Chuck on His Book, Reagan and the ACLU

In a conversation yesterday with Chuck Schumer, Jason Horowitz got a little more insight into the book the senator plans to publish this January about the failure of both political parties to speak to voter concerns in the wireless internet age.

Technology, Schumer told Horowitz, had “changed everything,” and had “created the war on terror.”

The trick for Democrats to appeal to contemporary voters, he suggested, would be to govern without being beholden to interest groups. As an example, Schumer singled out the ACLU as the architect of the Democrats’ doom during the Ronald Reagan years:

“When I got to Washington, crime was ripping apart my district. And I wanted to do something about it. People’s whole life-savings was being ruined by crime. And I get here, and the Democrats have been in power for 50 years, 1981, and who is writing crime policy? Not just at the table, but writing it? The ACLU. And the ACLU had a view, some people have it, that — let 1,000 innocent people go free lest you convict one innocent person. And it was amazing to me, and I saw why people voted for Ronald Reagan.”

Schumer, who is in the midst of an effort to make a dent in the GOP’s Senate majority, concluded that Reagan “had a point” at the time, but said that that rationale for voters after years of Republican rule was now “gone.”

In a bit a strategic restraint, Schumer left unspoken the formulation he’d used in an interview the Times last month, when he concluded, “What Bill Clinton did was modify Reagan Republicanism and put a Democratic face on it. That’s not going to work.”

– Josh Benson