August 10, 2003

MOST PEOPLE (INCLUDING NICK) would regard Nick Denton as well to my left, to the extent that such terms still have meaning. But his advice to the Democrats sounds a lot like mine:

All this is standard practice in American presidential elections: win the primaries on the flank, and come back to the center for the main contest. But it leaves one feeling like a kibitzer at a chess game: the lethal move is so obvious, but your guy just can’t see it. The Democratic candidate for president should appropriate the traditional Republican values of limited government, individual liberty, and fiscal responsibility.

Yep. Unfortunately, Nick’s right about this part, too:

I am convinced that a candidate running against Bush on this platform could win the coasts, a large slice of the American West, and maybe even some of the New South. There’s only one problem: he would not survive the Democratic primary.

And that goes to institutional problems that the Democrats haven’t even addressed, much less solved. And, of course, the Republicans have similar institutional problems, which is why they’ve drifted from that traditional message. For both parties, the question is why uphold values that, whatever their virtue, don’t produce much in the way of graft, if there’s not a competitor who will make you do so.

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