The primary loss of Senator Joe Lieberman to political novice Ned Lamont on Tuesday has been debated widely in the United States. Was this a signal of the electoral mood as we approach the fall elections? And if so, what does this mean about the future of the United States? I have no idea and tend to believe that the political pundits don’t know much more than I do. One thing is for sure, almost everyone has an opinion.
What I am more convinced of is that the Democractic Party has changed rather dramatically over the course of my lifetime. I am not sure when, or exactly how, this happened but that there has been a discernable change is now indisputable. The party of FDR and John Kennedy has now become the party of "transnationalism" wrote Michael Barone, senior writer at U. S. News & World Report, in today’s Wall Street Journal (August 10). Older Democrats, argues Barone, were "exceptionalists." This meant they differed very little from Republicans regarding the essential nature and character of America. Both parties, for over a century, saw this nation as a good country, albeit with flaws for sure, but fundamentally a good country. Simply put, exceptionalism is the idea that the United States is a special country with a special role in the world. Barone demonstrates in his article today that the majority of the modern Democratic Party believes no longer in exceptionalism but in transnationalism, the belief that our country is no really better than any other country in the world and, in some cases, maybe even worse. This approach views America as bellicose, mean-spirited, and down right dangerous. We are the nation to be feared, to be distrusted and to be opposed.
Barone shows that these new Democrats are a professional class who vote their ideology while living a life insulated from adversity thus they cannot imagine an America threatened by enemies who would actually destroy us. I thought about this a great deal today as I waited and waited in nervous airport lines to board a flight. How could anyone who watched the news of this day not realize that there are powerful people in the world who hate America and see it as "the great Satan" to be destroyed in any way possible?
Barone suggests that transnational professionals can "vote to validate their lifestyle choices and [thus] their transnational attiudes." Old Democrats were generally working class folks who voted for FDR, Truman and Kennedy. (Lieberman’s dad, for example, owned a liquor store while Lamont, the new professional Democrat, inherited huge wealth that was gained through investment banking.) These new Democrats, who are clearly growing in influence in their party (some say as much as 55% of the party now), do not clearly see that there this is a global struggle with Islamofascism that matters deeply to the national future of this country. This is precisely why Dennis Prager, a popular Jewish commentator, once referred to the Republican Party as "stupid" while he said the Democratic Party is "dangerous." I agree with a number of Democrats at various points, and even some of their progressive views on national issues, but I have a hard time believing that this is a party that still has the vision needed to defend the nation in a dangerous time of war. We can and should debate the president’s approach in Iraq. We can even question whether or not we should have entered Iraq in the first place. But we can’t afford to believe that this country is no better morally than Iran or North Korea and not pay a real price for such obvious foolishness. I don’t think this is phony patriotism, just common sense in a world that is clearly very dangerous.