THE BLOGAL REPUBLIC OF IDEAS

Friday, December 10, 2004

A NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY

TULLIUS is no stranger to being out of power. Nor does he need to remind his informed reader that the Re Publica is the sum total of matters belonging to the people.

Governance is the Achilles' heel of the Republican Party and by pursuing good governance in the "red states" New Democrats can regain the ascendancy:

Consider the wise comments of Will Marshall:

  • NDOL: Heartland Strategy by Will Marshall: "Bush won nine (states) by single-digit margins. These include three Southern states (Florida, Arkansas, and, surprisingly, Virginia), three Midwestern states (Ohio, Iowa, and Missouri) and three Rocky Mountain states (New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado). Altogether, those nine states have 103 electoral votes. To win the next presidential election, assuming no further erosion in the blue states, a Democratic candidate would have to win about 20 percent of those votes. And by targeting these states and contesting them vigorously, Democrats would enhance the prospects of boosting their popular vote and sweeping more Senate and House candidates into office."
Wise governance is key. TULLIUS thinks the key to contesting those states vigorously is to strengthen the Party's position as the party of wise governance in those states, and throughout the republic for that matter.

E Pluribus Unum. Few of Tullius' readers may know that hundreds of American towns declared independence from the crown before Jefferson helped fuse these declarations into the July 4th declaration creating the world's greatest republic (and later founded the Democratic Republican Party). Few may know that thousands of city councils declared themselves opposed to the Vietnam War in the 1970s, thereby making it possible for Democratic Speaker "all politics is local" O'Neill to stop funding leading to American withdrawal from the war.

Thousands of Barack Obamas. Democratic activists can work in the red states and throughout the country to help thousands of Barack Obamas win elections and govern wisely--by focusing on the concerns of ordinary people (res publicae) where they live, work and educate their children.

The Republican Achilles' heel. Even though the Republican party controls Congress, the White House and the majority of state houses and state legislatures--there is no Republican theory of governance. There was no plan to win the peace in Iraq and no effective plan to win the war against the Jihadists. There is no plan to decrease the deficit--only a plan to make it larger. The education, health care and pension systems of America or in sorry condition. All of these are symptoms of a lack of governance. By aiming for good governance, New Democrats aim directly for the Republicans Achilles' heel. The purpose of government is to serve the people and those who know how to serve the people will be chosen by them to govern.

TULLIUS is certain that by good governance and sticking to the Party's core values (see TULLIUS' November 25th post) Democrats will regain the ascendant.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

HOW ISLAMIC DEMOCRACY MIGHT COME ABOUT IN IRAQ

Tullius finds Feldman's analysis of the election situation in Iraq interesting and potentially encouraging:


New America Foundation : article -2058- "The Sunni Angle" "The Sunni Angle" -2058-

CAN ISLAMIC DEMOCRACY REACH A TIPPING POINT?

TULLIUS believes the answer may well be--yes.

It used to be accepted as a matter of course that transition to democracy in Islamic societies might never happen. It was at best the endpoint of an arduous path. It might be better NOT to have democracy, because it might lead to extremist majorities taking power.

TULLIUS believes these arguments can no longer be accepted. Tullius has heard from Noah Feldman, fellow of the New America Foundation, and someone very experienced firsthand with working with Islamic Democrats in Iraq and elsewhere:

New America Foundation : article -1476- "Islam and Democracy: The Great Experiment" "Islam and Democracy: The Great Experiment" -1476-: "Success in Iraq would still be a one-off instance of foreign intervention, unlikely to be repeated elsewhere in the Muslim world because of its enormous cost. Yet the presence of nascent democracy in Iraq would affect autocratic Muslim rulers, fearful of intensified pressure. It would influence also ordinary citizens in Muslim countries, who would quickly come to see in a prosperous, democratic Iraq a model for themselves.

The mere presence of a democratic Iraq could eventually push Iran over the edge towards reform. It would not be surprising to see Saudi Arabia creating a consensus-based selection process for its consultative assembly, still some way from the legislatures that are becoming increasingly common in other Gulf emirates but an improvement over the wholly appointed body that currently exists. The Jordanian monarchy, which held long-delayed elections in 2003, could liberalise further."

Is this Feldman line of thinking far-fetched? TULLIUS thinks it is not.

Consider that in addition to what Feldman discusses here and in several other articles about the Iraqi elections:

1. Islamic Democracy is flourishing in Turkey--and is likely to build an even stronger foundation as Turkey bids to join the EU.

2. Palestinians will hold a Democratic election in January to elect a new leadership--these elections could lead to a new Palestinian Authority based on democratic and reform principles.

3. Even though there were setbacks, there is a strong democratic movement in Iran. It can be encouraged, helped and supported.

Simultaneous developments toward popular democracies in several Muslim countries could lead to a "tipping point" for a whole group of nations.

It would be naive in the extreme to think Democracy can flourish without strong institutions of civil society, tolerant discourse, an education system, and the rule of law--all things that the West (does the EU want to?) can encourage by investing in them.

