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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Right-Sizing the Big Tent

As regular readers know, one of the missions of TDS is to promote civil, empirically based discussion of intra-Democratic Party issues, with the aim of fostering principled party unity.
With all the recent, FISA-fueled talk of holding congressional Dems more accountable for their votes and views, Salon published an exchange today between Glenn Greenwald and yours truly about the advisability of threatening or carrying out primary challenges to selected Dems, particularly the Blue Dogs.
Glenn’s piece is here; my response is here. For the record, the thrust of my hold-your-fire argument was that (1) it’s not that easy to divine the views of the “Democratic base” in order to construct the limits of acceptable Democratic opinion; and (2) if Obama wins, we’ll be dealing with an entirely new, post-Bush environment in which today’s intraparty discontents may need to be reviewed, and may be moot.
Much of the reaction on the Salon site followed the Kabuki Theater of “center” versus “left” tendencies on the subject; Glenn and I both got trash-talked an awful lot. For a more nuanced reaction, check out Big Tent Democrat’s take at TalkLeft.

One comment on “Right-Sizing the Big Tent

  1. Cugel on

    After reading both articles a couple of points:
    1. DURING elections is no time to discipline politicians. That time is either BEFORE or AFTER elections.
    2. During THIS election Democratic voters are looking to get rid of the dominant Republican mis-rulers. They are not keen on calls to exact revenge on Democrats.
    In 2009 it’s going to be a different ball-game if Obama wins. At that point progressives are immediately going to start developing a rather LARGE list of policy differences with Obama.
    There’s going to be problems with his desire to ramp up the Afghanistan war, that’s not going to go well and U.S. casualty rates are likely to soar. The more Afghanis feel that someone is trying to establish the rule of Kabul over them the more they will fight. They fought the Soviet installed regime, they fought the Taliban, they are fighting Karzai and the northern tribes that replaced the Taliban now. It’s only going to get worse the more we try to exert control.
    This has the potential to be like JFK and Vietnam.
    Then Iraq is still going to be a severe problem. Just because McCain and the media are trumpeting that “we’ve won! The surge worked!” doesn’t make it true as pointed out on this site.
    There’s going to be the problem of “residual troops.” What Obama wants and what progressives want (total evacuation of Iraq and leaving the country to the Iraqis without intereference) are night and day. Obama is talking about keeping hundreds of thousands of Americans (military advisers, economists, security personnel, experts of all stripes, spooks and CIA operatives, etc.) and lots of bases, including our Fortress Embassy and probably the Green Zone as well — all under U.S. control, even if there is some fig-leaf “transfer” of autonomy over to the Iraqis.
    The Iraqis don’t want any of this. It’s a replay of Vietnam, with a dash of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians as also mentioned on this site.
    There will be plenty of domestic problems as well.
    The 70 vote defection on FISA ought to make something clear. The real lack is a progressive lobbying effort in Washington that controls money and clout. Many of these people aren’t “Bush Dogs” at all, they are run of the mill Democrats who just aren’t feeling any pressure from the left so they don’t vote for liberal causes.
    Its a nice effort to develop this, but we’d be much better off targeting Democrats in blue districts who don’t vote with us, than Bush Dogs in Rep +5 districts.
    It took conservatives 15 years before they got Ronald Reagan elected. In the mean time how many “betrayals” by Rockyfeller Republicans did they have to endure?
    Noam Chomsky has called Nixon the “last liberal president” for his creation of EPA and various environmental laws, his espousal of “treatment first” drug policy, etc. He was in a liberal era and couldn’t tilt nearly as far to the right as Bush can now, after Neo-con crusaders have been planting seeds for 20-30 years.
    Obama might, if we are successful, be the “last conservative president.”
    This is going to take a long time.


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