A former senator exhorts the Democratic Party to lead the recovery from the catastrophic Bush years by returning to its core principles.
United States senator from Colorado (1975–87) and author of 16 books (James Monroe, 2005, etc.), Hart outlines a unified approach to the reconstruction of domestic politics and international relations. He begins with a declaration of defeat in Iraq and the excoriation of the Democratic leadership that supported or condoned the invasion: if only they had listened to the few brave souls, such as himself, who in 2002 were opposing intervention. The Iraq war today is the precise analogue of the final years of the Vietnam War, just as the Bush administration’s outrages against civil liberties, the author says, are akin to those of the Nixon Administration. Indeed, Hart never ceases to draw attention to the relevance of the ’70s, when he began his senatorial career—he would have it that the Democratic Party has done nothing right since. The four great Democratic presidents of the 20th century epitomized the party’s core principles: Franklin Roosevelt, for his defense of community; Harry S. Truman, for his belief in alliance-based internationalism; JFK’s call to civic duty; and Lyndon Johnson’s push for equal rights. In the 1980s, however, the Democratic Leadership Council induced the party to abandon principle in favor of centrist positions and electoral success. Hart acknowledges that the party has suffered in part because it sought to realize its tenets in outmoded ways. “Security,” he suggests, is the umbrella concept that can cover all those principles in the future: security of livelihood, community, the environment, energy supplies and borders. These goals cannot be achieved on just the domestic level, he says—they require the re-integration of the United States into the international community.
Some penetrating insights, particularly regarding the tension between libertarianism and civic duty. But this is really a think piece padded with cliché and bombast.