TULLIUS believes we should not assume that autocracy will always be there. There is nothing inherently incompatible between Islam and Democracy. Islamic Democracy could be the way forward.





Sunday, November 28, 2004

TULLIUS notes many commentators in doubt over whether America's politics have "realigned" toward Republicanism. John Harris of the Washington Post states this is a question Parties are seeking to answer:

  • Was Nov. 2 Realignment -- Or a Tilt? (washingtonpost.com): "As some partisan operatives and political scientists see it, Bush's reelection victory and simultaneous Republican gains in the House and Senate suggest that an era of divided government and approximate parity between the major parties is giving way to an era of GOP dominance. By this light, the Republican advantage on the most important issues of the day -- the fight against terrorism, most of all -- and the party's uncontested control of the federal government leave it in a position to win long-term loyalty among key voter blocs and craft an enduring majority."
TULLIUS will have more to say about "realignment" in coming days--and what Democrats (both with big "D" and small "d" should do about it in coming days and weeks.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

HOW DEMOCRATS WILL RETURN TO POWER

TULLIUS believes democrats will return to power by identifying and adhering to their core values.

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

What are Democratic core values? They’re essential, enduring principles that have intrinsic value and importance. Core values are largely independent of the current environment, competitive requirements and fads.

Core values aren’t programs, policies or platforms adopted for this or that election—they’re the expression of who we are, what we have grown up believing in. Programs, policies, platforms (etc.) change over time in response to circumstances. But they grow out of a heritage of core values, and those don’t change (at least not very much) over time.

TULLIUS agrees with this:

"The Democratic Party is not a collection of diverse interests brought together only to win elections. We are united instead by a common history and heritage - by a respect for the deeds of the past and a recognition of the needs of the future. Never satisfied with today, we have always staked our fortunes on tomorrow" (President John F. Kennedy, remarks prepared for delivery to the Texas Democratic Party, November 22, 1963, but not delivered).

The Democratic core value in domestic policy has always been expanding opportunity for all Americans, as expressed through work to limit corporate power, establish a fair graduated income tax and to promote civil rights, affirmative action, women’s rights, trade union rights, labor standards, worker safety, access to higher education and health care for all Americans.

The Democratic core value in foreign policy has been progressive internationalism. Democrats have expressed this value through reducing trade barriers, leading the defeat of fascism and nazism, rebuilding Europe, expanding democracy in Latin America, supporting Israel, promoting human rights as a guiding principle and working to control nuclear weapons.

The core purpose of the Party is its reason for being. It is what a group lives out through its core values and through the policies, programs, platforms and agendas that are their outgrowth from decade to decade, generation to generation.

Let there be no doubt about what the Democratic core purpose is. Since the oldest continuously functioning democratic party was founded by Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, its core purpose and supreme goal has been the enlargement of liberty for individual human beings. The expansion of opportunity at home and liberty around the world are our linked purposes.

Jettisoning core purpose would be the death of the Party. From time to time outmoded ideas should be discareded—but how to decide what stays and what goes? Ideas consistent with the core purpose and values should stay—those that are not should go. Slavery and segregation, which once had a place in the Democratic Party, contradicted its core values and had to go.

No religious test. The Party should never adopt a religious test, no matter how tempting. Jefferson rightly saw that state sanctioned religious beliefs could serve as an instrument of tyranny, and made sure religious freedom was included in the Virginia Constitution on which the U.S. Constitution’s similar provision was patterned. And so the Party accepts religious expression, but must never adopt a religious test for leadership—it simply goes against its core values.

Some may argue for an isolationist or anti-war party, some for a Party more like the Republican Party in adopting overtly religious justifications for our positions. Whatever arguments or proposals don’t square with our core values and purpose must be rejected.

Expect lots of controversy ahead within the Democratic Party as it welcomes a new generation of leaders and looks for more effective ways to express democratic ideals to its fellow Americans. In defining and reaffirming core values, we seek to know the truth and to tell the truth.

TULLIUS agrees with the following exhortation:

“Fear not the path of truth for the lack of people walking on it.” (Senator Robert F. Kennedy, remarks prepared for delivery, June 6, 1968 but not delivered).

TULLIUS is no stranger to being out of power.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

DEMOCRATS SHOULD BE FOR NATION BUILDING

Tullius imagines all progressive Democrats to be for "nation building."

Tullius agrees with what he read in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. Proposals to charge Iraqis for nation building are not progressive:

"They are shortsighted in the extreme. It's not just that Iraq has pressing needs, which aren't likely to be addressed by oil revenues in the near future. It's that Iraq's Saddam-incurred debt has already been estimated at close to $130 billion.

"It's not a good idea to charge Iraqis for spending over which coalition authorities, not an Iraqi government, will have more or less total control. If perfectly legitimate Halliburton contracts are considered scandalous in some quarters when Americans are picking up the tab, imagine what critics would say if Iraqis were asked to pay them. "So it was about the oil . . ." The signal it would send to Iraqis wouldn't help the battle for hearts and minds."

