Senate Dems: "The Left Has Been Foiled"

by: David Sirota

Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 13:30

Seems to me that House and Senate leaders have declared an all-out war on "the Left." In fact, "seems" is the wrong word. It doesn't "seem" like that. They are actually saying it explicitly.
David Sirota :: Senate Dems: "The Left Has Been Foiled"
Here's this excerpt from the Washington Post (h/t FDL):

Asked what it would mean if Lieberman kept his chairmanship, one Senate Democratic aide said bluntly: "The left has been foiled again. They can rant and rage but they still do not put the fear into folks to actually change their votes."

Here's the Hill newspaper today:

Democratic leader says party won't turn left

By Mike Soraghan

As the House prepares to elect its leaders, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is challenging the idea that the expanded Democratic majority and its leaders will make a hard left turn.

To show that these aren't errant, uncommon statements, make sure to read Glenn Greenwald's review of how this hatred for "the Left" now reaches all the way to the top of the new Obama administration through Rahm Emanuel.

It's pretty odd that only two weeks after a landslide election that saw a huge ideological progressive mandate, Democratic congressional leaders think it's a great public message to declare jihad on progressives.

I don't know, call me crazy, but I think 67 million people voted for Democrats because they want Democrats to reject Bush's ideological conservatism and solve problems - not spend their time making paranoid, quasi-McCarthy-ist speeches deriding "the Left."

If we wanted that, wouldn't we have elected John McCain and Sarah Palin?

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oh realllly, primaries will be most enjoyable (4.00 / 1)
if not for the "the left", Sarah Palin would be the fucking vice president right now, they ought to think about that.

They don't care. (4.00 / 5)
We are the religious right of the Left. There are few true believers in congress, but most of them have no intention of implementing our priorities. They talk to us during elections then ignore us during the actual governing phase. They know we are terrified of Republican governance and our only choice is to hold our noses and support the Democrats.

It's about time to completely shed the "more" in "more and better Democrats.  

[ Parent ]
the other options are boycotts (0.00 / 0)
and protests, particularly strike type protests.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
They still won't care... (4.00 / 3)
until we get a scalp in our trophy room. We only nicked Lieberman in 2006. He remained in the senate and that is all that mattered.

[ Parent ]
Al Wynn (4.00 / 1)
We have some scalps.  We need either a lot more, a big name scalpee (Steny Hoyer would look wonderful), or at least a critical mass.

[ Parent ]
Not in the senate. nt (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Which Is Why The Gay Marriage Protests Are So Upsetting (4.00 / 7)
Everyone was supposed to just go home and shut up.

Oh, and write another check, of course.  How could I forget that?

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
There's only one real solution... (0.00 / 0)
This country desperately needs some form of instant-runoff voting and proportional representation.  We need to have real competition in the political arena and progressives need to take their heads out of their butts and realize that the Democratic party is not going to be reformed by progressives.  Progressives need to have their own party that can win elections and push their agenda.

If even half the time and money that progressives put into Democratic campaigns had been put into opening up the political process itself to allow more competition, we Progressives wouldn't have to put up with this bullsh!t from the Democratic party.

[ Parent ]
the trouble is the democrats and republicans (4.00 / 1)
have to pass instant runoff voting.  How is that going to happen?  All political systems trend toward stasis and corruption unless their is social upheaval.   That is why Europeans dispite their multitude of parties have a riot every once in a while.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Citizens can take matters into their own hands... (0.00 / 0) states with an initiative process.  Once those states have converted pressure can be brought to bear on the rest of the states to open up.

The great thing about IRV and proportional representation is that it really cuts across the ideological spectrum.  All the minor parties would be willing to get involved as well as some of the religious Right, libertarians, etc.  Keep in mind that the religious Right's relationship to the Republican party is very closely analogous to progressives' relationship to the Democratic party.  They are heartily sick of the Republican party and many of them ardently want more options.

My belief it that once people find out what IRV and PR really entails, they will be overwhelmingly for it.  Keep in mind that a huge number of people do not vote because they don't believe that either party truly represents them.  They know that both parties are controlled by the ruling elite.  If they saw a opportunity for meaningful reform, it might mobilize some of them to join the cause.

Also, social change groups would welcome an opening up of the political process and their networks of grassroots relationships would be invaluable in bringing this to fruition.

In states with an initiative process, much of the effort to get IRV/PR on the ballot and passed could be done by email campaigns in a "guerrilla campaign".

[ Parent ]
Boycott voting for Democrats (0.00 / 0)
and you might be on to something. The mainstream Democrats have nothing to lose by igonoring, or deriding, the left.

The bottom-line will always be: "At least they're not Republicans".

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
no (4.00 / 1)
hit them in the pocket book with strikes.  Boycott voting dem, all dems, you end up with republicans.

Look at the british poll tax riots, and the American Civil Rights Movement.  All democracies have these sorts of corruption problems and they resolve themselves when you have mass civil disobedience that costs the business elites money.  

