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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Kos Calls on Dems to Begin Unifying by March 15

If you were a candidate running for any elective office, you should be delighted to have the support of Markos Moulitsas, Founder/Publisher of Daily Kos and likely the most influential progressive journalist on the blogosphere.
That’s essentially what Hillary Clinton got on Friday, when Moulitsas wrote a blogpost, “March 15, and Daily Kos transition to General Election footing,” urging Kos writers, commenters and readers to support her candidacy if she is the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination by March 15. He would also support Sen. Bernie Sanders, if he is still competitive by mid-March. As Kos writes,

…if Sanders eats into Clinton’s big delegate lead by March 15, then we carry on. But if he doesn’t, then on March 15 this site officially transitions to General Election footing. That means, we will focus our attention not just on Donald Trump or his rivals, but also on the Senate, the House, and state-level races. If you want the most liberal government possible, we aren’t going to get that this cycle in the White House, but we can keep building the bench down the ballot so that come 2024, we have lots of great liberals to choose from…But it does us no good to keep fighting over something that is already determined. People have voted, and the numbers are the numbers. It’s time to move on and focus on what binds us together.

In his post, Kos also blasts the super delegates system, the primary/caucuses process and calendar, which favors less diverse states Iowa and New Hampshire, and he calls for the resignation of DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Kos regards the future of the U.S. Supreme Court as the most pivotal reason why Dems must begin to unify this month:

Do you know what else we all agree on? The Supreme Court… Even assuming the worst crazy shit people say about Clinton, fact is the next president will get to determine the Supreme Court’s direction for at least a generation, if not longer than that. It will be a new liberal Supreme Court that will overturn Citizens United, that will protect voting rights, that will protect labor unions, that will end partisan gerrymandering, that will undo the myriad roadblocks to citizens participation in our democracy–the very roadblocks that are keeping the Republican Party nationally relevant when they should be a rump regional party.
Clinton critics like to cite the presidency of Bill as evidence of her various horrible traits, yet it was Bill who gave us Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, and I dare any of you to find reasons to criticize either of those two judicial heroes. If Hillary is like Bill (and she’s not, but let’s assume), why wouldn’t her Supreme Court justices follow suit?

Moulitsas then lays down the guidelines for future postings on Daily Kos. “I will no longer tolerate malicious attacks on our presumptive presidential nominee or our presidential efforts…” He includes some pretty specific bullet points, including, but not limited to:

  • No attacks on Hillary Clinton using right-wing tropes of sources. She’s had 30 years of bullshit flung at her from the Right, there’s no need to have Daily Kos give them an assist.
  • Constructive criticism from the Left is allowed. There’s a difference between constructive and destructive criticism. Do I need to spell it out? It’s the difference between “We need to put pressure on her to do the right thing on TPP” versus “she’s a sell-out corporatist whore oligarch.” In general, if you’re resorting to cheap sloganeering like “oligarch” or “warmonger” or “neocon”, you might want to reframe your argument in a more substantive, issue-focused and constructive matter. Again, I’m not interested in furthering the Right’s hate-fueled media machine. If that’s what you want, might I suggest Free Republic?
  • Saying you won’t vote, or will vote for Trump, or will vote for Jill Stein (or another Third Party) is not allowed. If that’s how you feel, but have other places in which you can be constructive on the site, then keep your presidential feelings to yourself. Those of us who care about our country and it’s future are focused on victory. If you aren’t, then it’s a big internet, I suggest you find more hospitable grounds for your huffing, puffing, and stomping of feet.

There will probably be some negative fallout about Kos’s post in lefty purist circles. Others may argue that it’s a little premature. But to paraphrase Spike Lee, “If you don’t like my movie, make your own movie.” Kos has built a hell of an internet community with his hard work, dedication and creativity, and he gets to make the rules on his website.
The impressive turnout of Republicans in the primaries and caucuses does suggest that Kos is right that Democrats should begin unifying sooner than later. Whatever edge Dems had in voter turnout mechanics has clearly evaporated. GOP GOTV operations are now state-of-the-art, and they are going to have all of the money they need.
In his HuffPo report on Kos’s statement, Daniel Marans quotes the head of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee:

“Hillary Clinton was made a better candidate thanks to Bernie Sanders engaging her in a race to the top on popular economic populism issues like debt-free college, expanding Social Security, and jailing Wall Street bankers who break the law,” said Adam Green, PCCC’s co-founder, in a statement. “Had she run away from Elizabeth Warren-style ideas instead of working to ride an economic populist tide, many Super Tuesday results likely would have been different.”
“The primary continues — but no matter who wins, the Democratic Party has begun to be fundamentally remolded in Elizabeth Warren’s image,” Green added in the statement. “Armed with popular economic populist themes, Democrats are better positioned to win in November.”

The worst mistake would be for Democrats to become complaisant or overconfident as a result of the GOP’s recent meltdown. Numerous polls show that American voters are evenly polarized on many issues, and it’s not hard to imagine a number of events occurring which could make the 2016 general election razor-close. Internecine bickering is no longer an option for Democrats who seek a progressive victory in November. Save that for after the election. As Moultsas explains,

After Clinton is elected, we’ll all have plenty of reasons to be upset at her and criticize her actions. That’s what would happen even if Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren got elected, because no one can ever live up to any good liberal’s hopes and expectations. Politics is messy and requires compromises and decisions that will never match our ideal. But hey, we’ll push Clinton hard when it requires, and we’ll keep working for a more inclusive and democratic Democratic Party.

“But now,” concludes Kos, “we’ve got to start focusing on the immediate task at hand, making sure we keep the White House, win back the Senate and maybe even the House, and lock down the Supreme Court for a liberal generation. Sound good?”

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