[S]ingle issue groups have hijacked [the Democratic Party] for their pet causes. So suddenly, Democrats are the party of abortion, of gun control, of spottend [sic] owls, of labor, of trial lawyers, etc, etc., et-frickin'-cetera. We don't stand for any ideals, we stand for specific causes. We don't have a core philosophy, we have a list with boxes to check off....It seems to me that both parties make too much of the abortion issue. Both parties hold lots of attraction for voters who disagree with their position on abortion.
Problem is, abortion and choice aren't core principles of the Democratic Party. Rather, things like a Right to Privacy are. And from a Right to Privacy certain things flow -- abortion rights, access to contraceptives, opposition to the Patriot Act, and freedom to worship the gods of our own choosing, or none at all.
Another example of a core Democratic principle -- equality under the law. And from that principle stem civil rights, gender equity, and gay rights. It's not that those individual issues aren't important, of course they are. It's just that they are just that -- individual issues. A party has to stand for something bigger than the sum of its parts.
We have confused groups that are natural allies of the Democratic Party for the party itself. And the party has ceded way too much power, way too much control, to those single issue groups.
Personally, I like the idea of seeing privacy and equality as fundamental. Actually, I think both parties should accept these things as so fundamental that there is nothing to fight over. They ought to need to look elsewhere for issues.
ADDED: What strikes me about Kos's statement and made me want to quote it at length is that it would put libertarian values at the center of the Democratic Party. There are plenty of people with libertarian values who don't feel at home in either party. But if the Democratic Party really were committed to this more abstract ideology, it would have an entirely different feel. The reason I broke out the quote I chose for the title was because I don't believe it. I think the party begins with its politically useful defense of the right to abortion and that Kos's effort to derive a "core principle" is motivated more by the desire to make the abortion right more appealing than by an interest in understanding what motivates the party to try to distinguish itself with abortion-centered political activity.
UPDATE: I note that part of what Kos is saying here is nearly the same thing Howard Dean said on "Meet the Press" yesterday:
Here's the problem--and we were outmanipulated by the Republicans; there's no question about it. We have been forced into the idea of "We're going to defend abortion." I don't know anybody who thinks abortion is a good thing. I don't know anybody in either party who is pro-abortion. The issue is not whether we think abortion is a good thing. The issue is whether a woman has a right to make up her own mind about her health care, or a family has a right to make up their own mind about how their loved ones leave this world. I think the Republicans are intrusive and they invade people's personal privacy, and they don't have a right to do that....
But when you talk about framing this debate the way it ought to be framed, which is "Do you want Tom DeLay and the boys to make up your mind about this, or does a woman have a right to make up her own mind about what kind of health care she gets," then that pro-life woman says "Well, now, you know, I've had people try to make up my mind for me and I don't think that's right." This is an issue about who gets to make up their minds: the politicians or the individual. Democrats are for the individual. We believe in individual rights. We believe in personal freedom and personal responsibility. And that debate is one that we didn't win, because we kept being forced into the idea of defending the idea of abortion.