Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

Based on a wealth of irritated comments here and at Daily Kos, I figured I should clarify what I wrote since I probably didn't explain myself very well.

1) I am not arguing for a primary challenge to Chuck Schumer.  He is up for reelection in 2010, and he probably cannot be beaten.  Similarly, a primary challenge to Rahm Emanuel probably won't work.

2) I am not arguing for ideological purity in the party.  That is both impractical and bad for the party.  I would note that Schumer is the one who seeks ideological purity around what he calls 'the marginals'.  It's actually weird, if you read the article, how he has completely bought into the David Brooks formulation of American voting patterns.  He cannot believe that a Senator from North Dakota voted against the war and against the hate and flag burning amendment; he just doesn't understand that populist prairie states aren't Southern fried, and that Kent Conrad is really popular.

3) Schumer is a socially moderate hawkish protectionist.  He is heavily tied in with neoconservative hawkish think tanks and the banking industry.   He is not on our side as he is willing to trade away our values at the drop of a hat, but he is not on the right-wing's side either. That does not mean that we cannot work with him, it just means that he does not take us seriously, nor should he at this point since we haven't proved that he should.

So here's my point.  The Democratic Party is a coalition between centrists and progressives.  It will always be such a coalition, since there is not a progressives, conservative, or centrist majority in this country.  From 1932 until 1968, progressives had the upper hand in this coalition, which was at the time a governing coalition.  From 1968 until 1980, it was even, and since 1980, progressives have had basically no influence in the party.  Progressives are so cowed that even our 'champion' Barack Obama, a guy with a 70% approval rating, has thrown his lot in with the centrists.  The challenge for progressives is to change this dynamic within the party and build a governing coalition.  These are not at odds, and they are both keys to dealing with problems like global warming, energy, health care, etc in a progressive manner.

To get this done, we need to build an alternative party mechanism that can recruit and elect our own candidates, along with all associated policy and information channels required for a progressive political machine.  That means primary challenges in 2007 for Democrats in the House, as well as working to get progressives positioned to take on open House seats and Senate seats held by vulnerable Republicans.

Are the blogs going to do all of it?  Heck no.  Are they fulfilling some part of it?  Yes.  A little bit of organizing, some amount of money, and some amount of media.  

So name your least favorite House Democrat.  Let's start putting a list together.

Tags: Chuck Schumer, primary project (all tags)



Nice. The clarity helps. n/t

by Pachacutec 2006-04-03 02:49PM | 0 recs
We need to stop posting long, follow-up posts simultaneosuly. :-)
by Chris Bowers 2006-04-03 02:51PM | 0 recs
JIm Moran. . .

came up earlier today.  This is real blue country in Alexandria City, VA, and Moran was weak on Social Security before he got his ass handed to him on that.  He's kinda shady, too.

I think a good primary against him is appropriate.  He had some challenge last time but out-powered his opposition.  But more preparation this time could make a difference.

by Pachacutec 2006-04-03 03:07PM | 0 recs
Re: JIm Moran. . .

I was going to mention Jim Hurysz, running as an independent against Moran with a platform slightly to the left of Moran - for all intents and purposes his positions look like a Democrat, with his main disagreements being over Moran's support for CAFTA and the like. htm

Unfortunately, it looks like a few republicans have jumped into the race.  My rule of thumb is only support third party and independent candidates if they are in two-way races.  Otherwise if there's an R in the race, I'll support the D, whoever that is.  But I second a primary run against Moran.  He's a big disappointment to say the least.

by ACSR 2006-04-04 08:26AM | 0 recs

The place for challenges of Democrats is within the primary system.  Voting for independents or third party (Green, etc.) canidates in a race that had both a Dem and a Rep just helps the Republican-it's a vote to not to vote, therefore basically gives the Republican half a vote.

by Geotpf 2006-04-04 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval
Collin C Peterson
and he represents my district, imagine that
by Trinhmaster 2006-04-03 03:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

Sorry, bad idea.  Collin Peterson represents his district and the positions popular there quite well.  (Unlike, say, Jim Moran, who should be much further to the left than he is given his constituency.)

