Analysis of Kerry’s "liberal" label from the Washington Post

The article itself is fairly interesting conventional wisdom, for the most part… a few things that caught my attention:

1. The contention that a “liberal” voting record means a lot less than it used to… because basically speaking, the legislation offered in Congress, on average is more conservative than in the past (at least on economic issues and issues of governmental activism). This would square with a recent analysis (Thomas Frank, Red-State America against Itself) I saw about how the DLC has been pushing the Democrats to “forget blue-collar voters and concentrate instead on recruiting affluent, white-collar professionals who are liberal on social issues” by “stand[ing] rock-solid on, say, the pro-choice position while making endless concessions on economic issues, on welfare, NAFTA, Social Security, labor law, privatization, deregulation, and the rest of it.” (*)

2. A related development, according to the ADA, the average House Democrat earned a rating of 90 out of 100 on a series of twenty important votes. In 1980, the average was 58. Not only is legislation more conservative in general, but it voting is more polarized.

3. But, of most interest to STF readers, is the rather pathetic quote from the ADA’s communication’s director, Don Kusler – someone needs to tell him that we’ve identified the source of his problems (and that he should start throwing some of ADA’s funding muscle behind organizations like the Commonweal Institute).


For his part, Kusler wishes that a word that he regards as having an honorable heritage — backing civil rights at home and robust human rights policies abroad — will be one Democratic presidential nominees will again embrace.

Conservatives have “been working on redefining the word ‘liberal’ for decades, and turning it into a four-letter word,” Kusler said. “We don’t want to give up the word. We’ve been losing the fight for the definition.”

No kidding Don. Time for a new communications strategy? I think so.

Thomas Leavitt

* obligatory poke at my deluded Democrat friends: Can you say John Kerry? I think you can: no on DOMA, yes on welfare reform, yes on NAFTA. To cite three examples. Fits like a glove.