Because we have hit the wall, folks. The Nader vote should have been a clue — not that we need to move left, but that we’d gone as far to the right as we could. Any further and we lose the base, either to a third party or apathy. In a closely divided electorate this is suicide.
Clinton’s genius was to combine prototypical liberal issues like the right to choose, civil rights, progressive taxes, education, and expanded health care with a new Democratic orthodoxy on economic growth and defense issues: a strong military (notwithstanding Bush’s rhetoric, well up to the tasks in Afghanistan and Iraq), balanced budgets, welfare reform, and generally promoting business and growth, with appropriate safeguards against malfeasance, are all integral parts of Clinton’s policies–successful policies with which I agree (in fact, I call this position “slightly left of center”). These policies demonstrate exactly where Democratic success on these issues rests, not the left-most edge of the Democratic Platform.