My blog  

[ Parent ]
I have no problem with street protests and civil disobedience (0.00 / 0)
On the voting front, however, breaking this tyranny should be the goal:

"Boycott voting dem, all dems, you end up with republicans."

We need alternatives. Viable alternatives.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
how do you break the tyranny (0.00 / 0)
by letting someone more tyrannical get elected?

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Work on the system first (0.00 / 0)
then break the MSPs. IRV or some other proportional voting mechanism is a start because it gives more weight to the "spoiler" votes.

Having tyrannical leaders pushes people to get off their couches and pay attention.  Most folks in this country are sleeping through their political lives.  Eight years of a Neo-Con Junta running the show has awoken some, but many still snooze in ignorance.

My worry is that a successful Obama presidency will just put people back to sleep. Like with gas prices. Now that they are lower, people have stopped talking about conservation and alternative fuels.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Disagree (4.00 / 6)
If it weren't for the left, Hillary Clinton would be President.  Clinton would have risen in the polls with the financial crisis, as did Obama.

Obama never promised anything to the left in the general, and only made an infrequent token gesture in the primary, but lots of the left hated Clinton, and that contributed to her loss in the primary.

[ Parent ]
With Clinton... (0.00 / 0)
McCain doesn't pick Palin, and that changes everything.

[ Parent ]
Who knows? (0.00 / 0)
There are probably too many variables to count.  Palin ended up being a negative for McCain, but it seemed the economy was what sunk him.

My comment wasn't really about hypotheticals, but where the left was and wasn't effective.  The left hurt Clinton, and I think that was a serious factor in her loss.  The left lined up for Obama, but they lined up from Kerry, too (they might not have lined up for Clinton).  Because of Obama's wishy washy centrism, I don't think that the left can claim credit for his victory.

[ Parent ]
I think we can claim credit... (4.00 / 2)
...for letting a wishy-washy centrist win.

I'm willing to bet that the core of Obama's canvassing and GOTV machine leaned a lot more left than Washington Dems, and I'm willing to bet that without the votes of the DFHs he would have at best won a victory (with recounts still going on right now).

No, the left didn't influence him. He (and Hillary) both used us when we were helpful and got rid of us quick when we started being mean to the powerbrokers. But it did help him win.

Also, I really couldn't have seen the left not supporting Clinton. The younger generation wouldn't have been as excited, the black vote would have been smaller and not quite as lopsided (although given that McCain was never going to pick JC Watts as VP, still pretty lopsided) but those on the left who didn't fall into that category (and plenty who did) would not have wanted to repeat 2000.

So yeah, we were effective on the ground. But we didn't influence the candidates. We don't frighten them enough yet.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
Not sure Clinton could have beaten McCain (0.00 / 0)
besides, if the left were so critical to Obama's victory, why isn't he more thankful?

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Why isn't Obama more thankful? (0.00 / 0)
Because he's a Washington Democratic politician?

[ Parent ]
Because he doesn't have to be. (4.00 / 2)
Just try to prove him wrong on that.....

[ Parent ]
Bingo* (0.00 / 0)
*However due to economic circumstances beyond my control the cash prize that normally follows has been handed over to the US treasury instead. Please see Czar Paulson for your prize at a later date.  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Dean applauds Lieberman decision (0.00 / 0)
DNC Chair Howard Dean welcomed the decision to keep Senator Joseph Lieberman as head of the Homeland Security Committee and, consequently, in the Democratic Caucus, saying the move was pragmatic, magnanimous and politically shrewd.

Jesus, are they going to sharpen the knife for Lieberman before he sticks it in Obama's back?

[ Parent ]
What Do You Think They Just Did??? (4.00 / 1)
Jesus, are they going to sharpen the knife for Lieberman before he sticks it in Obama's back?

This is proof positive we're in "Fall of the Roman Empire" mode.  When all you have are knaves and fools.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Damn (4.00 / 1)
And here I am without a fiddle.

[ Parent ]
It's not Obama they want to stick it in (4.00 / 2)
it's us, and they just did and twisted it prior to rubbing in salt

[ Parent ]
So what do we do about it? (4.00 / 5)
My preference is strong primary challenges to Hoyer and Reid, but that's still 2 years away and it's not clear we could actually pull it off.

I mean, there's a reason why they're not afraid of us. We don't actually have any power.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

You'll never be able to primary Reid ... (4.00 / 3)
he basically runs the Democratic Party in Nevada .. and Hoyer might not be much easier .. he has a huge warchest .. and basically has greased all sorts of palms in the area he represents .. so there is likely no one willing to take him on

[ Parent ]
It's not easy, but it's necessary (4.00 / 4)
An intensive grassroots field effort can defeat any politician -- but the energy and the leadership has to be there. Reid may 'run' the party, but parties are usually reborn/remade every four years. It's not easy, it's very uphill, but that's organizing in politics.