If Peterson ever loses a Democratic primary to somebody on the left, we lose that seat to a republican.  That's almost a given.  Plus, Peterson has a good AFL-CIO record, decent on environmental issues, and is pro-gun rights (an issue the Dems desparately need to change on).  Of a list of Dems I'd like to see challenged from the left, Peterson doesn't even make the top 100.

by ACSR 2006-04-04 08:29AM | 0 recs
Overcoming the image of rugged individualism??

I have been involved in social programs relating to public health for my entire adult career of over 30 years.  Although I think the programs I was involved with were badly needed, they never got the social-political support they needed to be significant and effective.  Everytime a politician or lay person would try to make such a social program more comprehensive, there would always be that conservative politician out there crying socialism and this is not the American way.  

The idea of rugged individualism, and you have to do it for yourself, must be deeply ingrained in the American psyche, and overcoming that ingrained sentiment, IMO, is the largest obstacle in the way of progressive ideals.  To put it another way, it is sort of like an institutional bias that has evolved with the country, and will be/is an enormous challenge to overcome!

by NG 2006-04-03 04:02PM | 0 recs
Who's the LA rep who is corrupt?

We need to get that guy out of here.


by neutron 2006-04-03 04:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

Cuellar. Oh wait.

by bluenc 2006-04-03 04:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

We got started late on him.  Try again... this time we've got more time.

by bedobe 2006-04-03 04:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval
Were Republicans able to take Democratic primary ballots in that race?  I've heard speculation that there were crossovers voting for Cuellar.
If that's the case, a 2008 challenge makes sense.  They probably won't vote in a Democratic Congressional primary if there's a contested GOP presidential primary.
by ChgoSteve 2006-04-03 05:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

Ciro ran a bad campaign.

by Matt Stoller 2006-04-03 05:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

The problem here is that you are totally wrong. Your justification for your characterization is based in no fact, just some weird characterization of what you think Schumer's mindset is.

Look at his voting record. He's a liberal; you just don't like him because he doesn't check every box on your progressive check list.

by DemocraticBass 2006-04-03 05:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

well, we might know his mindset from having spoken with him: ason-30452-to-give-to-ned-lamont/

by Pachacutec 2006-04-03 05:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

This is such a typical response. You completely ignore my point. I don't care what you interpret his inner motivation to be based on one or two interviews. The guy votes as a Democrat. Calling him center-right is just stupid.

by DemocraticBass 2006-04-03 05:31PM | 0 recs
But was crossover voting allowed?
The number of voters in Cuellar's areas seemed much higher than in Ciro's.  Was that crossover or just poor GOTV work on our side?
I think there should be more analysis of what went right and what went wrong after a campaign in which the blogosphere gets financially and emotionally involved.  Otherwise it can seem that we're just trying one "Hail Mary pass" after another.
by ChgoSteve 2006-04-03 05:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

I nominate Jane Harman -- she's a Blue Dog Democrat in Southern California, a True Blue area.  Of course, her district does include some heavily republican enclaves.

by bedobe 2006-04-03 04:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

Jane Harman's district is not overwhelmingly progressive.  She's HUGELY popular there b/c she does an excellent job of representing the district.  Seriously, what's wrong with that?  FYI, she'll be the next Senator from California as soon as Feinstein retires...

by HSTruman 2006-04-03 04:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

she won't be.  she didn't gain ANY traction at all in the gov primary several years ago even against the charismatically-challenged gray davis.

plus harman's too fucking old.

New blood.  And perhaps someone not beholden to the military industrial complex and overly hawkish.

by jgarcia 2006-04-03 04:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

I live in the district, and I certainly don't feel that she does a very good job representing me.  She voted for the draconian, credit-card driven bankruptcy bill, and she's a war supporter.  The district can certainly do better than her.

by bedobe 2006-04-03 05:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

Hey, bedobe, glad to hear you live in Harman's district!
I've been dealing with Harman's staff on the Hill to get her to sign a resolution that will get a full and open debate on the Iraq War.  Democracy for America has launched a campaign called "Change the Course" to lobby House members to take more responsibility for the war. Find out more here.

