By promoting so radical, deregulated and corrupt a form of capitalism, George W. Bush has driven the Democrats to a defense of first principles that they haven’t mounted in years: Yes, they believe in government. In the face of an increasingly dysfunctional private system, all call for a variant of national health insurance. With American corporations now creating so many new jobs overseas, the candidates all back energy conservation, transportation and kindred government-funded programs both for their own sake and to generate new employment here at home.
Karl Rove and George Bush have nothing to offer an anxious working and middle class that will address any of these things. They plan, rather, to win their support by demonizing the Democratic nominee on cultural issues. That won’t be all that easy to do against the Kerry who addressed the nation on Tuesday night. “I depended on the same band of brothers I depended on 30 years ago,” said Kerry, thanking Max Cleland and a bunch of guys wearing the insignias of their old units for delivering in New Hampshire as they had in Iowa. “We’re a little older, a little grayer, but we still know how to fight for our country!”
In an anxious nation, with wages stagnating and new jobs nowhere to be seen, the Democrats are settling on a tough, smart candidate. He may just go all the way.