Does Nevada have primaries or caucuses/conventions to select nominees? If primaries, then we have a shot.

Both Hoyer and Reid are emblematic of an ossified, decrepit, insider culture. They won't be easy to take down. But the fight is worth it.  

[ Parent ]
I agree 1000% (4.00 / 4)
We might not be able to defeat Reid, but I have no doubt that should the netroots to rally around a Lamontesque figure, we can put Reid in the fight of his life.  

In two years there won't be a Presidential race that will draw attention away from these quislings.  I am prepared to fully unload -- financially -- on Reid, Pelosi, Hoyer, et al.

[ Parent ]
cherrypicking (3.20 / 5)
Though what about rather than putting all of our energies into uphill battles vs. centrist Democratic leadership (Reid, Hoyer, Pelosi), we ran well publicized cherrypicked primaries against up and coming party-favorite Blue Dogs.  Unfortunately, the threat of the Left is going to be more effective than the Left itself, at this point, and showing we can knock off a few important posts when we want to can do a lot in terms of convincing incumbents to vote with us.  The Al Wynn race was a case in point.

[ Parent ]
Targets? (4.00 / 1)
Artur Davis, Kendrick Meek and Joseph Crowley seem to be the rising Blue Dogs I hear most about, but the first two are in heavily black districts and I don't know that the netroots has the links there (Donna Edwards built her own campaign in 2006 and Maryland 4th is a very different beast from most heavily black districts). Crowley might be vulnerable to a Hispanic challenge, but there's also the issue of the NYC machine.

Also, we need something to run on. "The national netroots wants to take some scalps to frighten Democratic leaders" is both too long to fit on a bumper sticker and not enough to power a primary challenge.

Still, I'm all in favour of this (although I suspect it's worth menacing Hoyer too.)

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
How about (0.00 / 0)
"we meant it when we voted for change?"

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Of course we can primary Reid. (4.00 / 1)
We don't need to win. Just to make him pay. And we raise enough pledges, they will come.

[ Parent ]
not necessarily, the lesson they learned with (4.00 / 1)
Lieberman is that the "public" still supports the so called centrists. If Lieberman had lost the general we would have seen a very different congress the last two years.

[ Parent ]
CT is weird ... (0.00 / 0)
it doesn't have a sore losers law ... that being said .. Lieberman only won because the CT Republicans fielded a sucky candidate with a very checkered past .. and Rove gave the all clear signal to CT Republicans that Lieberman was okay to vote for .. if CT Republicans would have had a real candidate .. Lieberman would likely never have run as an Indy .. and he likely would have lost .. even if he had

[ Parent ]
yes and al of what you wrote speaks to the (4.00 / 1)
colusion between the two parties.  

[ Parent ]
Agreed. (4.00 / 1)
The fights you lose can be as valuable as the ones you win, if you pick them well.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Would a primary challenge be easier if it started now? (4.00 / 2)

[ Parent ]
Dodd for majority leader? (0.00 / 0)
We really need to start pushing an alternative for majority leader.  Dodd, Durbin, maybe.  Hell, I'd settle for Schumer at this point.

But there has to be a way to start a campaign to replace Reid as majority leader.  

[ Parent ]
Well, if Lieberman is your barometer (4.00 / 2)
Dodd is not the right choice, as he was Joe's biggest advocate.

[ Parent ]
You can never use one thing as your barometer (4.00 / 2)
Pick someone credible and progressive.  I said Dodd because FISA never would have happened had he been majority leader twelve months ago.  

I honestly don't care who it is.  I just want to collectively make a damn pick and go out and try to get them nominated, á la how we did the same for Howard dean.

[ Parent ]
He didn't do anything about FISA (0.00 / 0)
Tom Coburn can clog up the whole senate to stop anything he wants, but Chris Dodd could only give lip-service to stopping FISA.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
If you want to stay mad at Dodd, fine (0.00 / 0)
I'm not particularly attached to him.

Pick someone else, who could credibly stand up to Reid.  From where I sit, our choices are Dodd, Schumer and Durbin.

[ Parent ]
Leahy? Wyden? (0.00 / 0)
Not many other Dems are impressing me lately. Of course, we have even less power when it comes to Dems choosing leadership positions than we do over Lieberman.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
I'm not grudging (0.00 / 0)
I like Dodd a lot.  This is a Lieberman thread, that's all, just staying on topic.

[ Parent ]
Dodd is in the middle of a mortgage (4.00 / 2)
scandal. There is a reason that he hasn't been picked for anything in the administration.

Dodd is beholden to the banking industry. He has sold us out for them.  

[ Parent ]
Not Dodd (0.00 / 0)
He was one of the whips for Lieberman.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
see my response above (4.00 / 1)
it almost doesn't matter who.  And no one is going to have a spot free record that we all love and simultaneously be credible.  

