Jean Shaheen has entered the Senate race in New Hampshire. From what I am told, I am pretty sure this means both Katrina Swett and Steve Marchand will drop out. As for Jay Buckey, I honestly don't know, but I hope he stays in. Not only do I like Buckey, who is both an astronaut and a progressive (two of my favorite things), but the last thing Shaheen needs now is an uncontested primary. While polls show her ahead of Republican incumbent John Sununu by anywhere from 16-28 points, I do not have a lot of confidence that those enormous leads will hold. At the very least, Shaheen needs to be pushed to become a better campaigner in the primaries. Hopefully, such a primary will also force her to adopt a more progressive outlook (seriously, check out that link)
Now, even if he stays in, I am under no particular illusions that Buckey would have anything more than a moonshot to actually defeat Shaheen in the primary. However, to be perfectly frank, I feel like Shaheen is one of the many, many Democrats who first helped lead the party into simultaneous minority and pro-war status back in 2002-2003, but who is now capitalizing on the favorable electoral stage that was prepared mainly by the progressive movement during four years of intense guerilla warfare against conservatism from 2003-2006. While the Jean Shaheen's and Rahm Emanual's of the party were supporting things like the Bush tax cuts, the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq, and legislation to support Terry Schaivo, it was the netroots who were doing the bulk of the heavy lifting in opposition to Republicans. I feel like they are capitalizing on what we rightfully earned, and both dissing us and preparing to destroy all of our work in the process. They are pretenders to the new Democratic majority.
While Democrats were capitulating on the Iraq war and badly losing the 2002 elections anyway, it was the netroots who were forcing the removal of Trent Lott as new majority leader before the new Congress even started. While Democrats were praising Bush's invasion, it was the netroots who were re-invigorating small donors and on the ground progressive activists with anti-war messaging and candidates like Howard Dean. Blogs and organizations like MoveOn.org are the reason why Democrats closed the fundraising and activism gap on Republicans in 2004 and 2006, and now Democrats can't write enough op-eds trashing us. While Democrats and their surrogates were mocking us for daring to run hard in every district, it was the netroots who showed why that was worthwhile. While leaders of Democratic campaign committees were pretending that Iraq didn't exist and wouldn't be a campaign issue less than a year for the 2006 elections, it was the netroots who ran a campaign in Connecticut that forced even Joe Lieberman to start running against the war in Iraq during the final three months of the 2006 elections. And now, as we give them repeated warning about the Republican blurring strategy on Iraq, it is still those same Democrats who are whistling past the graveyard.
Why am I so pissed at Democrats lately? Simply put, it feels like many Democrats are taking something that does not belong to them--their excellent 2006 and 2008 electoral advantages--and then thoroughly ruining it. And why am I so convinced they will ruin it? Because, as a progressive Democrat, I have already seen the blurring strategy on Iraq successfully used against my candidates by centrists from my own party. The most graphic example was Joe Lieberman against Ned Lamont in the 2006 Connecticut Senate general election. While nutmegers now regret falling for that strategy, it still worked, and Joe Lieberman is still in office. Now, with even Bush supposedly promising withdrawal by next summer, with the country grossly misinformed about withdrawal plans, with supposedly "anti-war" Republicans not being forced to vote on anything that will actually end the war, and with Republicans starting to capitalize on Democrats refusing to say how many troops they will leave in Iraq and for how long, I can see how it will broadly be used against progressives in 2008. Bush Dogs will be empowered. Progressives will find "moderate" Republicans much more difficult to defeat. Our chances for sweeping gains in the House might be wiped away. Even our advantage in the Presidency might disappear, as long as our nominee ends up supporting an indefinite amount of American troops in Iraq for an indefinite period of time. And so, like a nightmere version of Groundhog Day, those same, pretenders to the new Democratic Majority could very well lose because they shat on their base, and refused to take stronger stances on Iraq.
Sometimes I wonder if this problem is a combination of the progressive movement growing too effective too quickly, and Bush policies creating national and international disasters even more rapidly than expected. It takes a long time to build a bench. We are talking at least four years to build a member of the US House, and probably more. It takes ten years to build a US Senator, and often more. To build a President, it takes at least fourteen years, and often more. In the five year period from 2002-2007, the movement simply did not have enough time to build up a series of candidates and professional activists to replace the pretenders in Congress, in the party leadership, and throughout the progressive establishment. So, we set the table, but most of the people available to sit down and eat were the same Democrats who screwed everything up so badly from 1994-2004. And so, Jean Shaheen loses in 2002 while supporting the war and the Bush tax cuts, is floated as a "stop Dean" candidate for DNC chair in late 2004, but then gets to re-enter the Senate in 2008 largely because of the work of other progressives who she largely opposed. However, many other Democrats could easily end up losing in 2008 because of a blurring strategy on Iraq that Democrats like Shaheen will facilitate.
That, in a nutshell, is why I am directing so much vitrol at members of my own party right now. It feels like pretenders have usurped our new majority. Right now, I feel like a wave of primary challenges and trying to put an end to the blurring strategy is practically a last ditch effort to keep the situation from growing even worse. The Iraq blurring strategy is largely engineered by Republicans Bush Dogs as a means of keeping the conservative working majority in place. In order to break the conservative governing majority, that strategy must be smashed.