Harman is actually surprisingly realistic about the war (she's said that there is a bipartisan consensus for an exit strategy), but she's reluctant to stick her neck out and actually DO something that counts.  So please put a little constituent pressure on her and call your local district office!

by keshini 2006-04-04 08:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

I agree! Jane Harman represents aerospace money, not any group of actual people. She is particularly dangerous because she has a shitload of money, choice committee appointments (where she always fucks things up) and regular appearances on talk shows. I fear she is being groomed to be the next Dianne Feinstein.

by mildewmaximilian 2006-04-03 08:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

I'll see your Jane Harman and raise you an Ellen Tauscher.  

by Matt Lockshin 2006-04-04 12:14AM | 0 recs
Beating Rahm

I'm not sure I want Emanuel defeated.  He's pissed me off (Duckworth, for instance), but I think we need to wait until November to see if he's the master strategist some think he is.  Perhaps the same thing goes for Schumer.

However, there is a candidate who could beat Emanuel in the primary.  His name is Tom Tunney and he's an openly gay Chicago alderman and business owner.
He is immensely popular and well known far beyond his ward.

by ChgoSteve 2006-04-03 04:53PM | 0 recs
Matt, I think you are losing it

Earlier you called Schumer a "center-right beltway type". Sure he is a "beltway" dem; he's in the Senate.

But "center-right"? Are you high? If Chuck Schumer is a centrist then apparently LaRouche now represents the progressive wing of the party.

You seem more interested in just criticizing every single Democrat than you are in winning elections and putting Democrats in office.

by DemocraticBass 2006-04-03 04:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Matt, I think you are losing it
Unfortunately, I think you're right. Schumer has a higher Progressive Punch score than Feingold, Kerry, and Biden.
by bluenc 2006-04-03 04:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Matt, I think you are losing it

Schumer entered Congress in 1980, I believe, and his formative experience as a politician was the Democratic Party's Reaganite move to the right.  You guys think I'm bashing him, I'm not.  I've talked to Schumer twice.  The first time was more illustrative of where he comes from; he mentioned how frustrated he was with the Democratic Party... of 1980 and how unconcerned it was with fitting into a majority conservative country.  This made sense, because 1980 saw a realignment towards a Reaganite majority coalition.  Today, he thinks that Bush commands this Reaganite coalition, rather than the neo-Confederate  tenuous coalition he's been able to patch together.

It's natural for politicians to do what has worked for them.  That's Schumer's instinct.

by Matt Stoller 2006-04-03 05:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Matt, I think you are losing it

On any other Western country's political spectrum he would be a centrist at best, as would most Democrats.

In many Western countries, he'd be certainly on the center-right.

The Democratic leadership pens rhetoric well to the right of the Conservative government of Dominique de Villepin on subjects ranging from public pensions to publicly-funded health insurance to foreign policy and so on.

Objectively speaking, Matt is correct. The man is arguably center-right.

And to the guy who called him a Leninist, man, you sure you're in the right party? Where did all these cold-warrior types calling themselves Democrats come from?  

by redstar66 2006-04-03 06:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Matt, I think you are losing it
But, compared to Genghis Khan, he's a pinko! Gimme a break.
by bluenc 2006-04-03 09:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Matt, I think you are losing it

Man, red baiting, that would be so......'70's!

And so....GOP.

by redstar66 2006-04-04 02:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Matt, I think you are losing it

You certainly seem like you know your political theory and history, so I'll assume your "cold-warrior" comment was flip.  But there certainly used to be a place in the Democratic party for individuals who aren't Doves.  FDR and Harry Truman, two of the Country's greatest Presidents in my estimation, certainly would be considered hawks today.  

by HSTruman 2006-04-04 09:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Matt, I think you are losing it

It was admittedly flip.

Left unsaid (explicitly) was the "red-baiting" part. And in fact, red-baiting cold-warriors tended to be found on the other side of the political spectrum, among Dixiecrats (like our current red-baiter who, unlike most of his soul-mates, still thinks of himself as a Democrat) and Republicans.

