This was very true in 1966 when Democrats faced the death of the New Deal Thesis in results that brought Eisenhower Republicans and one Ronald W. Reagan to prominence.
They blamed Vietnam. They blamed poor campaigns. They insisted that liberalism was intact, and the search was on for to either return President Johnson to his liberal roots or find someone who was a more "true liberal."
The exact same thing, in reverse, is happening right now among Republicans. It wasn't the Thesis, it was how it was implemented. Bush and his team were not "real" conservatives. The Clinton and Netroots Democrats who came to power just ran better campaigns. Real conservatism is still intact, and the search is on to find a successor to Bush who is a "true conservative."
The result is a vacuum in which a new Thesis can be born. While the press is yammering about how Democrats have to rush in and prove themselves worthy of governing, the fact is that the Republican party has not yet even begun the task that must lie before it, which is creating new Myths and Values, relevant to today's problems, that will engage voters.
Just as in Goldwater's time, Netroots Democrats have begun building a real infrastructure that can have that discussion. Since that structure is based on the Internet, it is inevitable that Internet values are assumed. Ideas like openness, consensus, and connectivity are taken for granted. And it's what is assumed true, not what is argued about, that lies at the heart of any new political Myth.
Regardless of where they stand on specific issues, no Democrat wants to get rid of Internet organizing. The idea of building from the grassroots up is accepted, even if some wish mainly to direct this energy toward their own causes.
This is a process agreement, not a programmatic one, as the Goldwater Thesis was. It's also an agreement that is held throughout the party, again unlike the Goldwater Thesis, which had to fight for 16 years after Goldwater's nomination to take power.
How do we turn that into policy? Again, we start with areas of wide
agreement. Net neutrality, more unlicensed spectrum, more antitrust
enforcement in the telecom space. More science, more research, more
funding for cures -- stem cell research is a true wedge issue.
And then we can start thinking about deeper questions, such as:
- How do we get the most from every mind, at every stage of life?
- How do we moderate online discussion so it leads to solutions?
- How do we leverage online resources to help people find and build solutions to their own problems?
Again it's process, not ideology. That's the heart of the Open Source Thesis, a search for broad agreements rather than narrow majorities. Everyone has something to contribute, and we need every possible contribution.
Because the problems we face do not allow for an ideological solution.
- The replacement of hydrocarbons is not an ideological cause. It
should be a business problem, once conditions for making it one are put
- The saving of the planet is not an ideological question. It's as old as Teddy Roosevelt.
- Engaging the developing world should not be an ideological
question. Without that engagement the first two problems can't be
- Science is not an ideology, nor is it an ideological pursuit.
Start with where we agree, and there you will find the programmatic path within the Open Source Thesis.