THOSE WHO DO NOT LEARN FROM HISTORY

TULLIUS has made this point elsewhere: Not to know what has been transacted in former times is to be always a child. If no use is made of the labors of past ages, the world must remain always in the infancy of knowledge.

TULLIUS is reminded of attempts by King George III to charge American Colonies for the cost of the French and Indian War through taxes on stamps and tea. Was that progressive? What was the result?

TULLIUS is reminded of efforts by the French to require Germany to pay crushing reparation for World War I (over the objection of progressive Democrat Woodrow Wilson). Was that progressive? What was the result?

TULLIUS IS WATCHING THE DEBATE. As the debate unfolds in the coming days over nation building, we will see who is progressive and who is not--who chooses to remain in the infancy of knowledge.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

SECOND PHASE OF THE WAR: KNOW THE ENEMY

We are now entering the second phase of this global war. There will be debates and discussions within the coalition, and within the U.K. U.S. and U.N. about the right strategies and tactics to employ in this second phase.

TULLIUS suspects much disagreement in discussions about where we must head now in the war against Al Qaeda, the Baathists and their terrorist allies results from an age-old problem: failure to know the enemy (TULLIUS' Roman ancestors failed repeatedly to understand the Carthaginian foe and underestimated the abilities of its leader, Hannibal).

Referring to the present conflict as the "War on Terrorism" is not helpful in clarifying who the enemy is. TULLUS points to two insight pieces from one year ago which define the enemy in a more careful way. The first is from The Liberty Doctrine by McFaul:

THE ENEMY IS IDEOLOGICAL

"As in previous struggles, the essence of the enemy is ideological. Osama bin Laden and his followers do not want territory or treasure. They seek the destruction of liberal democracies and the way of life that these regimes provide. Like communism, extreme versions of Islamic fundamentalism offer followers a comprehensive set of beliefs that explain everything in the world. Communism framed world politics as a Manichean struggle between the forces of good and evil. So too do bin Laden and his ilk, though for them the enemy is modernity in all its variations. Radical communists did not seek a resolution of grievances with the West, a negotiated settlement including such things as Angolan independence and higher wages for West European workers. Rather, the mission was the total destruction of the United States, its allies, and its way of life. Colonialism and “worker exploitation� were good for the communist cause. Likewise, those embracing the Islamic totalitarianism propagated by bin Laden have not limited their aims to the creation of a Palestinian state, the removal of U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia, or even the obliteration of Israel. On the contrary, these issues help fuel anti-American mobilization and therefore serve bin Laden’s purposes. Their mission is much grander — the destruction of the West. Like some of the early Bolsheviks, bin Laden wants to join a world war between us and them as soon as possible. Bin Laden and his followers hoped that September 11 would spark a global war between Islam and the West. . . Saddam Hussein . . . allied with the more ideological and radical anti-Western zealots because of their mutual enemy — the United States."


THE ENEMY IS "A SMALL SLICE" OF ISLAM

Islamists, themselves a small group within Islam which holds out the promise for "liberating" Muslim societies, are of several varieties. Only a tiny percentage of Muslims engage in political projects that can properly be called Islamist. Islamists may be further divided into radical and moderate camps. Radicals aim to create an Islamic state through revolution and violence, while moderates are willing to pursue their political agendas within existing state institutions.

This point was made most forcefully by Vartan Gregorian, one of the world's great scholars in the history of Islam, in his essay, "Islam: a Mosaic not a Monolith," :

"Islamist extremists, for their part, have their own international agendas. Unable to unify any Muslim realm behind their militant campaigns, they have attempted to form a confederacy of like-minded extremists in many Muslim countries. These extremists see themselves as responsible to no state, not even to the ulama, and they act as freelance warriors in the name of Islam. They hope to grow their movements by winning sympathy and support in Muslim realms, championing and occasionally fighting for popular Muslim causes in Palestine, Kashmir, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Nagorno-Karabagh and elsewhere. Some of these militant Islamists are similar in some ways—including in the transparent futility of their goals—to 19th-century anarchists, who hoped their terrorism and assassinations would start a movement to overthrow governments, all of which, by their definition, were oppressive."

TULLIUS notes: as we enter the second phase of this global war it becomes more important than ever to know who the enemy is.

Monday, September 01, 2003

TULLIUS was dismayed to learn what he read in yesterday's Boston Globe about After the Terror by Canadian-British philsosopher Ted Honderich, who argues that some forms of terrorism--including Palestinian suicide attacks against Israeli civilians--are morally justifiable.

This book was recommended for publication by Jurgen Habermas, best known for his advocacy of liberal values. These do not seem to Tullius to be liberal values.

According to Jefferson Chase, Honderich's arguments are based on the proposition that prosperous capitalist nations are morally culpable for failing to combat poverty and exploitation in the world's poorer regions.

Noam Chomsky has praised the book as a "compelling and impressive contribution to our thinking about 9/11."

TULLIUS hopes that such views are not becoming as widespread as it might appear among some circles of the intelligentsia in Europe and the United States.

There is nothing progressive about such ideas. The rise of anti-semitism and its linkage to a neutral or even sympathetic position on terrorist attacks against civilians needs to be opposed.