Red-baiting was plain stupid back in the 50's, accomplishing nothing but denying civil rights, a public voice and a right to a livelihood to quite a few people on what we now know to be a very flimsy basis. And if it was stupid in the '50's, it is beyond stupid 50 years later, especially coming from a supposed Democrat on a progressive site where more than a few of us are cut from varying shades of that cloth and are unashamed about it.

All this being said, you are correct, there certainly is a place for hard national security thinking for all who think they are worthy of governing, and this is just as true for lefties as it is for moderates, for conservatives and I suppose even for right-wingnuts. Nations have undeniable interests, at root the representation of a certain way of life and a system of values, and this is every bit as true of socially democratic nations like Europe as it is with more socially regressive countries like the US is slowly evolving into.

These interests need to be defended of course. Assuming lefties do not think so is essentialyl a strawman discussion. Where we tend to disagree is what the values are that need to be defended, and what are the best tactics to defend them.

FDR and Truman were undeniably able defenders of the American, relatively democratic and progressive way of life (given the times) from some pretty nasty, alien threats. War declarations on the part of enemies tend to focus the mind, and FDR was definitely up to the challenge.

However, getting the US into the war in Vietnam was not and is not hard national security thinking. It was adventurism pure and simple. And it was Vietnam itself, and not the protestors' reaction to it, which destroyed the bona fides of the Dems' stature on national security.

Whatever Johnson thought he was doing is well and good, and I'm sure there were many good intentions paving that road. The end result was a colonial war which ended as they usually do - defeat. And I know it is now in vogue to extol the virtues of Scoop Jackson Democrats, especially among middle-aged and baby-boomer "Risk by Parker Brothers" addicts, refered to by many of the rest of us as "neo-cons," but the fact is it was Scoop Jackson-style FP thinking which did the Dems in on foreign policy, and it is similar FP thinking animating the GOP today.

For Iraq is also pure adventurism. In time, it will prove to be the undoing of the current GOP FP establishment, just as Vietnam was the undoing of so-called "muscular" Democrats. What Democrats should now be doing, rather than playing the "me too but better than them" game (this latest document being a step in the right direction), is laying the groundwork for the kind of statesmanship that will need to take place to build the foundations for a more realistic, stable, solid and moral (yes moral) strategic foreign and national security policy.

Want to see an example of an effective foreign and national security policy that fits both left and right? Alternately pursued by both Socialists and Gaullists, France's foreign and security policy revolves around an able diplomatic corps, a modestly scaled but very potent conventional military component (unlike the rest of the Continent, France's army can fight when it needs to), nuclear deterrance, and last but in present times not least, capable intelligence gathering both abroad and at home. France does not get bogged down in military adventures halfway 'round the globe, and deals with its economic threats diplomtaically, not militarily. This is how you do it in the real world, well, at least the real world where governments don't piss away the national treasury on war games played by guys who fantasize about replaying the Crimean War on week-end.

And there is nothing written in stone which says just because you are a lefty you cannot be guided by realpolitik in matters of security and foreign policy.

Compare and contrast with the GOP's foreign and security policies. I think all of us can agree, even the red-baiting "Dems,"  that on this score, the GOP are amateurs. Unfortunately, many of the Dems, especially those who think Scoop Jackson is to be emulated, are perfectly willing to play the same game. In fact, they insist on saying, like the GOP, that this is the only game in town.

Certainly they can credibly say "we can play this game better than the amateurs in there now," and it is hard to argue with this. But the question becomes "is this game in our best interests?"

I would submit that it wasn't in '63, it wasn't in '03, and it still isn't.

by redstar66 2006-04-04 10:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Matt, I think you are losing it

Obviously I like Schumer more than most folks around here, which is fine.  But I still do think calling him a Reagan Democrat is just objectively incorrect.  The term Reagan Democrat usually refers to someone who, though still registered as a Democrat, actually votes Republican.  Moreover, the term generally is used to refer to white, socially conservative, blue collar Democrats who were pulled into the Republican column based on Republicans use of wedge issues.  

Given all of that, I don't quite get how Schumer qualifies as a Reagan Dem.  He may be moderate on some issues, but not the social ones, and he doesn't seem like the definition of blue collar to me.  

