A few months ago I threw out a few quickly composed thoughts about Republican "common sense." Thinking Out Loud through the question of why college-educated, white, religiously oriented Americans, in general, more often than not, vote Republican, I suggested:

"[T]he rhetoric of the Republican Party acknowledges the God that the majority worships and honors expressions of love for the nation, which a majority still believe to be the "last best hope for mankind." During the generation following the Civil War, the Republican Party chastised the Democrats: "Not every Democrat was a traitor, but every traitor was a Democrat." Today, it seems as if not all Democrats are America-haters, but all America-haters are Democrats. It is easy to make the case in the heartland that the Republican Party is for God and country (and the other guys are not so sure)."

You may review the full post here.

Important Disclaimer: Let the record show that I believe wholeheartedly that the party of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, William Jennings Bryan, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Jack Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Paul Tsongas, Paul Wellstone, Joe Lieberman and Russ Feingold does not hate America. The Democratic Party has played a vital and positive role in shaping American history and political culture. I sincerely hope that tradition continues in perpetuity.

Having said that, the Democratic Party has some exigent problems in terms of public perception and, more importantly, policy making, which are rooted in real structural and systemic weaknesses in basic Democratic Party DNA.

What is wrong with the Democratic Party?

A related sub-question: Why do so many regular Americans see the Democrats as oddly out of step with their values?

Mostly, it is the result of the complicated make-up of the Democratic Party coalition.

Take Michael Moore (please). Moore is a radical thinker (talker) on the outskirts of the Democratic Party mainstream. As you may remember, Moore supported Ralph Nader and the Green Party in 2000. He felt guilty for contributing to the Bush presidency, so he came back into the fold in 2004. Democrats were very happy to have him (intent on making him feel at home), famously seating him next to former-President Jimmy Carter in a privileged box for dignitaries at the Democratic National Convention.

Does Moore hate America? He is definitely cynical about our history and our system. Granted, he is more anti-Bush, anti-Republican and anti-wealth than "anti-American." On the other hand, if you follow his line of reasoning, you find it pretty difficult to see the United States as anything less than a malevolent power, insensitive to its own citizens and a danger to the world (too many evil Republicans in power for too long). Is this an America-hating position? Reasonable people will disagree, but we can safely say that his views are certainly not an America-loving perspective. Many Americans find that fine distinction difficult to maintain.

Am I picking on an extremist who is unrepresentative of his party? I don't think so. I know literally scores of rational Democrats who went to Fahrenheit 911, laughing and applauding and praising Moore for his high art and insightful contemporary history. I have friends who quote Moore (often unknowingly) and build points on his interpretation of history (once again, often unknowingly). My point: Moore is not an isolated case.

Why do Democrats put themselves in such a vulnerable position? As I say above, many agree with him in principle. More importantly, politics makes for strange bedfellows; the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Bush and the Republicans are the enemy. The Democratic Party cannot afford to lose Michael Moore (and his ilk) to radical third parties; that is, the Democrats cannot win national elections without the Michael Moore fringe in America. Therefore, they are stuck with Michael Moore as a valued ally and celebrated spokesman.

The Democratic Party has several other problem constituencies within its coalition, including but not limited to American academia, old guard feminists and the so-called civil rights organizations. I intend to discuss these other factors in the days to come.