And honestly, the FISA fight is more important to me than the Lieberman thing.  The Lieberman thing hurts, but, ugh.

I'm mad.  And It's time to take Reid out.  

[ Parent ]
all of those candidates voted for Lieberman (0.00 / 0)
It should be Lahey.  I wish Sanders would become a Dem.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
No. (4.00 / 1)
Yeah, that'd be great.  Why don't we just make Angelo Mozilo the Majority Leader instead?  And Dodd was the first one to rally to Lieberman when this issue over the chair started.

Fuck Dodd.

[ Parent ]
That's it, right there (4.00 / 4)
We tried to beat Lieberman in 2006. We failed.

You don't make people afraid of you by failing (unless you're George W. Bush).

[ Parent ]
Too true. (0.00 / 0)
He stayed in the senate, and that's all that mattered. He'll probably retire instead of facing certain defeat in 2012.

[ Parent ]
please see my dailykos diary (0.00 / 0)

Ancient Athens had a formal ostracism procedure. I doubt that the Democratic Party, per se, would adopt my suggestion for a modern-day version, but registered Democratic Party voters could side-step entrenched obstacles, via the wonders of the internet. If registered Democrats give Reid and Hoyer a thumbs down, and successfully communicate that information (and the reasons why) to the voters in Reid's and Hoyer's home states, then it should be much easier and cheaper to dump them in primaries.

My proposal becomes considerably less attractive if the records of who exactly are registered Democrats (or Republicans - my proposal is separately-bi-partisan) is not publicly accessible. Can anybody tell me if such data is procurable?

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
David .. (4.00 / 3)
as someone who has worked in DC(or at least for Senators) .. why is this?  Why do most Democrat in DC hate the party that votes for them?  Why are they even registered as Democrats if they don't want to be one?  Do they really like being Charlie Brown ... trying to play football with Lucy?

See, I feel like the activist base is Charlie Brown (4.00 / 4)
and the DLCers are Lucy.  And we do it to ourselves every primary season, when we get so obsessed with how much we love the candidates, that we forget to ask them to commit anything to us.

[ Parent ]
I think it's cultural (4.00 / 5)
Most of the leaders have come up during the time when berating Dirty Fucking Hippies was the norm in American politics. So the hate of "the left" transcends issues - it's a reflexive cultural hate.

[ Parent ]
And they grew up desperate to not repeat (4.00 / 2)
what happened with Mondale and McGovern.  

I wonder how long it will take to make ti clear that those days have long since ended.

[ Parent ]
primary all incumbents (0.00 / 0)
and put that money machine to work recruiting and funding candidates who pay more than lip service to center-left causes.  

[ Parent ]
Nose to spite face (0.00 / 0)
Not all incumbents are bad. We still have to retain a majority unless we want to become even less relevant.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
the good ones will get re-elected (0.00 / 0)
and they should all feel some nipping at the heels. If all our critters had to defend their records every two-six years and knew someone else was ready to take their places this stuff wouldn't happen so regularly. Major disrespect for the voters is unacceptable.

[ Parent ]
resources are finite (0.00 / 0)
one or two successes have far more impact than a much larger numbers of instances of 'nipping at the heels.'  

I'd rather donate money and time to defeating a Blue Dog than I would to being a minor annoyance to Sheldon Whitehouse or Sherrod Brown.

[ Parent ]
primary Feingold and Whitehouse? Really? (0.00 / 0)
Bernie Sanders has been undermining us recently, too.  Let's take 'im out!

[ Parent ]
hippybashing is a staple at dailykos (0.00 / 0)
and related blogs. that is why I think kossacks are part of the problem.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
center-right (4.00 / 2)
They still believe the talk of the nation being center-right.  For the past 40 years they have learned to always play to the center and reject the extremes, with the "extreme left" the only one they had to worry about as Democrats.

The propaganda of the right has been amazingly successful over the past 40 years.

For some Hate may be real, but for others it is just yet-another chance to Sister Souljah us, which they assume helps with reelection.

[ Parent ]
Yes (4.00 / 1)
We need to be bringing up a new generation of politicians, thinkers who didn't come of age during the Reagan years.

[ Parent ]
Exactly (4.00 / 1)
These things are generational more than anything else.  Though it isn't really age, per-se, but time spent in Washington.

Paul keeps arguing the previous realignment happened when Nixon was elected, not Reagan.  But Nixon ran a fairly liberal administration from an economic policy point of view because he was still in the New Deal mindset.  It was Reagan, new to Washington, who broke through that.

Obama is a little bit insider, a little bit outsider, but in many ways is closer to our Nixon then our Reagan.  My hope is he manages to play both roles.

[ Parent ]
Err (4.00 / 1)
Except from what I've seen, it's often those of us who came of age during the Reagan years who are MOST immune to the bi-partisan, kumbayah shit that gives us Lieberman and the "team of rivals" in the first place.