I suppose he was one of the folks that recognized the Democratic party's need to move away from their pre-1980 image and strategies, but in my book that just makes him smart.  Smart enough, incidentally, to know quite well where the holes are in GWB's coalition and go after them.  He and Rahm are two of the best political strategists the party has had in years.  I think November will prove that that's the case.        

by HSTruman 2006-04-04 09:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Matt, I think you are losing it

Is anyone else as bothered as I am that "Progressive Punch" is being bandied about so much on this website as some kind of last word on who is progressive or not?

That website's positions are boringly predictable, appear to have been selected to include so many votes that every Dem votes the same way on to make most Dems look more progressive than they really are, and has some relics from the Dukakis-era 1980s (gun control, etc) that I really had hoped we had learned our lessons on.  Whatever happened to the lessons of "What's the Matter With Kansas" anyhow?

Here's a better idea:  Look at the votes where Dems either split or mostly voted the wrong way, but where most progressives agree.  Things like NAFTA, CAFTA, the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Telecommunications Act, minimum wage increases, labor issues, etc.  Note that this does not include issues like gun control or immigration policy where there is no progressive consensus and we are all over the map.  Using those issues, look up how Schumer voted, vs. how Russ Feingold voted.  Feingold is a solid progressive.  Schumer is not.

by ACSR 2006-04-04 08:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Matt, I think you are losing it

Progressives are the center, not the banking industry.

by mildewmaximilian 2006-04-03 08:17PM | 0 recs
No Need To Wait! Target Jane Harman NOW!

No waiting, dude!  Marcy Winograd is challenging Jane Harman now.

(1) It's a solidly Democratic district. (It was competetive before the 2000 census redistricting, but is now GOP-proof.)  

(2) Harman is a long-time Beltway Democrat who moved back to LA to find a district to run from so she could go back to the Beltway.

(3) In the past she's advertised herself as "the best Republican in the Democratic Party."

(4) She's pro-war.

(5) She's ranking member on the House Intelliegence Committee, and from that high-visibility post she has defended the secret NSA wiretap program AND attacked the NYT for leaking the story about it, echoing Bushco lies that the mere mention of the program damages US national security.

(6) Marcy is a progressive Democratic activist.  President of the LA Chapter of Progressive Democrats of America.

(7) This weekend, Winograd BLOCKED Harman's endorsement by party!  It's just the first round, the local delegate caucus.  But Winograd got 35% of the delegate vote, after being in the race under two months.  Now, in order to get the party endorsement, Harman will have to try again at the State Convention, where the grassroots are less heavily represented.  This is a clear indication of (a) substantial disatisfaction with Harman among activists in her district and (b) the seriousness of Winograd's challenge.

(8) Even if you're convinced Winograd couldn't possibly win, what better way to get a start on the primaries for next time than to give her a boost now???

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-04-03 04:54PM | 0 recs
Re: No Need To Wait! Target Jane Harman NOW!

Thanks for this -- I will definetly follow up.  If you have a site for her please post a link.

by bedobe 2006-04-03 05:26PM | 0 recs
Re: No Need To Wait! Target Jane Harman NOW!

Shit, never mind about the link: I should've been more careful and noticed the link you provided.  thanks

by bedobe 2006-04-03 05:27PM | 0 recs
Re: No Need To Wait! Target Jane Harman NOW!

Amen! Stop Harman before she gets control of the Intelligence Committee! That would be a disaster!

by mildewmaximilian 2006-04-03 08:19PM | 0 recs
Disagree with Your Concept of Dem Coalition

The Dem Coalition is not a linear spectrum from Moderate to Progressive. I don't even think moderate dems are a very cohesive or even identifiable segment of the electorate. Maybe your definitions hold true within the professional, elected or inner-party dem establishment.

According to the Pew Typology report, the Democratic coalition doesn't break down by moderate-liberal, rather our coalition consists of several identifiable clusters. The Republicans are the same way: Pro-Business, Religious & Social Issues, Pro-Government are groupings, not a linear spectrum.

