Democrats & Liberals Archives

Not Nuts

Today, “liberal” is just another word for “not nuts.” -Eric Alterman, 2003

Being fairly far to the left on the political spectrum, it was inevitable that I was initially disappointed by the Democratic convention. By and large, the speakers stuck to familiar platitudes. As I thought about it, however, I realized that there was only one basic message from the Democratic Party, which may be enough to (re)win the presidency. That message: We’re not nuts.


While the concept of not being nuts may sound vacuous, it actually has a lot of different dimensions. At this moment in our political history, it primarily means not initiating any reckless military adventures. One of Kerry’s few firm promises in his acceptance speech was that he wouldn’t go to war unless he needed to. If President Kerry says that he wants to invade Iran, and that the Iranians will greet us with flowers and sweets, it will be fair to say that he not only broke his promise but revealed himself to be as nuts as his predecessor.

The Bush administration’s insults to the Constitution are too numerous to mention here. Suffice to say that putting a man who is morally opposed to dancing in charge of law enforcement was pretty nuts, and after 9/11 we were in a whole new universe of misguided executive power.

In the cases of Iraq and the Constitution, Bush voters can be forgiven for not knowing what he was up to when they voted for him. There is no such excuse in regard to Bush’s economic policies. Anyone who isn’t an idiot should have figured out that he wouldn’t be able to pass a massive tax cut, save Social Security and Medicare, strengthen the military, balance the budget, and “leave no child behind”. (Still it might have been nice if the news media had helped slower folks come to this realization…) Kerry, to his credit, is actually proposing bringing in more government revenue. Hopefully, this candor won’t cost him the election.

Ultimately, Republican majorities in Congress will likely prevent Kerry from doing much for his ideological brethren besides appoint not-nuts judges. If the “not nuts” message doesn’t fly, a good backup might be: Outside of vigorously fighting terrorism, we promise to do nothing. After four years with the most tragically activist president in modern history, a “do nothing” presidency may look appealing.

Posted by Woody Mena at August 1, 2004 8:13 PM