We saw what the Republicans and centrist Dems (like Lieberman) did to Bill Clinton, and it's like Groundhog Day all over again watching Obama.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Where were the 2008 primary challenges? (4.00 / 2)
That's why they don't fear us: we didn't build on what we started in 2006, with Ned Lamont and Donna Edwards.

There were a few primary challengers, but the netroots played little, if any, role in recruiting them, there was no central clearinghouse of information about primary challenges, and only the most slapdash, scattershot effort to get people to support those challenges.

I was ready to open my wallet for primary challengers, this past cycle.  I was keeping my eyes open for word of challengers.  I gave to Donna Edwards' campaign, and a couple of others.  But it was, if anything, a step back from 2006.

We need a continuing effort to recruit and raise money for challengers to the most worthless Dems in safe (PVI D+10 or better, say) seats.  We need to have at least five well-funded (>$200K) primary challenges per cycle, until the Democratic Party starts bearing a more than incidental resemblance to its base.

Count me in for $1000 in the 2009-10 cycle to support such an effort.  If there is one.

"Where were the 2008 primary challenges?" (0.00 / 0)
Uh, the entire 2008 campaign was one long primary challenge, in the Presidential race.

That little coda at the end about John McCain and the moose lady was relatively irrelevant and simple by comparison.

[ Parent ]
Oh, and that was one long pander to the left, right? (4.00 / 3)

[ Parent ]
I agree (4.00 / 5)
We need primary challenges in 2010. I think the left might be best served by concentrating our firepower against two, maybe three bad Democrats who are thought of in establishment circles as sacred cows. And yes, we need to finally defeat Joe Lieberman in 2012. But bear in mind that the entire Democratic establishment is going to go to bat for him in 2012 regardless of how he behaves between now and then. The Senate (and to a lesser degree the House) is an incumbency protection racket, and as activists we need to always keep that in mind. Over the long term, the left needs to think about how we can dismantle those institutions and structures whose function is MERELY to protect incumbency.  

[ Parent ]
I think we need to concentrate our (0.00 / 0)
firepower against two or three average Democrats.

I hate to say it, but I think in the long-term, this is best. We've gotta sway the middle-of-the-road ones: to show that we'll bring the fight them, and they can't rely on the cover of worse Dems for crappy votes

[ Parent ]
I think either would do just fine. (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Exactly. (0.00 / 0)
They don't respect us because we don't have any scalps on the wall. Lieberman beat us. He kept his seat, and that's all that matters. We need a couple of good progressive candidates to run against the "centrists" and win.  

[ Parent ]
It is wonderful that we elected an african-american (0.00 / 0)
I mean that sincerely.  America took a giant leap forward this year.

That said, it is becoming increasingly clear that we elected, if not an african-american Bayh, an african-american Mark Warner or Tim Kaine.

Better than McCain?  Hell, yes.  Better than McCain with Palin on deck?  Immeasurably.  

But, at the end of the day, we've got Bill Clinton II:  A smart guy who sounds thoughtful and is a gifted rhetorician.  But a guy who will continue to surround himself with anti-progressives at the most critical positions.  A guy who will run away from his supporters.  And a guy who will likely prompt historians to reflect on his administration with those saddest words: 'It might have been'.

As I said (4.00 / 1)
Obama is a Ben Nelson Democrat.

The real task is intellectual and communicative; the world is going to hell WITHOUT THE INTELLECTUAL CAPITAL to avoid disaster.

We can build that capital; let's get to it.

[ Parent ]
um, what? (4.00 / 1)
"Obama is a Ben Nelson Democrat."

Seriously, there is exactly zero evidence for that statement. Based on Obama's public statements, on his voting record in the Senate and the Illinois state house, and on his stated agenda, he is clearly at a minimum somewhere around the median of the Democratic caucus. Probably in the most liberal third or so of the Democratic caucus.

That doesn't mean he is a strong progressive. I doubt there are more than five strong progressives in the Dem caucus (plus Sanders), so that means Obama can be in the most liberal fifth of the Dem caucus and still not be exactly on our side.

But there no reason to pretend that Obama is more conservative than he is, just because he sometimes disappoints us.

[ Parent ]
a bit early? (4.00 / 1)
Look, I'm as happy as anybody to criticize Obama for giving cover to Senate Dems in the Lieberman vote. My opinion is he clearly got this one wrong, because the Senate is a chubby little club, and because he probably takes campaign rhetoric a lot less seriously than we do.

But don't you think it is way to early to preemptively declare the Obama administration (which doesn't exactly exist yet) a giant disappointment? As far as I can see, based on the people he has appointed to run the transition, it looks like much more of a mixed bag than you make it out to be. For example, while there are clear warning signs with respect to the intelligence community and wiretapping, the people Obama appointed to run the FCC transition are extremely strong progressives, suggesting that at least progressives should be in a strong position on internet policy. I haven't seen much chatter on other transition appointments, although recent reports that Obama is likely not going to pick Summers for Treasury are clearly a good sign.

