Jody Powell's reflections (Editorial Pages, May 27) on the Democratic Party under its new chair, Paul Kirk, lead me to predict continuing erosion of Democratic ideals and officeholders in '86 and '88.
Kirk and other top Democrats focus solely on refashioning the party's image. Abolishing caucuses, wooing Southern conservatives and ending mid-term conferences are cosmetic measures that attempt to blunt the party's so-called "liberal" edge. Like many current plans to re-tailor the Democrats, they lack content and engaging substance. Does anyone really imagine that Republicans, lapsed Democrats, fence-sitters and non-participants will find such reforms compelling?
As a Democrat still committed to progressive party reform, I believe we are losing the issue battle with the Republicans, not the PR battle, as many think. As much as we may abhor it, laugh at it or find it dangerous, the Republican right has captured the GOP and educated and drawn its constituents toward the right. It struggles now to articulate a national ideology--based partly on militarism, big business, and high-tech--and to identify it with Republican conservatism. That's a radical program, and it is content based and issue driven. To assume it's mere PR, as the Democratic leadership does, is to miss the ideological fervor of the conservatives--they want to "change history" and reshape the country's consciousness.