Clarifying on the Need for Upheaval
by Matt Stoller, Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 02:39:26 PM EDT
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.