To say that Obama is simply the African-American version of Bayh I think has to discount basically all of Obama's actual statements on issues. That is your prerogative, of course, but it seems a bit unrealistic to believe that nothing Obama said either during or after the election is actually reflective of how he is going to govern.

[ Parent ]
A few points (4.00 / 2)
First, I hedged and said that Obama wasn't quite Bayh -- although Obama feels perfectly comfortable in his company.

Second, I'm not declaring the Obama administration a failure.  I'm making a prediction based on his track record.  I felt no qualms about anticipating a disaster if McCain/Palin won.  And I feel no qualms about making predictions about Obama.  I would love to be proven wrong.

Third, there weren't "clear signs" on FISA.  During the primaries, the guy promised to filibuster any bill with immunity language.  Then after he locked up the nomination, he totally flip-flopped.  Had he taken that position in January, we would be discussing President-elect Hillary's transition team right now.

Fourth, I'm glad that Obama has positions that I support on FCC/internet issues.  But why does he have those positions?  It isn't because of people like me. It's because huge donors from silicon valley are in favor of open technologies.  That's how they make their money.  Just because you agree with a politician doesn't mean he ins't corrupt.

[ Parent ]
That's reading a little much into two quotes, one blind. (4.00 / 4)
Hoyer has a clear motive to say what he's saying.  As the quasi-official representative of the right side of the House caucus, it's his job to say that the party will not move to the left.  Meanwhile Pelosi or an ally like George Miller says something like "this election was a mandate for real change", meaning we will go off the left cliff, so to speak, and that's the contours of the leadership struggle in the House.  Simple.  And not quite what you suggested.

Put another way, we knew that Hoyer opposes us already.  That's not news.  And his opinion should not be taken for anything more than it is.  He's not speaking for Pelosi (in fact he's more likely speaking against her), and he's not speaking for the whole house caucus either, whatever his title says.  He's speaking for his faction, and he's saying the same thing he always has.

As for the blind item, until we know who said it we don't know what it means.  If Durbin's aide says this was a fuck you to the left, that would be important.  If Tom Carper's aide says that, it's meaningless, or nearly so.  That sentence coming from a friend or ally has a very different meaning than that sentence coming from an enemy.  I wouldn't trust a Republican senate aide to interpret this event honestly; why would I trust a DLC aide any more?  Until we know who is saying this stuff, and until it's not a longstanding enemy who WANTS us to appear as weak as possible, then there's not enough basis for your conclusion here.

Except... (4.00 / 2)
Pelosi has been making repeated statements hedging how much change there will be.

If you think Pelosi is a progressive leader you haven't been paying attention.

[ Parent ]
Pelosi will go where the wind blows here (4.00 / 1)
I am also not caring what she says either. She's proven that she can be pushed round. If the new Congress has enough progressives. She will go that way no matter what they call it.

[ Parent ]
Perhaps (4.00 / 1)
Hoyer has a clear motive to say what he's saying.  As the quasi-official representative of the right side of the House caucus, it's his job to say that the party will not move to the left.  Meanwhile Pelosi or an ally like George Miller says something like "this election was a mandate for real change", meaning we will go off the left cliff, so to speak, and that's the contours of the leadership struggle in the House.

Perhaps if Pelosi or someone like George Miller ever won the leadership struggles in the house, people would be more inclined to see it this way. As it is people start to see these situations-- with Hoyer saying "we'll move to the right" and Pelosi saying "we'll move to the left"-- and interpret them as Hoyer's statements being the real statement of intent by the party and Pelosi's statements being just dishonest fluff to briefly satiate the base; after all, Hoyer's statements of this sort are consistently followed through on and Pelosi/Miller do not or can not follow through on theirs.

[ Parent ]
Electoral politics and political change (4.00 / 2)
Electoral politics are not the be-all and end-all of political change.  I know we all know that intellectually, but it's very easy to get caught up in the fixed calendar of American elections and fetishize the process (dKos is ground zero of fetishizing elections, IMHO).

Elections are a means of changing the individuals occupying some of the roles in DC.  But changing one person for another isn't the same thing as changing the system as a whole -- either its nature, or purposes, or direction, or relationship to the citizenry.

The track record in this country, I think, is that social change is driven by mass movements that threaten instantiated power directly -- both the Labor Movement and Civil Rights Movement involved themselves in electoral issues, but they also built and exercised power completely outside of electoral politics.  Labor and the CRM created instability that threatened established power -- and established power eventually agreed to use the political process to solve serious social problems in order to end the threats.

We're still in that situation.  None of DC is structurally on our side, however sympathetic individual office-holders may be.  We need to fight hard enough to threaten their interests (not their next election victory, but their class interests) and force them to the negotiating table.

and why won't you let the other shoe (0.00 / 0)
drop and admit that Obama is part and parcel to it?

