Sunday, May 12, 2002
Smart, straightforward piece by David Broder on why McCain will never become a Democrat.
Also, however, an obvious one. What's interesting to speculate about is: why so many neo-liberals are enchanted by the prospect?
The answer: they hate pretty much everything the Democratic Party stands for. They are pro-free-trade, want a strong national defense, are sympathetic to school choice, hate farm subsidies and other corporate welfare, favored welfare reform, support tort reform (or, at least, are opposed to the trial-lawyerification of liberalism), are concerned about the growth of middle-class entitlements, are unenthusiastic about affirmative action, and are pro-choice but don't like seeing abortion made into the be-all and end-all of politics. As I noted in my critique of Peter Beinart's most recent column, everything they support about the Clinton years was a Republican idea.
These erstwhile liberals are, ideologically, more in the GOP camp than the Democratic one, but they won't leave because they have a reflex hostility to certain GOP interest groups. And they like McCain because he has a similar hostility. He hates corporate welfarism, which is a bi-partisan problem. He is willing to take the Democratic side on tax cuts - though he favors cutting taxes, just not the way Bush's tax cut did - and he has a positive vision for the government in American life - unlike some leave-me-alone types who think railing against Washington is a coherent conservative philosophy (note: Bush isn't one of those). And he's hostile to the religious right.
But McCain's apostasy on Republican litmus-tests pales compared to his absolute rejection of Democratic ones. He has absolutely nothing to offer the interest groups who run the national Democratic Party. And that's why they want McCain to become a Democrat: so he can cleanse the party of those interest groups.
McCain's popularity among some Democrats, then, is evidence that the Democratic Party is in deep doo-doo. Some of its smartest boosters don't believe in it anymore, so much so that they want to see the party taken over and re-made by a maverick Republican.