Sunday, January 04, 2009

Tim!

I have always liked Tim Kaine and I think he'll make an excellent DNC Chairman, though the position is a little less critical with a Democratic President.

Kaine and Virginia Democrats generally speaking benefited greatly from Howard Dean's 50 state strategy. Obama has embraced that strategy and I believe that Kaine has some unique abilities in that regard.

Dean devoted resources to building party infrastructure in politically unfriendly environments, refusing to allow the traditional conservative social wedge issues to be the only policy battles on which campaigns were fought. Part of this was a concerted effort to weave specific progressive policies into a wider narrative in which progressive 'values' were expressed as Judeo-Christian 'values.' It was critical to national efforts to fight back against the notion that only the GOP could be the party of faith and religiosity.

Tim Kaine, a devout Roman Catholic, was seen as something of a poster child for this effort when he was elected Governor of Virginia in 2005. Unafraid to discuss his faith, he was able to demonstrate that his policy positions were grounded in a relatable world view.

Barack Obama has been able to accomplish the same thing, attracting young evangelicals and religious Latinos to his electoral coalition.

One of the primary functions of the DNC Chair over the next 4-8 years will be to go on television and beat the drum for party policy. Kaine is a good communicator for the reasons I've described above and is as solid choice as DNC Chair as I can come up with.

5 comments:

alli said...

He's not as unabashedly pro-choice as I think the DNC chair needs to be. Obama should have let Dean stay. Where is Dean's role in the new administration? Where is the reward for all the bowls of shit he had to eat? It's infuriating to me.

Kevin Allman said...

Eli, you say:

"One of the primary functions of the DNC Chair over the next 4-8 years will be to go on television and beat the drum for party policy. Kaine is a good communicator for the reasons I've described above and is as solid choice as DNC Chair as I can come up with."

Kaine is anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, even anti-civil unions for gays. He's actually to the right of Joe Lieberman on these issues. How can he beat the drum for party policy effectively?

The RNC would never, ever select a pro-choice, pro-gay marriage chairman. I have no idea why the Dems would do such a thing in reverse, other than their unstinting, spectacular capacity for not standing up for their own beliefs.

E said...

Alli, because the DNC becomes a communications tool for the President, Dean would not have been permitted the same degree of independence he had. Dean knew this and quit. I believe he can be more effective from the outside than he would as just another Obama spokesperson.

Kaine on the other hand, will be an excellent spokesperson. His more conservative view points on some social issues are rather inconsequential because the Obama administration will not be picking fights on those cultural wedge issues and Democrats, as the party in power, will not have to play defense against GOP attempts to erode rights.

Rather, Obama will be working to use his own wedges (EFCA, universal health care, etc, etc) to pry apart GOP coalitions. Kaine can be quite helpful in that regard.

Kaine or no Kaine there was no chance we'd be seeing a whole lot of substantive top-down action on gay rights save for killing DADT, extending workplace protections, the standard Human Rights Campaign incremental change bullshit.

LGBT activists have some growth to do at the grassroots level, and I see a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the ultimate realization of that movement.

Kaine is a good pick for DNC Chair, given the platform of the Obama campaign and the anticipated Democratic Party agenda.

If you'd like to argue that the party agenda isn't progressive enough, that's fine. But Tim Kaine will have little power over policy.

Dean, Kaine, Obama have all taken turns arguing for culture war truce and the cultivation of larger coalitions in support of a platform centered on labor, the environment, healthcare, the war, etc.

Litmus tests on abortion is something that the GOP does because the GOP doesn't have any agenda to speak of beyond that.

Democrats should be different. I don't support the sacrifice of things like universal health care because of some notion that everyone in party leadership positions needs to have the same exact view on stupid culture war battles that gov't shouldn't even be touching anyway in the midst of two wars, a recession, etc etc etc.

jeffrey said...

Litmus tests on abortion is something that the GOP does because the GOP doesn't have any agenda to speak of beyond that.

Or to put it another way, the GOP has an anti-health care, anti-union, anti-working class agenda that it can't sell to most voters without emphasizing cultural issues.

I'm indifferent on Kaine as DNC chair but E does a fine job of defending the choice.

However, as someone who believes in the fundamental right of gays to be treated with dignity and equality under the law, I think that you run the risk of appearing to belittle a serious question of moral principle. I know this is not your intention. But it might be useful for progressives to neutralize traditionally conservative "wedge issues" by fighting back rather than running away.

I expect conservatives to try to tie the so-called "progressive agenda" to social wedge issues in the coming year. (i.e. "National health care = forced abortions and sex ed and federal money for the "gay agenda" and so forth) Democrats will have to have a way to answer this sort of bullshit.

All told, however, if you're unhappy with the potential policy under the Obama Administration, you're beef should be with Obama himself.

E said...

Jeffrey's reads me well. I had a hard time crafting that response because of my strong personal convictions regarding LGBT rights.

From a tactical and strategic standpoint, however, I think that gay rights activists would be wise to concentrate on grassroots movement building outside the infrastructure of a political party apparatus.

Jeffrey says that "it might be useful for progressives to neutralize traditionally conservative 'wedge issues' by fighting back rather than running away."

He sure is right about that. Progressives should be fighting those battles, Democrats should not. Progressive activists, people outside government, are afforded the opportunity to consider concepts of moral principle without consideration of political expediency or legislative strategy etc.

I'm generally optimistic about the LGBT rights movement. I think the cultural progress made over the course of my short lifetime is indicative that more substantive change will come sooner than we might think. But it will come because the LGBT grassroots and straight allies force it, not because Democrats feel obligated to reward the Human Rights Campaign for their party loyalty.