Third Way Perspectives
Archive for March, 2009
March 24th, 2009
Originally published in Politico.
It didn’t take long for the left to come out guns ablazin’ over the formation of a moderate Democratic working group in the Senate. The Mod Dems, led by centrist Sens. Evan Bayh, Tom Carper and Blanche L. Lincoln, were attacked within 12 hours by liberal leader Robert Borosage, who labeled them “obstructionists” who are “trying to undermine” President Barack Obama’s agenda.
That is one view of this new group, which is being propagated widely on the left. The other view is that the Mod Dems represent Democrats’ best hope to achieve transformational change — that they are, in fact, the difference-makers on energy, health care, the budget and education. Perhaps it is this realization that is at the root of the left’s ire.
March 3rd, 2009
Originally published in DEMOCRACY – A Journal of Ideas.
It seems like ancient history, but it was only 20 years ago that a presidential election turned on the issue of crime. Years of spiraling crime rates, fed by the crack wars in urban centers and the spread of gang violence to smaller cities, made it the leading domestic issue of the 1980s. From 1968 to 1988, the number of violent crimes in America nearly tripled, rapes almost quadrupled, and murders spiked by 7,000 each year. In 1988, allies of Vice President and GOP presidential nominee George H. W. Bush ran one of history’s most infamous political ads, linking his opponent, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, to the furloughed rapist Willie Horton. Then, weeks later, in a presidential debate, Dukakis stumbled over a question regarding a theoretical death penalty case involving the rape and murder of his wife. A race that had been the Democrats’ to lose turned into a rout by the GOP.
But in the 2008 campaign, crime was barely mentioned at all. In Washington, crime, it seems, is now treated like polio—a severe problem once upon a time that has largely disappeared.