In the Dem survey, the largest sector are the Liberal/Progressives who still hold a torch for traditional Dem issues and values without compromise: National Health Care, Non-interventionist Foreign Policy, Progressive Tax Structure, Pro gay-rights and pro-Reproductive Rights... we can all name the issues.

The other half (33-66% depending on region) of the Dem Coalition includes Labor, Blacks, Hispanics, Rust-belt and Urban middle & lower-middle classes. They share a lot of the Economic-Populist values of the Liberal wing, but may or may not agree with Liberal social issues. On foreign policy these other groups may be more willing to intervene or support a neo-con aggressive stance.

30 years ago, labor democrats could be counted on for an anti-communist line, so perhaps the dem coalition is more together today on foreign policy than in the past.

My point is that the spectrum isn't linear Progressive to Moderate, rather we have certain shared issues and some few differences. Our coalition is held together by agreeing to disagree on certain social issues, but within the democratic party there is no reason for us to seek a moderate line or compromise on traditional Democratic Economic issues , i.e. "Republican-Lite" on taxes or SS or Health Care or Labor. I don't think that many moderate dems really exist on these issues. Moderate Independents or cast-out Moderate Republican, maybe, but not within the democratic supporters.

Our main weakness is that the more disadvantaged dems are so disillusioned that they don't bother to vote. Moving to the middle won't solve that; delivering on the Dem promise might. Maybe the immigration issue will rock the hispanic communities and we'd double their vote!

by MetaData 2006-04-03 04:59PM | 0 recs
spheres of influence-
Did you catch Devilstower's "Venn Politics" piece at Politicalcortex (xposted at big orange)?  It really ties in nicely to what you've said here.
At Political Cortex
by Austin in PA 2006-04-04 06:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

Matt's call to arms is something we all need to take seriously. But 2007? That's something we need to face but there is still 2006. Rahm Emanuel has succeeded in driving most progressive and grassroots Democrats out of races challenging vulnerable Republican incumbents. Many of us did the best we could for Christine Cegelis although, regrettably, there was no overall netroots action on this one the way there was on Ciro Rodriguez. It is NOT too late to take Emanuel on and kick his Beltway power-monger ass in CA-11 (Pomboville) by getting behind the clear grassroots progressive, Jerry McNerney who is being forced to battle a parachuted-in DCCC shill instead of concentrating all his energy and resources on one of the most odious Republicans on Capitol Hill. Pombo goes beyond rubber-stamp. He's very much a part of the leadership coming up with the harebrained schemes the wingnuts are rubber-stamping! There's a very similar race in FL-13, where the grassroots progressive, Jan Schneider, is defending herself against a full frontal assault from the most corrupted and dangerous elements of the Inside the Beltway power-mongers, Emanuel and Hoyer.

People like Emanuel and Schumer (who I went to high school with) are not Republicans-- though it would be nice if they could remind us of how they're not now and again-- but, like Republican politicians they only respect two things: money and power. They need to be taken on and beaten.

by DownWithTyranny 2006-04-03 05:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

This is an excellent post.  Chris is entirely correct that the Democratic Party is a coalition between progressives and some very non-progressive elements (likewise the Republican Party is a coalition between religious fundamentalists, corporatists, western populists, and small town middle class Midwestern types).  Progressives had rarely had the upper hand, I would say only in 1932-38 and in 1964, and the Democratic Party used to include the most reactionary element in the country in the form of the Dixie establishment.

In terms of internal party battles, I would suggest that progressive adopt the concept of the "Lieberman Line".  In other words, the problem is not so much a right-trending voting record, as a willingness to go on television and repeat the Republican talking points.  That does much more damage to the party than the loss of a seat or making the tent smaller.  On the matter of Jane Harman, from what I've seen she has crossed the Lieberman Line and is fair game.

Another target is obviously corrupt politicians within the party, such as Mr. Jefferson from New Orleans.

The third group of targets should be the remaining boll weevils.  Generally these are politicians from areas in southern states with heavy Democratic registration, but which vote Republican in presidential elections, and the politicians themselves vote with the Republican caucus more likely than not.  Henry Cuellar would be an example.  These guys are very likely to switch parties at an opportune moment, so there is little to be lost in giving them a primary challenge.

