centrist America. I hope they are careful to distinguish between Americans and Americans engaged in politics. America, I still believe, is polarized, but they are persuadable to accept reasonable centrist positions. For that reason, it probably takes a very great politician and leader to advance a truly centrist agenda (Clinton). Those that form the moving parts of political parties, on the other hand, gravitate towards the extremes. This basic dichotomy occurs every time we see a primary and then a general election.

Another problem is “centrist” can mean almost anything. Is someone like Arnold who is socially liberal and yet who is pro-business a centrist, or is Governor Riley of Alabama, who is socially conservative yet somewhat fiscally liberal a centrist? Add that problem of creating a true centrist essence to the fact that what’s considered “centrist” has gone far to the right of public opinion in the last 15 years, and you have nothing.

But Liebermann is not a centrist. He’s a conservative that ran as a Democrat to defeat a liberal Republican (Weicker), and, as such, had to pay homage to certain checklist groups.

Well, those checklist groups haven’t been providing for any victories lately. Time to drop them.