When the Democratic party was winning more elections than it has in recent years, it was a lively bunch that allowed for differences of opinion within its ranks. Honest debate and fair compromise were seen as healthy aspects of a vigorous political party. Since allowing that natural style to degenerate into bitter arguments over syntax and purity tests, many Democrats have been so busy striking poses they couldn’t be bothered with the gritty business of winning elections.
My hope is that James Webb’s candidacy can lead Virginia Democrats out of that swamp. Then, too, I see that some of Webb’s rabid supporters are already insulting Democrats who oppose them in overblown ways that may make coming together after the primary more difficult. That won’t help defeat Allen, either.
If Webb can make most anti-Republicans realize that staying at home on election day, or throwing in with third parties, has been steadily electing Republicans -- politicians with an agenda that is heavily weighted toward enlarging and protecting the fortunes of the super wealthy -- then Webb will once again be an American hero.
For my money, the richest people in a society aren’t intrinsically better suited to make decisions for one and all. But the neoconservatives of the Republican Party sharply disagree with me on that. How about you, dear reader?
However, my fear is that if Webb wins the primary, those anti-Republicans who easily found ways to not support Al Gore and John Kerry will again seize on arcane differences they have with the nominee, so they can turn their backs on him, too.
Yes, Webb’s maverick streak could be a problem for the more-donkey-than-thou wing of the Democratic Party. If Webb can overcome this problem he should defeat George Allen in a state -- make that a “commonwealth” -- that’s nowhere near as conservative as it was when it elected Democratic governors Chuck Robb, Gerald Baliles and Doug Wilder in the 1980s. Think about that...
Bonus incentive: If Allen loses I suspect he’ll move back to Southern California and we’ll be rid of him for good.