I'm here at the America's Future Now conference, where an interesting dialogue broke out on the topic of elections and the prospect of Republican Congressional majorities. Markos of DailyKos, who was a speaker at a lunch plenary, made the comment that at DailyKos, it used to be "more Democrats" as the rallying mantra for raising money and other kinds of activism. After we (Democrats) took back the majority, he said, it became "more AND better Democrats".
A number of people stood up to say they wished progressive advocates focused more on the Republicans because before you know it, we would lose the majority. MoveOn's Ilyse Hogue, also doing the plenary, said she had nightmares of Speaker Boehner. I think a lot of people do, frankly.
What I wonder is at what point does the progressive ecosystem return to investing in candidates who aren't necessarily strong progressives, but are acceptable to retain a majority? One call circulating around the blogopshere- that, if I recall correctly, was first started by Markos- is that (when it was stated), it's better to have 59 Democrats and Sen. Durbin as Majority Leader than 60 Democrats and Sen. Reid in that position. In other words, that it would be acceptable to let Reid lose.
The question I have is, at what point does being willing to allow Democrats to be defeated no longer become an option? 59 or 60 Democrats isn't going to exist forever. At what point do progressives return to the "more Democrats" mantra and shelve the "more and better Democrats" vision, for the sake of retaining majority control? Is it at 55 Democratic Senators? 53? 51? On November 3rd, 2010, will folks regret being so cavalier about letting Sen. Reid- still a decent Democrat, if a less-than-effective Majority Leader- perish?
The answer isn't clear to me, but as this election cycle continues on, and more and more forecasts show Democrats in trouble- as of June 3rd, ours at OpenLeft currently shows 53 Senate Democrats- I think that question will come up more and more, and will generate discussions and divisions about where to invest resources.