One of my problems with the Democratic Party is that it seems to re-invent itself every election based on polls, vogue issues and the policy preferences of the person who happens to win the presidential nomination. All kinds of things are wrong with running a political party that way. The Republicans’ current run of success can be attributed in part to the party’s philosophical consistency, which if nothing else conveys commitment, even if it sometimes leaves them looking out of touch. Democrats don’t like being out of touch, but being too “in touch” can make you seem like a chameleon.
The sample pages on Zilber’s website do a better job of explaining core Democratic values than any speech John Kerry or John Edwards made during the 2004 campaign.
As a political scientist, Zilber is surely aware of the cliche that the Democrats are the “mommy party,” while Republicans are the “daddy party.” In troubled times like now, these identities don’t do the Democrats much good. But I give Zilber a lot of credit for being unafraid to steer right into that reputation; I expect this book to be very successful. The worst nightmare of a committed Democratic activist is for their child to grow up and become a Republican. I’m not sure this book will prevent it, but why not go down fighting?
But — maybe this conveys my ambivalence — imagine Harry Truman’s reaction to a book like this.
(I have to admit; I found out about this book via Powerline, which could barely keep its pants dry chortling about it.)