Warning, I will say some very un-nice things about machine democrats and Libertarians. If you are easily offended by such (and I know some of you are), turn back now!
Ummm....two machine democrats from the Clintonista wing of the Democratic Party recapitulate the basics of the Clinton agenda plus two new trendy issues. And, "surprise!" the Clintons like it. This is the end of liberty as we know it?
That hardcore Libertarians find this yet-more-proof-of-the-evil-that-is-the-d
On the other hand, I cannot believe how pathetic this "new contract with America" is. Talk about your warmed over ideas. It is basically the key components of the Clinton agenda, less the new economy stuff and with the addition of the War on Terror and energy dependency.
From where I sit, this says more about internal politics within the Democratic party than about actual positions of the Democratic Party as an entity. Not that I expect Libertarians to follow this (Libertarians have as much interest or knowledge of internal Democratic Party manueverings as religious conservatives have of the nuances of Islamic politics -- for Libertarians, it's all "Democartic-facists" with as much differentiation as "Islamo-facists"), but it's important.
Basically, there is significant tension in the party right now between the traditional Dems and the "progressive Dems" or the "net roots." Since the late 1980s, the traditional Dems (supported by the Democratic Leadership Council) have sought to promulgate policies that they regard as "centrist." This means embracing certain issues (reproductive rights, gun control, environmentalism, universal healthcare) while still seeking to portray themselves as friendly to business and economic growth. Hence the Clinton enthusiastic embrace of global trade agreements (despite opposition from unions and others), enhancing intellectual property rights, and supporting other "new economy" economic initiatives. They are also sensitive to historic weakness on national security, and therefore adopted a moderate approach on Iraq.
Which is why the "big ideas" of community service are so attractive. They are non-controversial (to all but the Libertarians, but its not like that is a vote block the Dems could ever get) and resonate with "traditional" voters (who think all young people these days have it soft and don't understand what hard work and love of country are about).
Progressive democrats take the social issues for granted and are much more interested in basic economic and social justice issues. They tend toward anti-globalization, anti-war, and significant restrictions on the power of corporations. They regard traditional Dems as wussies who refuse to take a real position and are often indistinguishable from Republicans.
Progressive Dems believe that Democratic Party reversals have flowed primarily from the refusal of the party to stand for principles. They want a party with strong progressive principles focused on limiting the power of corporations over public policy in addition to strong positions on social issues. By contrast, traditional Dems regard the Progressive Dems as dangerous radicals, out of touch with the mainstream, and therefore likely to lose the election.
Repeatedly, the Democratic Party has failed to come up with consensus positions on key issues. The progressive Dems and the traditional Dems have radically divergent views on critical issues. Unsurprisingly, this leads to factionalism within the party with various segments trying to promote their vision.
Hence "the Plan." The likelihood that this plan gets to be a central component of the Democratic platform is, IMO, pretty damn low. The fact that lifelong Democratic pols think that something this thin and uninspiring is going to unite the party -- or even the elements of it capable of commanding real voting blocks -- merely confirms for me how out of touch they are with a rising tide of progressive Dems. The progressives may not constitute a majority of the party, but there are simply too many of them, and too many of them energized and devoted, to get suppressed by this kind of "sooth-'em-down" glop.
Of course, I may just be kidding myself.