My blog  

Let's not get stuck on the word, "Left" (0.00 / 0)
yes, this is not good..

but I'd be happy to win on the merits.

As long as the policy is good, I'd love to have a headline like,  "Universal health plan passed; Left and Right Dismayed by Details."

Let's not be attached to labels.  Let the create a false Lefty Bogeyman if they want.   If we get "true center" policy, that's all that matters.  

So, what do we do next? (0.00 / 0)
Why did we fail, yet again, and what can we do about it?

Ideas people!

Do we write letters to the editor accusing Democrats of rejecting change and promising to continue Bush policies? Do we hold protests? Boycott the inauguration? Do we call up our reps and yell at them? Do we hold our breath until we turn blue? Wait until 2010 (when the opportunity for real change has passed and been squandered), then run a couple ineffectual primaries?

I know I'm at a loss.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

I think we failed (4.00 / 1)
because the Senate is really a big chummy club, and we are not in the club, and the club does not like outsiders trying to push them around. I don't think this has much to do with actual policy as with the elitism of institutional prerogatives.  

[ Parent ]
protests (0.00 / 0)
honestly the protest thing kind of immediately ghettoizes the cause as 'dirty fucking hippie' fringe lumpenproletariat bullshit.  the left is known for being ineffective whiners in the u.s.  best to simply and silently (yet with a clear signature) knock of a few blue dem 'sacred cows' in primaries by focusing our energies there, as someone mentioned above, and maximize our political heft, which is measured by one's group ability to put their foot in another's ass.

[ Parent ]
You're on the right track. (0.00 / 0)
We lost a fight because we didn't have enough power. The solution is to build more power.

I am hoping our resident guru on that topic, EducationinAction, will have something to say about this.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Hopefully, this is a buffer (0.00 / 0)
to shield true progressive change, as in "how can you say we're moving too far to the left by passing UHC when we kept Lieberman and said the left sucked." You know, this is faux-right snowjob of real change.

Hopefully, too, the world can share a Coke in perfect harmony....

John McCain won't insure children

I'm sorry, but I take them at their word (4.00 / 6)
The Left is, in my opinion, just a Versailles code word for anyone outside the political class, including the people who voted them into office. There are now several decades of evidence that the Democratic Party actually answers to the same constituency as the Republicans. Neither party has any respect whatsoever for democracy, or for republican (small R) values. They are above all a managerial class, with ill-concealed, and frankly disgusting pretensions to an eventual place in the oligarchy which they so incompetently serve.

When they can't ignore us, they simply invest more heavily in demagoguery. The inconvenient truth for us is that we can't stop them, not, at any rate, in the foreseeable future. Events might, however. Do they really think that the Perpetual American Empire can proceed unimpeded, either at home at home or abroad, with a bankrupt financial system, collapsing infrastructure, and workforce that no longer manufactures anything but insurance company paperwork?

I'd wager that indeed they do. I'd also wager that there are other nasty surprises like Lehman Brothers and Afghanistan lurking just beyond the edges of the Beltway camp fire. I'd even contemplate taking odds on the likelihood of pitchforks and torches in their future, and perhaps much sooner than anyone thinks.

1992 redux (0.00 / 0)
are we reliving 1992, where the great liberal Bil Clinton ushered in the age of small government, NAFTA, DADT, welfrare reform, and other republican ideas?

don't say we didn't tell ya so

Well (0.00 / 0)
The alternative was getting another president Clinton, which would have guaranteed another era of conservative governance. At least with Obama there was a chance at something different.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
With the Republican Party in decline and the Dem Party disconnected from its base (0.00 / 0)
... isn't it time to for the progressive blogosphere to start at least discussing the formation of a new party that would be to the left of today's Democratic Party?

One could start by only fielding candidates in states where the Republicans have no chances, such as those in the Northeast.

Structurally at the state level, this wouldn't be a third-party strategy, since in federal elections, we essentially have a one-party system now in heavily blue states.

The alternative party approach (4.00 / 2)
...was tried circa 2000. It lead to negative success.

The approach of transforming the Democratic party from the inside was then tried from 2004-2008. It has met with limited success.

I think it's pretty clear which one the correct overall approach is, even if it's not producing the desired results yet.

[ Parent ]
Re: alternative party approach in 2000 (0.00 / 0)
You must be thinking of Nader running as a Green in the presidential election. I'm not aware of this approach being tried out in a serious way when it comes to Congress. That's what I'm talking about: challenging Democratic seats in deeply blue Congressional districts.

This would be a very gradual approach. I don't see why it's not worth trying. Things have changed since 2000. We have a Democratic trifecta now, and the netroots, pioneered by the Dean campaign, didn't exist back then. Why can't the netroots, and the exposure that would possibly be provided by the two progressive evening news programs on MSNBC—also a new development—be utilized to promote and build a new progressive party?

