I Know It Is My Party. Why Don't New Democrats Know The Same?
by Chris Bowers, Sun Oct 29, 2006 at 10:22:02 PM EST
The netroots and the progressive movement have as much of an ownership claim to the Democratic Party as anyone else. We follow the rules, and we have provided an absolutely enormous amount of support to the party. As we work to move into the infrastructure of the party, LieberDems and "New Dems" alike do everything they can to distance themselves from they party. Lieberman's actions following the primary, as well as the actions of those Democrats who continue to support him, make it clear that it is in fact the Lieberman-Tauscher-DLC types view the party, its rules, and its members as a convenience to be easily tossed aside when they interfere with a personal path to power. This is our party as much as it is theirs. Hell, by now it is more our party than it is theirs. Lieberman and his supporters have become the new Naderites in our midst.
That alone means it will be our victory more than it will be theirs. Any Democrat who works to distance himself or herself from the Democratic Party cannot claim responsibility for a Democratic Party victory. That should be obvious enough. It should be just as obvious that I will never be kicked out of this party by those who view it as a personal convenience rather than as a necessary and vital form of solidarity. We need a broad coalition in order to govern, and neither conservatives nor progressive will ever be thoroughly purged from a Democratic governing coalition. Nor should they be, considering our nation's diversity and historical tolerance for dissent. To keep the coalition together, we need to do three things. First, we all must have an ownership stake. Second, we must all agree to act within mutually agreed upon rules to resolve intra-coalition conflicts. Third, we have to all be working for each other, despite our differences.
When we are told that we are driving the party off a cliff, it becomes clear that whoever made that comment it is not working for everyone in the coalition. That person is distancing herself form the party, as we move closer toward it. That alone means it will never be her victory more than it will be ours, no matter what numbers she cites. You can't run against / from X and then claim you catalyzed X's victory (well, maybe you can, considering the frequent illogic of our national political discourse). It also becomes clear that that person has less of an ownership stake, and is less willing to follow party rules if they don't suit her. She isn't willing to make the sacrifices that will allow us to govern together--she only wants to govern for herself and with a few of her friends. When a person like that rises to prominence in the party, that person becomes destructive to the party as a whole. In my book, that becomes the number one reason to run a primary challenge against someone. That's why I was on board with Lamont from before he even announced. Lieberman's Nader-like trashing of the Democratic Party for personal gain was a long-term pattern in his behavior. Iraq and his refusal to accept primary results are just some of the latest examples of that behavior.
I am a progressive, and I joined the Democratic coalition because that is where progressives belong. Just one look at the opposing coalition should make that clear. Fighting for progressives and fighting for Democrats does not in any way seem like a conflict to me. That goes for every time I support a conservative Democrat in a general election. As long as we all follow the guidelines I laid out above, it shouldn't be a problem for centrists and conservatives in our coalition to see no conflict here either. I desperately wish that lack of conflict is something more non-progressives in our coalition would come to understand, because as long as we are selling each other down the river for personal gain, our coalition stands no chance of governing to the benefit of the American people, winning elections, or even functioning as an effective opposition to Republican rule.
The actions of the progressive movement over the past several years have made it clear that we know it is our party. I hope those New Democrats and LieberDems who denigrate the progressive movement and the party's left wing at every turn will come to realize that it is their party too. It has been a long time since many of them they acted like they knew that, but we would all be a lot better off if they knew and acted like they did.