MILLER ON DEMOCRATS
AJC has an interesting review of a forthcoming book by Sen. Zell Miller entitled A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat, wherein Miller critiques his nominal party and explains why he often votes with the Republicans.
In the sometimes piercing language that he is known for, Miller explains his views on how the Democratic Party is not representing Americans as it once did.
“Once upon a time, the most successful Democratic leader of them all, FDR, looked south and said, ‘I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill clad, ill nourished,'” Miller writes in the 255-page book. “Today our National Democratic leaders look south and say, ‘I see one third of a nation and it can go to hell.’ “
Honestly, that explanation strikes me as rather over-the-top. Saying that the Democrats ignore the South is like saying the Republicans ignore African Americans: there’s a kernel of truth but it oversimplifies things. In terms of national politics, it’s true that the GOP has become the majority party in most states in the South–although several states are always “in play” in presidential elections. If one looks at Electoral College results over time, this becomes apparent.
The Democratic party platform hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years or so. Indeed, if anything, they’re a more conservative party than they were in the days of Mondale, Dukakis, and the like. Zell Miller is a rather unusual southern politician who had been a Democrat for a long time and didn’t change his label once the parties realigned.
At the congressional level, it is certainly true that the Democrats are more liberal–and thus, less friendly toward southern social conservatives–than they were twenty years ago. But that’s simply a function of the fact that most conservative southern Democrats became Republicans. It’s not surprising that politicians from the Northeast and Midwest aren’t pushing policies that sit well in the South; that’s federalism and self-interest, though, not party politics.
(Hat tip: Kevin McGehee)
Update (952): As Steven Taylor noted yesterday, it’s almost certain that Miller’s replacement will be a Republican, since the Democrats are having a devil of a time coming up with a candidate. But, for all practical purposes, Miller was a Republican anyway–except for his crucial vote for Tom Daschle in organizing the Senate.