[ Parent ]
Party reconfiguation ahead (4.00 / 2)
If the wheels continue to fall off the eonomy, as I expect they will, the stress will likely lead to the disintegration of both major parties.

As is already becoming very apparent, the Republican Party is likely to fragment further into its religious right and oligarchic wings, with possibly a third group of authoritarian proto-fascists.

The Democratic Party will likely fragment as well.  The split I would like to see is a green/labor wing supported by most minority and some progressive faith groups on the one side, vs. the establishment, "centrist" Demos on the other.  (I don't even know what centrist Democrats think they stand for -- I've never understood that.)

I live in an area with very heavy Democratic Party voter registration, and we're already seeing the kinds of factions outlined above at the local level, vying for control.  I hope we can use the experience we and others are gaining building local coalitions and bring that up to the national level.

[ Parent ]
Bingo (0.00 / 0)
the stress will likely lead to the disintegration of both major parties

and the system generally.

The spirit of the country is dead, we are Ghost Dancing our way into oblivion.

While the newness of The Obama Administration leaves open the door of hope, the inability of people to accept even nominal restraints on their id does not bode well.

[ Parent ]
No (0.00 / 0)
Basic game theory works against third parties. A third party effort would move Democrats to the center.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
Like Gore moved to the left in the last two weeks of the 2000 election (0.00 / 0)
... because of Nader?

Can you give some references?

[ Parent ]
Nader got us Bush (0.00 / 0)
See how well Nader worked out for liberals?

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
Sorry, but... (0.00 / 0)
that was kind of the point of Nader - if Dems won't put up Progressive candidates, the left jumps ship and hands the reins to the GOP.  Nobody actually expected Nader to win.

[ Parent ]
If you want to make this effort work (4.00 / 2)
Then there is a much sneakier, much more satisfying and much more effective way of making it work.

When you target the areas where Republicans don't try, don't do it as a third party. Do it as a Republican.

The Republican machine in, for example, eastern Massachusetts is a laughing stock. Candidates often go unchallenged and if not no real effort is made. With this situation and a demoralised base, swarming Republican primaries and putting a progressive on the ticket is not difficult.

Or hell, even a Progressive. Robert LaFollette never had any great attraction to party labels. If you don't either, then you may as well make the worse choice into a better one rather than add a third choice.

Plus the screaming apoplexy from the right would be hilarious if you got elected this way.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
"The Left" needs to wise up (4.00 / 3)
Start being pro-Hoyer, pro-Lieberman, pro-Endless War.

The Dems will dump Hoyer and Lieberman and turn dovish almost immediately.

A Kos endorsement of Ben Nelson for Pres might be in order.

A Primary challenge requires an issue - not a person (4.00 / 1)
While the Senate defense of Liberman is certainly a bad sign, a real primary challenge requires an issue.

Lamont presented a credible challenge because he emphasized the war.

Challengers in 2010 will likely require a different issue, such as someone with a position on the bailout that can be connected to lost jobs.  

The Leftie (4.00 / 4)
Congress and the media personify the Left as a skinny over-serious, over-educated 31 year old with scruffy facial hair. He's unrealistic, impractical and uncompromising. He's haunted by the ghost of a foolsih 60's hippie who never grew up.  

Most of the population, left and right, want to end corruption in congress. Most people want public campaign finance. Most people don't think former hill workers should ever sell access to lawmakers. Most people understand that the collusion between congress and the rich is at the root of the global economic collapse, the war in Iraq, the huge deficit, the draggy response to global warming, the amoral money grab. Right and left, American politicians win because people hope they will fight government corruption.

When congressmen dismiss the "left", they pretend they're dissing the uppity, over-educated skinny guy that the average voter doesn't like. What they're really dismissing is the pressure to end the favor system that keeps them in power. They're re-asserting their right to work for the governing class now that the election is over.

"We're not the party of the left" (0.00 / 0)
Blah, they can say whatever they want about us... I really don't care as long as they get some movement on the legislative side...  I mean if they get employee free choice passed and at the same time say, "We didn't move to the left... we didn't let the left dictate the vote," or something similarly stupid, who really cares... demonize me as much as you want...

This is a technique used by the former "moderate republicans" all the time.  They'd talk about how they weren't influenced by the "mean and nasty" right... but vote with them on every issue....

This is kindof how Obama got elected, too...  make it seem like he's beyond partisanship, but, when it came tot he issues, ran the most progressive campaign in a generation!  It's just that people didn't feel that was the case... but, make no mistake about it... they guy won on a platform on raising taxes!

But I digress...  The real reason why we get upset is that this congress has not been proven trustworthy.  But, if they respond to Obama's push on this, perhaps they will also respond to Obama's pushes on other things... and while we may not agree with Obama on probably 35% of the issues, that's a hell of a lot better than Reid, who will scuttle us on 90% of the issues.

I'll take the difference gladly!

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


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