Saturday :: Jan 8, 2005

The Meaning of Harry Reid


by rayman

Although I was initially disappointed when Harry Reid was selected as Senate minority leader over Dick Durbin, I've recently become more intrigued by Reid. Specifically, Reid represents a type of Democrat--socially conservative and economically populist--that has a long tradition within the party, going back to Harry Truman, William Jennings Bryan, and, if you want to go way back, Andrew Jackson. In today's Democratic party, however, this ideological combination is an anachronism. Indeed, the party is presently comprised of urban/suburban social liberals (now that conservative machine Democrats, like Richard J. Daley, no longer wield as much power), while most of the Red State social conservatives, far from being the successors to the rabble-rousing populists of yore, are unapolagetic corporate tools (think Max Baucus, John Breaux, and Charlie Stenholm).

Thus, I'm interested to see if Reid, with his unique background (for a modern-day Democrat, anyway), can resuscitate this old-school type of Democrat, or whether he merely offers a quaint example of how far the party has shifted from this traditional model. Personally, I believe the latter is a more accurate scenario than the former. However, if Reid is indeed able to revive this Truman-esque type of Democrat, the party yet be able to bring white working class voters back into the fold. Of course, the challenge would then be to create a tenable balance between this culturally conservative voting bloc and organizations like NARAL, GLAAD, NAACP, and the Sierra Club, but I'll leave that discussion for another day.

rayman :: 12:21 PM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!