November 6, 2006


Progressives Poised to Take Control of the Democratic Party (David Sirota, November 6, 2006, In These Times)

For the better part of 20 years, Democratic divisions have seethed under America's political surface, with only the rare contested presidential primary providing a release valve. Any number of self-defeating pathologies emanating from inside the Democratic Party have worked to raise the temperature: From President Bill Clinton's embrace of corporate-written trade deals that crushed the party's working-class base to congressional Democrats' complicity in the Iraq War and rejection of the growing anti-war movement, Democratic Party elites have gotten used to kicking the party base in the face.

The situation is ready to explode. What the late Paul Wellstone called the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" is growing feisty. And progressives are increasingly in a position to flex their muscles thanks to a convergence of factors: the rise of Internet fundraising, the ascendancy of blog and vlog (video blog) media and the crushing economic forces that are radicalizing previously apolitical middle-class constituencies. These developments have exposed the Democratic establishment to the same kind of pressure that conservative grassroots activists have exerted on the Republican Party to great electoral success.

Nowhere was this changing dynamic more on display than in Connecticut's recent Democratic senatorial primary and its aftermath. Businessman Ned Lamont -- a first-time statewide candidate -- toppled 18-year incumbent Sen. Joe Lieberman after running a campaign against Lieberman's support for the Iraq War, Social Security privatization and lobbyist-written trade deals that have decimated the Nutmeg State's manufacturing economy.

And when the crackup comes -- the key effects of which will be to drive socially conservative minorities and free-market wealthy whites into the GOP -- the whole Democratic Party will come to resemble the Lamont campaign, ideologically pure, but futile.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 6, 2006 8:16 AM

From the associated comments section of this AlterNet piece:

"Progressive Agenda!

Out of Iraq!
A Voting System with a verifiable paper trail!
Break up All Media Monopolies!
Campaign Finance reform!
Livable minimum wage!
Rescind all The Bush Tax cuts for: Billionaires and Con-Glomerates!
Reinstate all rescinded pollution laws!
Balance the Budget!"

To which an honest poster would add:

Workers of the World, Unite!

Posted by: JonSK at November 6, 2006 9:43 AM

Strange, I see the exact opposite. There's a lot of new blood coming into the Democratic Party, especially in the Western red states, fueled by what they see as GOP incompetence. That should lead to some new coalition building.

Far from becoming dominant, I think the "progressive" faction will be told to stop throwing temper tantrums and accept that they can't win. The progressive leadership is old and tired. They need to learn no one cares about them anymore.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at November 6, 2006 10:36 AM

That's ridiculous. No one chooses their politics based on competence. If they did the GOP, given the state of the economy, would win every seat. Meanwhile, a Democratic Party that tells progressives to shut up while it governs the way Red State voters want would have to replace its entire leadership and vote with the Republicans. Why would the Left stay in such a party? Why would the Right not join it?

Posted by: oj at November 6, 2006 11:06 AM

Well, with all those others gone, the Nativists may concievably be able to seize control of the Democratic party from the left.

Posted by: Mike Earl at November 6, 2006 11:49 AM

I disagree with your assessment of western voters. The Democrats I talk to begin by bad mouthing republicans, but once we start talking issues they begin getting frustrated, because the Dems stand for so many things they dislike. They are teetering on the edge of revelation, just like many of us 9/11 Republicans were on 9/10. As soon as the progressives start saying what they actually believe they'll tilt to the right. As for shutting them up, I don't know how you can do that, with Daily Kos now the driving force behind much of the Party Faithful.

Posted by: Patrick H at November 6, 2006 11:54 AM

Very confusing, all this talk of progressives.

Then I remember, some people use the word, "progressives," when what they mean is so-called, self-proclaimed "progressives."

Using that word to refer to adherents of obsolete, 19th and 20th Century ideologies is pretty gay.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 6, 2006 12:25 PM

Just remember that the one thing all today's Progressives oppose is "progress", a sense that the future can and will and should be better than the past, and it all will make sense.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 6, 2006 1:12 PM