The fourth priority are representatives from very blue states and districts with much higher than average support for progressive politicians, who don't have a voting record that matches their district or are otherwise duds.  Arguably this fits Emmanual and Schumer, but their bases are heavily Democratic but not liberal parts of Chicago and NYC.

One group I would not challenge are the Blue Dogs, who function almost as a minor political party allied with the Democrats.  There is usually no way a progressive or a DLC style Democrat can win in their areas, and they aren't in contention to take over leadership or direction of the party.  The battle really here is between various groups of progressives and DLC-associated politicians.

Incidentally, I think Tasini's primary challenge of Hillary Clinton could finally break the link between HRC and hard-core Marxist-hippiest Vietnam war protesting leftists in people's minds.  That will be helpful for both her and the progressive left.

by Michels 2006-04-03 05:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

I think there's real added value in the whole Lieberman thing to persuade those in the middle like Schumer to pay more attention and care to those of us who vote for them, and to adjust their actions accordingly (which is where i see Schumer--he's movable as opposed to many) He's one of my Senators and beats Hillary by miles (altho that's not saying that much).

Take the horrendous bankruptcy thing---what would Schumer do with a seat on the Finance committee to fix it? It's absolutely and vitally necessary to pin him and others down on specifically what they'll do if we give them a majority. And Schumer's ambitions are modest, compared to many--he knows he'll never be on a presidential ticket nor does he want to be. So let him and everyone show us what will be fixed, reversed and otherwise done right instead of horribly and tragically wrong, as it is now.

by amberglow 2006-04-03 05:34PM | 0 recs
Seriously flawed formulation

"From 1932 until 1968, progressives had the upper hand in this coalition, which was at the time a governing coalition."

What? During most of that time Congressional Democratic Chairmen had much more control of the levers of government than they have had since. And largely speaking those Democrats were Dixiecrat Racists. Between 1964 and 1968 these guys made the choice to move from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party with a pit stop with George Wallace along the way.

If you define "Progressive" as urban whites fighting to the death to prevent Northeastern Republicans using southern blacks to bust unions then you might have a point. But the real Progressive movement started when with LBJ we decided that justice for all workers, black and white, was more important than dividing workers against workers along racial lines.

Anyone who looks at the Democratic Party circa 1954 and sees it dominated by "Progressives" and the Republicans dominated by "Reactionaries" needs to contemplate which party put Edmund Brooke into the Senate and Nelson Rockefeller in the forefront of the Republican Party (and yes I understand that Nelson lost his mind at Attica - his desire to be President simply overwhelmed his fundatmentally moderate instincts).

Truman, Kennedy and Johnson were constantly cutting deals with the Party of the Confederacy. They really had no choice. Strom Thurmond leaving the Party is 1948 was just the beginning of a really good thing, one that ultimately cost us control of Congress in 1994. Long painful transition but if you are a truly hateful racist chances are that you are not wearing a lapel badge today.

Yes the FDR New Deal had progessivism built in. But it required a bunch of ugly compromises with urban Democratic machines built on patronage and Southern Democratic grandees who organized their power around racism. Well it has not been easy, and I may not see the ultimate benefits, but we have a good chance of aligning the Democratic Party on the Right Side of what Fukuyama called "The End of History".

by Bruce Webb 2006-04-03 06:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Seriously flawed formulation

Shorter version: Progressive politics in the US undercut by rampant racism.

Not a whole lot to argue there imho.

by redstar66 2006-04-04 02:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

The problem with Chuck Schumer is not his voting record which is left of center on most issues, it is his inability to stay out of any issue or matter.  He is a media hog and can never sit on the sidelines.  This quality will no doubt help Democrats in the Senate because he is very smart politically and will be an asset to many candidates running this fall.  You just want to make sure you are not in between him and a camera or reporter - he'll literally run you over.

Cross referencing to Chris's post, we need to win elections which sometimes means making tough decisions and fighting back.  Schumer knows how to win elections.  He took out Al D'Amato, who was one of the most ruthless politicians I have ever seen.  Chuck was able to do that because he has many of the same qualities.

