Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Arnold's Speech

I was surpised by one thing in Arnold's speech, although perhaps I shouldn't have been. That was his willingness to define the Republican party and explain why he's in it. A lot of people expected him to continue to be a party of one, but he tied himself pretty firmly to the Republican party. Arnold is a Republican, albeit a rather libertarian one. And the truth be told, this does NOT put him out on a limb--there is a very large, very organized libertarian wing of the party, whose leaders and cadres are a major part of the party coalition. And these folks are staying in the party because they believe that, their disagreements with the party on social issues not withstanding, that the Democrats are still their most important enemy. They care about abortion and gay right, but not that much--and they believe, again not without reason, that on the social issues the social conservatives are not likely to get any traction any time soon. So there's no reason to beat their breasts and try to start big platform fights on abortion, since they're willing to spot their fellow party-members those issues, and focus on where they agree.

Big question--did anyone at the Democratic party use their speech to state as clearly as Arnold did, what the basic reasons were why the public ought to support their party? Not that I remember. Why is this? I think it is because the Democratic message is stale, and the party lacks the big, positive issues that make party leaders WANT to go out and sell the public on the party message. As a Democrat, I find this incredibly depressing.


Karl said...

Didn't see the speech but I vote Libertarian because the religious conservatives have taken over the party and the fiscal conservatives aren't conservative at all.

Anonymous said...

How quickly we forget? Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both layed out the fundemental beliefs of the Democratic party in speechs that didn't need to reference any films about cyborgs. Or call unemployed Americans "girlie-men" if they happen to be pessimistic about the economy.

carla said...

My favorite part about Arnold's speech was when he said Richard Nixon inspired him to be a Republican.

So the young Austrian came to the US and did porn videos, drugs, groped women, made some of the most violent films in history and was inspired by a completely disgraced and corrupt Administration to join their Party.

You can't make this stuff up.

Marketa said...

Adding to the comparison…There was another area in which Arnold Schwarzenegger did a better service to his party than his Democratic so-to-speak-counterpart, Madeleine Albright, another Central European-born American who has become a top-ranking U.S. official. In their speeches, both of them mentioned their childhood experiences with totalitarianism (Nazism and Communism during the 1940s and 1950s). These stories had a potential to become more than mere anecdotes highlighting what a great place America is. At a time when totalitarianism number three, Jihadism, is rapidly advancing, Arnold’s and Madeleine’s sharing of these memories should have led to a more serious message to the American public. Two questions that both of them should have been expected to answer were a) how their respective parties have dealt with totalitarian regimes in the past and b) how they will oppose totalitarianism in the upcoming four years. While none of them answered the two points fully, Arnold did a better job than Madeleine. He used an example of the Soviet occupation of Austria to explain not only his personal inclination to the Republican Party’s ideals but more importantly, to emphasize his party’s victory over one of the totalitarianisms (Communism). On the other hand, Madeleine missed her chance to lay out the Democratic Party’s record in this area and instead used the paragraph about her “immigrant origins” to merely glorify general American ideals. In addition to missing an opportunity to make an important statement, she discounted the sophistication of the Jihadist ideology by claiming that “our adversaries have nothing to offer their followers except hatred, destruction, and death.” She, more than anyone else, should know that totalitarian ideologies and regimes, especially in their formative stages, have MUCH to offer their followers.

The two delegates, Arnold and Madeleine, were in a unique position to place the current war on terrorism in the proper context which is to say that Jihadism stands in line with Nazism and Communism and no measures short of those that have been used to defeat the latter two will suffice. In fact, there are reasons to believe that Jihadism as an ideology and practice (Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Sudan) poses a far greater threat than any of the two previous totalitarianisms: it is ideologically enriched by the extra religious layer it has, its proponents are better technologically equipped, and the movement has had all this time to pick up additional tips about successful strategies and tactics from the Nazi and Communist experiences. Arnold should get credit for at least mentioning some of the tenets of Jihadism further down in his speech, suggesting that there is actually an elaborate ideology out there that his party needs to counter. Madeleine took the route of downplaying the gravity of the danger by singling out terrorism as a “new evil” carried out by small, isolated, and misguided groups qualitatively different from traditional dictatorships. For someone who has lived through Nazism and Communism, not to recognize and publicly acknowledge Jihadism’s totalitarian character, is a double failure.

TNB said...

Libertarian Republicans are kidding themselves - how much influence do they really have? The base of the Republican Party is anything but libertarian. Only the principled resistance of the Democrats is keeping the Republicans from having any traction on issues like abortion and gay rights. It's not libertarian Republicans fighting Bush's extremist federal court appointments. It's not libertarian Republicans raising their voices nationwide against the Patriot Act.

The Democratic message is definitely not stale. Environmental protection - clean air and water, making polluters pay to clean up the messes they made - is not stale. Fiscal responsibility - not dumping trillions of dollars of debt on generations yet to come - is not stale. A foreign policy that does not create more enemies than it eliminates is not stale. An economy that creates jobs, that does not ignore millions of Americans slipping into poverty or losing their health insurance, is not stale. Kerry is out there making his case - the press is, as usual, ignoring him in favor of right wing lies (where are "libertarian Republicans" on the whole Swift Boat filth? If they had any principles, they'd disdain winning by lying).

Arnold Schwarzenegger is an intelligent man, but he basically believes that people, once they climb the ladder, have a moral obligation to pull it up after them so as to keep anyone else from climbing it. Democrats believe in lowering a rope. That's a message all of us Democrats can be proud of.