The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Kos, the DLC, and Others

Am about a day late with this, but just thought I'd put in my own two cents. Within 35 minutes yesterday, Kos had two posts that had me run the gamut of emotions.

The first:

I have been harsh on NARAL the past few months, and they've deserved every last bit of it. They pressured anti-abortion Democrat Rep. Jim Langevin out of the Rhode Island Senate race, even though he was a near-guaranteed pickup for the Democrats. Then they endorsed the supposedly pro-choice Republican Lincoln Chafee, who promptly paid back said endorsement by voting to confirm the virulently anti-abortion Judge Janice Brown.

Anti-abortion Democrats like Harry Reid voted against Janice Brown. Pennsylvania's Bob Casey, another target of the Choice groups, would've also voted against her. Despite that, NOW's president claims there isn't a single bit of difference, regarding women's issues, between Casey and Santorum! Yet another example where single-issue groups myopic vision obscures the broader picture -- one in which Democrats will always be a party of privacy and choice, and the Republicans will always seek to criminalize abortion. It's been the bane of the Democratic party for decades, and there's no sign it'll let up.

So now the Senate will debate the Roberts nomination, but our lack of numbers in the Senate makes it exceedingly difficult to block an anti-Roe candidate. So my question to NARAL -- your boy Lincoln Chafee has a vote. Which way will he vote. Will he vote to confirm yet another judge hostile to Roe, or will he buck his party and vote "nay"?

And a second question for NARAL -- are you feeling pretty stupid for having endorsed Chafee yet?

The second:

Three presidential contenders are trekking to the DLC's annual conference in Ohio, giving the organization a boost of legitimacy at a time when it faces increasing irrelevance in the political scene.

Evan Bayh, Hillary Clinton, and Tom Vilsack are all dutifully trecking to Ohio to worship at the altar of the "vital center" -- that elusive moving target that has conspired to rob Democrats of all conviction. Every time you hear a Democrat talk about how Democrats don't stand for anything? That's the DLC, as they urge Democrats to chase after a "center" that gets constantly redefined rightward by an ideologically principled Republican party.

As we strive to find our core convictions, and define who we are and what we stand for as a party, the DLC is one of the roadblocks -- a divisive, fundamentalist organization willing to sell any and all progressive ideals to the altar of big business. And anything that threatens their dominance has met with their ire -- be it Howard Dean, the netroots, or regular people suddenly interested in transforming and reforming the Democratic Party.

Democrats have a choice to make -- stand with the DLC, or stand with the grassroots and netroots of the party. It's interesting that Democrats with a strong sense of self -- those who truly know what they stand for and are unafraid to say so -- are those least interested in the DLC's snake oil.

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Keep chasing the "vital center", and you'll prevent the Democratic Party from standing for core principles. The GOP polls to find the best ways to sell their agenda, the Democratic Party polls to find that "vital center", and then demands its politicians chase after those popular positions.

Yet time and time again, the public rewards those with convictions (Feingold, anyone?), and punishes those who wanter the political landscape aimlessly, with no moral compass or overarching core philosophy.

The netroots and grassroots both get it. The DLC doesn't. Instead of working as a team, they want to divide. They want to excommunicate certain Democrats from the party. They are as bad as the single-issue groups they love to decry. They are the enemy within. And Democrats that associate with them are telegraphing who they stand with.

The first post shows one of the most important reasons why Democrats keep losing elections. Groups such as NARAL continue to look no further than the next election and their own, selfish short-term goals- to the detriment of them and other organizations who share their same worldview- forgetting exactly who gives them a place at the table and who shuns them for someone like James Dobson. Our special interest groups, for whatever reason, have decided that their own myopic, personal battles are much, much more important to win than the war. Forgetting of course, that when we're winning the war, we'll also be winning their battles.

As for Kos' second post, I'm just going to let Ezra Klein explain it:

If you want to blast the DLC for being a divisive organization that lashes out towards those they don't like, then you better be an inclusive organization that respects differences and allows for tents including all sorts of members. Calling the DLC divisive and then pledging to poison the Fruit Loops of any Democratic politicians who happen to associate with the group just makes you look silly.

You may not like Al From -- hell, I don't like Al From -- but Hillary Clinton, Evan Bayh, Tom Vilsack and all the others can certainly address a DLC meeting without signaling a disrespect for "the netroots". That's what "inclusive" means, that one is willing to work with groups that may naturally be in opposition to each other. It's fine if you don't like that, but then whipping around to attack others for intramovement intolerance looks, well, kinda bad.
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You would think that with the power we give to the DLC, they'd have blacklisted us, that Dean would be dead in a ditch somewhere, that the netroots would be radioactive to any respectable politician. But...what? So they send off an e-mail saying they don't like Dean? That's their right. Is this really what we're scared of? A couple mean words from an organization teetering on the edge of obscurity?

Kos says much worse and does it daily -- which is fine, welcome to politics. But we cry salty tears of pain when they tap us and then cackle like maniacs while a thousand blogs call them every nasty name we can think of. And then, when we represent the situation, we make the DLC sound as if they're mugging bloggers in the street while Kos innocently pleads for civility and procedural reform. It just ain't so, folks. They say mean things, we say them back. But that's all it is. And that's fine, intramovement debate is healthy, but jesus christ on a popsicle stick, let us not pretend that the blogs aren't as divisive and aggressive as everyone else.