After so many years in the minority, I want to win and I have no doubt Schumer can help us do that.  I am a lot more interested in controlling one branch of government and serving as check against Bush than pursuing ideological purges.

by John Mills 2006-04-03 07:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

Schumer is also an important asset for his fundraising ability. He really is doing a damn fine job right now.

by js noble 2006-04-03 07:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

Steny Hoyer.

by mildewmaximilian 2006-04-03 08:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

Schumer's wakeup call will be the defeat of Lieberman in the CT primary.  

by global yokel 2006-04-03 08:25PM | 0 recs
On the subject of races where we should primary...

Jane Harman and Ellen Tauscher are apparently our senators-in-waiting here in Cali.  (Although who knows how long they're gonna have to wait... maybe I'm repeating worthless gossip.)  They're both members of the Blue Dog Coalition.  They're worth thinking about.

I really don't know the Congress well enough to play this game.  

Didn't we lose the primary in Gephardt's district to an unnecessary centrist?

And we really should hit Cuellar again.  Early and hard.

Are there any rotten Ds in New Jersey we can beat?

by texas dem 2006-04-03 08:31PM | 0 recs
Agreed--and a question

I totally agree with your analysis of how the Democratic party is a coalition of centrists and progressives (or moderates and liberal), with a few conservatives thrown in for good measure, and on how prograssives need to find a way to reassert themselves within the larger party structure. I.e. a progressive counterpart to the DLC (the PLC?).

Quick question, when you wrote the following, did you mean 2006 or 2008, since 2007 will not be a major election year:

"That means primary challenges in 2007 for Democrats in the House"

Or did you mean that we need to start recruiting and building campaign organizations around such progressive challengers as early in 2007?

by kovie 2006-04-03 09:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Agreed--and a question

Yes, that's what I meant.

by Matt Stoller 2006-04-04 08:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

steny hoyer, rahm emmanmuel, jane harman. all three have actively worked to pass some of the most odious parts of bush's agenda when we should have been holding party line votes. all three are in leadership positions. while i don't have much hope of even scaring them in '06, we ought to be noting who voted for things like bankruptcy, war, tax cuts for the rich, free trade corporate giveaways, social security privatization, and other rediculous bills, and then target them in the '08 primaries.

thinking about lobbying for the DCCC and DSCC chair positions, or at least learning how they get chosen, might also be a good idea. getting dean in the DNC took some pressure off of the grassroots, but we need reformers with their hands on more of those levers of DC power.

by wu ming 2006-04-03 11:41PM | 0 recs
Peterson, Cuellar and Lipinski

All 3 are atriocious (STUNNINGLY awful) on social issues that are important to progressives, and all come from districts that could elect better progressive Democrats.

I think the attacks on Rahm and Harman are are going overboard though. You might not like that they are "establishment" or the war thing or whatever, but in terms of their support for basic progressive causes like the right to choose, the environment, gay rights, they are vastly superior to people like Cuellar and Lipinski.

by ScottC 2006-04-04 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

How can you say "since 1980, progressives have had basically no influence in the party."?   In 1984 Mondale, a tried and true Liberal, was the nominee.  In 1988 and 2004 progressives rallied around two Massachusetts liberals who tried really hard to tell the public (that did not believe them) they were moderates (they weren't).  In 2000 Al Gore ran away from Bill Clinton's (and his own up to that point) very successful centrist record and ran as populist (remember the People v. The Powerful?) and lost. Since 1980 the party got it right twice, in 1992 they nominated two Southern DLC Democrats and then were smart enough to run them again in 1996.  Otherwise the lefties have been in control and the Democratic Party been out of touch and out of the White House.

by ditka 2006-04-04 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval

I agree with you that progressives have hardly been out of power since 1980, but I don't think you're quite right in saying that Clinton ran and won purely as a centrist.  

If you look at Clinton's 1992 campaign, both his rhetoric and his platform were quite populist.  Admittedly his whole "New Democrat" breaking with orthodoxy spiel helped get a certain segment of the Country to listen to what he had to say, but a lot of the ideas (think healthcare reform and middle class tax cuts) were quite progressive.  

by HSTruman 2006-04-04 02:50PM | 0 recs


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