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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Revisionist Politics

The Liberal Party is that liberal and tends to support liberals, not moderates, whether they are Republican or Democrat.

We were surprised to read this short but revisonist post by Karol of Alarming News, though she was referencing the usually accurate Daniel Peterson.

"If you ever wanted to understand NY's weird third party system (the 'liberal' party is not that liberal and tends to support Republicans, for example), Daniel Peterson has a good starter post."

Peterson's descriptions of the political parties are a good starting point but one actually should go back to the American Labor Party in the 1930s and 1940s to understand the machinations of cross-endorsements.

We have a big problem with the following synopsis of the Liberal Party.

"Its registered Liberals are supposedly the centrist New Yorkers and if you're really a "Leftist" you should be with the Working Families or Greenies."

There is nothing centrist about the Liberal Party.

Very little is centrist about many of the New York City factions of the Republican Party, for that matter.  The Republican Party in the five boroughs, with the exception of Staten Island, Bay Ridge in Brooklyn and portions near suburban counties, tends to be a liberal party.

I would agree that the Green and Working Families Party have replaced the "lefties" of the old American Labor Party.  However, many who inhabit the Liberal and even Independence parties are as off the beaten track as the old left wingers.

I was puzzled why Peterson didn't make any mention of the Catholic, populist or conservative traditions that have encompassed so much of both major parties, particularly the Democrats.

"Its registered Democrats are also a very big mixed bag. In fact, there are so many different ideologies in the NY Democratic Party, the one thing that brings them together is the fact that Democrats frequently have Primaries and field candidates from the far left to the middle-right. If you live in NY, in order to participate on a yearly basis, joining the Democratic Party seems like the smart thing to do."

Liberals, leftists and the outright machine-oriented socialists rule the Democratic Party -- but the registration has been surprisingly conservative at times (and certainly Republican, with the right candidates).

Across New York State, outside New York City, the conservative and moderate branch of the Democratic registration has historically voted for... Republicans and those Democrats actually tend to vote on the Conservative Party line rather than apply the vote to the GOP line.

Since 1993, Republican mayoral candidates have defeated Democrats.  In 1989, Rudy Giuliani lost to David Dinkins with 49 percent of the vote. Though certainly not cozy with Conservatives, Republicans like Giuliani found victory amid this Democratic registration by playing the social liberal-fiscal conservative-tough on crime approach.

Outside New York City, these kind of Republicans don't attract the support of conservative and Catholic Democrats.

Where I do agree with Peterson is that the Conservative Party should reach out to pro-life voters who have been registered in the Right-To-Life Party.

He makes a mistake calling them "liberal Democrats" though.

"The Right-to-Life Party became a strong party with ballot status from 1978 to 2002, but when they finally failed to get 50,000 votes, they got bumped off. When RTL was knocked off, it was a good time for the Conservative Party to try and coopt registered RTLs into their party. However, cross-endorsing George Pataki in 1998 and especially in 2002 may have made it hard for RTLs to consider joining the Conservative Party. Also, many RTLs are liberal democrats and even though the Democratic Party has outcast them, they cannot imagine joining the Conservative Party based on one issue that even the CP hasn't adhered to in recent years."

There are many liberal Catholics among pro-life voters -- though a lot more synergy with conservatives than many observers want to admit -- and there are many "pro-choice" Catholics among voters in both major parties, who cause more of the problem for present-day conservatives.

These are subjects that many political consultants don't like talking about but one can find the source of many voting trends within the history of Catholic voters; including the Catholic worker movement, social welfare initiatives, human rights ministry and an opposition to the death penalty.

By the way, the RTL Party is attempting a comeback this year but they are yet to endorse a candidate for governor.

Peterson's observations are a good read and an education on New York's motley crew of smaller political parties.

Why can't we all get along?

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