Kos and Liberals

Kos should definitely be given credit for creating the political site DailyKos. But unfortunately, skill sets don’t always transfer. His political analysis suffers greatly from, well, not to put to fine a point on it, his ignorance of political events before 1992. I say this because Kos often seems to have internalized Gingrich-era talking points:

Libertarian Dems are not hostile to government like traditional libertarians.
But unlike the liberal Democrats of old times (now all but extinct), the Libertarian Dem doesn’t believe government is the solution for everything. But it sure as heck is effective in checking the power of corporations.

Thankfully, one of his readers, Want Some Wood, takes Kos to task about his ignorant attacks:

Kos, if I could talk to you, here’s what I’d say: Liberal Democrats NEVER, EVER believed that government is the solution to everything, and they still don’t believe that now. What we believe is that the free market is great and works well in many ways, but it isn’t perfect. Society functions best when government provides a safety net for the inevitable victims of the free market, regulations (the r-word) to keep the free market from claiming more victims, and a level playing field for the competition of the free market.
This was the philosophy of the Democratic party from the days of the Progressive movement, and it saw its greatest success in the New Deal and the Roosevelt Administration, still one of America’s finest hours. It continued up until the Great Society and, in many ways, all the way into the Clinton Administration. The liberal Democratic philosophy, and its many legislative and political successes–social security, civil rights legislation, environmental and safety regulations, union support, the GI bill and other support for education, and a host of other things–built the American middle class, and helped make this a great country.
That said, liberals never believed that government was the solution to everything. Think about it: Did Roosevelt end free enterprise? Did Kennedy, or Johnson, or Clinton? They did so only in right-wing fantasies. In fact, the far left often held Roosevelt and his successors in contempt, saying that they co-opted socialism while saving capitalism. James Carville, in his book We’re Right, They’re Wrong (a fantastic book that every progressive should read) mentioned that in the thirty years after World War II, when liberals were politically dominant, both the top and the bottom 20% income brackets saw their income double-quite an achievement in business for a group that thinks government is the solution to everything. Ted Sorenson, in his book Why I Am a Democrat (sadly out of print, but also quite worth reading), argued that business leaders support Republicans with their money, but like the broadly-spread prosperity that Democrats enable, because it enriches them in the long-term.
This is why it makes perfect sense that somebody could be a liberal Democrat and still mistrust misuses of government by bad people, namely excessive surveillance, disrespect for civil liberties, and so on. There is a reason why the American Civil Liberties Union was peopled mostly with liberals, and why George Bush Senior (in one of the many outrages of the 1988 campaign) used Michael Dukakis’ membership in the ACLU as proof that he was somehow bad and evil.
Conservatives are actually the ones who are dogmatic about government.

The whole post is worth a read.

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