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DEMOCRACY: Government & Politics | January 14, 2005


An E-Mail to a Democratic Activist

In Response to the Article "Clintonism, R.I.P.:

How Triangulation Became Strangulation",

By Chuck Todd, in The Atlantic Monthly (Jan./Feb. 2005)

Thank you...that was a very well written and thought-out piece. I can see what the central problem is: Too many voters think that the Democrats really don't stand for anything but winning. Kerry's positions were too nuanced to fit on a bumper sticker. Clinton's sexual escapade and, more significantly, his lying bald-faced to the public made all his compromising -- necessary for any governing -- seem very unseemly and, thus, made the apparent moral certitude of Bush all the more attractive (not unlike what got Jimmy Carter elected, after Nixon et al.). But the bottom line is as it has ever been in politics, or in almost any other realm of human relations: People will tend to believe in someone, and follow him or her, if they are seen to truly, sincerely, passionately believe in something greater than themself. That, to me, is the essence of both "charisma" and sincerity -- the two most attractive qualities in any politician, and the most dangerous if employed to the wrong ends (Hitler was positively mesmerizing; then again, so was Jesus).

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