Harold Ford at Brown
Former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. (D) spoke at Brown last night. The ProJo (Scott McKay) reports:
Democrats from New England and other deep blue regions of the country must understand that their party cannot succeed in the South and West without acknowledging that many voters consider the party too far left on social and economic issues, said Harold Ford Jr., the former Tennessee congressman who is president of the Democratic Leadership Council, the coalition of centrist Democrats.
Ford, who lost a closely contested Senate race last year and is considered one of the leaders of a young generation of Democrats, told a Brown University audience yesterday that “there really is a perception that Democrats don’t understand mainstream values in the country.”
“Democrats have got to overcome this perception” to be more competitive in the South, the West and border states, Ford said.
…Yesterday, Ford talked about the need for students to get involved in politics and public policy and explained stances that would make it difficult for him to win a Democratic primary in New England, but resonate with more conservative Southerners.
Ford said he is opposed to gay marriage, gun control and supports school vouchers and charter schools alternatives to failing public schools.
“I love vouchers,” said Ford. “I like guns, I think people ought to be able to hunt.”
As is often the case with political figures whose roots are in the South or the black community, Ford spoke easily of his Christian faith, recounting how church attendance was required in his youth and describing Jesus Christ as his savior.
Ford also opposed the Bush Administration on the Iraq War and is in favor of splitting Iraq into separate Kurd, Sunni and Shia autonomous regions. Yet, mostly because of his views on social issues, he’s considered a DINO (Democrat in Name Only) because he’s simply not liberal enough for the majority of his party.
That being said, even if he is regarded by local progressives as a DINO, I wonder if he would win if he ran in Rhode Island? Given the alternatives this past election season, I certainly would have voted him over either of our two Senate candidates in ’06!
Imagine the sort of rhetorical twists and turns that would have been displayed had it been a Ford v. Chafee election. Would it have been a case of any (D) is better than any (R)–or vice versa? Or would ideology–stripped of its traditional partisan alignments–have come front and center? It certainly would have been interesting. Maybe someday.