‘Dr.’ Shipp’s cure for the Democratic blues Bobby Beecher

by | November 26, 2004 12:00 am

The recent round of elections produced a lot of surprises. President Bush defeated John Kerry with relative ease, defying the pollsters and dismaying the liberals so profoundly that many New Englanders are threatening suicide or secession. Leftist lunatic Michael Moore has even produced a map of the new United States of Canada.

In Georgia, decades of Democratic dominance evaporated like the morning dew. The GOP now controls both Houses of the legislature and the Governor’s Mansion. Most Georgia voters are delighted. But Atlanta pundit Bill Shipp is as sulky and sullen as his neo-Canadian colleagues.

Shipp’s despair was obvious in a recent column. He dreaded an “elephant-led General Assembly” and lamented Republican claims to a “monopoly on morality.”

Nevertheless, Shipp was able to discard the sackcloth and ashes long enough to attempt a “painful resuscitation” of his beloved but moribund Democrats. Yet his prescription for the state’s ailing beasts of burden was, to say the least, ironic: act like Republicans.

Shipp urged Democrats to “start over” and “bring in new leadership,” such as conservative U.S. Representative Jim Marshall of Macon. Shipp called Marshall a “savvy Democrat” of the Sam Nunn variety. He said that Marshall is even trusted by the “good old boys,” a snide reference to Georgians liberals like Shipp ignore until they realize Democrats can’t win elections without them.

But rebuilding “the Democratic Party on the Marshall model” may not be as easy as Bill Shipp imagines. Indeed, Jim Marshall may represent the proverbial exception that proves the rule. The Party of Jefferson and Jackson has become so liberal that voters no longer believe it when Democratic candidates claim to be conservative.

Consider, for example, the recent state legislative races. In nearly every contest, the Democratic contender tried to run to the right of his Republican opponent. That deceptive strategy clearly failed. The GOP strengthened its hold on the Georgia Senate and gained first-time control of the House of Representatives.

Shipp said Georgia wouldn’t prosper unless “its two principal political parties are competitive.” Dispirited Democrats should be forgiven if they fail to see how becoming ersatz Republicans will enhance their competitive edge.

Moreover, Democratic leaders might be equally confounded by Shipp’s advice to marginalize the party’s most reliable voters: African-Americans and homosexuals.

As a good liberal, Shipp no doubt considers himself a titan of tolerance. But his desire to “rescue the dying donkey” is so strong he’s willing (temporarily, of course) to consign blacks to the back of the bus and gays to the shame and seclusion of the closet.

Shipp said, for example, that the “state Democratic Party is becoming identified as the black party.” And he worried that pandering to African-Americans (putting “one racial group’s wish list ahead of everybody else’s”) might lead “to permanent and powerless minority status” for Democrats.

Shipp told the Democratic Party’s gay activists “to bow out of the spotlight.” He also urged them to abandon a threatened court challenge to the recently approved marriage amendment. He said a victory in the courts would “overjoy” the state’s “religious zealots” and “nut jobs,” who “would make certain the marriage measure reappears on the 2006 ballot once again to galvanize right-wing voters.”

Shipp’s antipathy for conservative Christians and the “anti-gay-marriage clergy” is revealing. As pollster Pat Caddell pointed out in a recent interview on Fox News, most Georgia Democrats voted in favor of the gay marriage ban. So Shipp’s denunciations of voters “who insist on meddling in people’s private lives” actually undermine efforts to invigorate the Democratic Party’s weakened right wing.

But Bill Shipp doesn’t really want a moderate Democratic Party as a competitive counterweight to the GOP, one that will “react responsibly to the people’s needs.” He wants to see a liberal oligarchy beneath the Gold Dome in Atlanta.

Perhaps Mr. Shipp should move to the United States of Canada. –

Bobby Beecher is our regular guest columnist. He can be reached at bobbybeecher@hotmail.com

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