Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Democrats Would Shun Bentsen Nowadays

Jonathan Gurwitz of the San Antonio Express-News has written an excellent editorial pointing out that the late, great Texas Senator, Lloyd Bentsen, would likely be unwelcome in today's Democratic Party. Bentsen, who was partisan enough to earn the 1988 vice-presidential bid, was nonetheless an independent thinker who was unafraid to embrace traditionally conservative ideas (particularly on the economy) if he thought it was the right thing for his constituents and for the nation.

Such a Centrist temperament would make Bentsen an apostate in the current Democratic Party—a Joe Lieberman in cowboy boots.

Gurwitz’s argument is not a new one to anyone on this forum. But it’s an accurate argument and one worth remembering.

Bentsen was, after all, the last Texas Democrat to be elected to the Senate. And it isn’t that Texans have become more conservative in the past 20 years (the majority of my fellow Texans have always been libertarian-leaning, god-fearing conservatives), it’s that the national Democratic Party has become more liberal and less welcoming to even the mildest of conservative positions.

If the Democrats want to ever win back places like Texas, the solution is not to cast out the ideological and temperamental descendents of Lloyd Bentsen. The solution is to embrace such moderates and allow the party to once again represent a broad range of ideas. Unfortunately, that is simply not the way the party seems headed.


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