Monday, December 06, 2004

What to do with Michael Moore

There's been some back-n-forth in the blogosphere the last couple of days between Atrios, Kevin Drum and Matthew Yglesias about opposition to the Afghan War. Ancillary to this debate has been the question of the role Michael Moore has played in Democratic politics. Specifically, it has lead to the question of whether Democrats should embrace or repudiate him. I won't try to summarize the points-of-view of those involved in this debate, but I would like to bring up something that I haven't seen mentioned in this discussion.

One of the knocks against the Democratic party in recent years is that it is the party of left-wing, elite, ivory tower intellectuals. The Democratic party is criticized, both by the Republicans, and by some Democrats, as having abandoned its blue collar roots. This is a fair criticism. Several of the most prominent Democrats of the last few years have rarely had to earn an "honest" living. Many in the middle part of the electorate simply don't know how to relate to the candidates the party has put forth of late.

Here's what I would like to point out: Michael Moore is the most prominent blue collar left-wing (would-be) Democrat in the country. No one could accuse him of being an ivory tower intellectual. Moore's popularity is based, in part, on the fact that he provides a criticism of Democratic elitism from the left (as opposed to the multitude of said criticism coming from the right). Moore has an ability to appeal to the blue collar segment of this country in a way that few Democratic leaders can anymore.

And many of those Democratic leaders want nothing to do with the guy. Indeed, many of them want to join with their Republican opponents in using support for Moore as some kind of litmus test for acceptability in Democratic circles.

Nothing could please the Republicans more than for Democrats to continue to use Moore as some kind of dividing line in the party. Until the Democrats can treat Moore as an acceptable voice of opinion within the party, it will continue to struggle in the fight to win over the working class that he represents

(And Matt, no one is saying that criticism of Moore shouldn't be allowed. We're only saying that it shouldn't be required.)

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