There are several wealthy people putting money into building liberal foundations and activist groups (Soros and so on), and I'm not necessarily knocking them. But I have to wonder how much more effective they would be if all that money were instead put into an all-out effort to unionize all the big-box stores, all at once. Not just Wal-Mart but also Home Depot, Target, Best Buy, etc etc. Not just one store at a time, as we have seen how Wal-Mart will react, but every single Wal-Mart at once. That will take a huge, all-out effort. It will take a lot of money. It will not be easy.
Of course the big question is, are the wealthy donors putting so much into liberal groups willing to support a big unionization effort (that is, barring any legal reason why they could not, such as businessmen pouring money into unionization efforts being considered "anticompetitive behavior" by the government?) Or are unions not the sort of "progressivism" that Soros et al had in mind?
That aside, unionizing Wal-Mart and all the other big box stores should be priority #1 for the Democrats/progressives/liberals/left right now. When that is accomplished, the next step should be to unionize the entire third world, which is the only thing ever historically proven to end sweatshop conditions and usher in a strong, large middle class.
I have to wonder if any other effort by liberals or progressives, that doesn't have reviving organized labor as the centerpiece, isn't just a waste of time that will result in more lost elections? Progressivism rises and falls with organized labor. The fate of the Democratic Party at the ballot box rises and falls with organized labor. Indeed, the middle class itself rises and falls with organized labor. It would be interesting to see if some of our more wealthy supporters understand that fact and are willing to put their money toward the one thing that will truly help us - union organizing?
In 1992 Casey was shouted down and denied the right to speak by campus protesters chanting "ray-cist, sex-sist, an-ti-gay, Governor Ca-sey go-a-way!" just because of his views on abortion.
That sounds like mistreatment to me.
Although to be fair, I do not personally know whether the protesters were even Democrats. I would like to think they were members of some whacko Trotskyite sect and not Democrats...but I have to wonder.
I can't speak for The Moderate but let me try to explain my own position.
The left is and has always been synonymous with labor, in the broadest sense of the word. It includes the organized union movement but is much broader than that: the left represents the economic interests of the working class.
The party which has traditionally represented the economic interests of the working class has been the Democratic Party. This despite the pretensions and false claims of other parties to represent the working class, such as the Communists, other laughable ultra-left sects, and more recently via their backlash narrative, the Republicans. The real representative of the working class in government is the Democrats, and it's been that way since the New Deal and FDR. I would like to think this is still the case.
My point: The left is defined by economic (not social) issues. The Democratic Party should be defined by economic (not social) issues. Why would somebody who is pro-war, anti-abortion, religious, pro-death penalty, or so on be interested in the Democratic Party? It could be because they are also pro-national health care, pro-raising the minimum wage, pro-union, anti-offshoring, anti-globalization, anti-Taft Hartley Act, pro-Social Security, etc.
My own position on social issues tends to be pro-choice (on almost everything, including abortion and gay rights, but also guns and other "safety" issues like helmet laws - which I guess puts me to the right of the Republicans on those last two issues), and generally anti-war (on labor/working class grounds, not pacifist grounds: the working class has no interest in fighting the working class from another country.) But I don't see any of those issues defining what the Democratic Party should be, and I resent the party having been defined by social issues in the eyes of some. The party should be defined by economic issues, and the minute that liberal social issues become the defining litmus test of the party is the minute the Democratic Party ceases to have a good reason for being.
Partly, the Republican backlash narrative has worked overtime to convince people that the Democratic Party has become defined by social issues. Unfortunately, there are far too many Democrats who seem to want to prove the Republicans right, by making abortion, gay rights, gun control, pro-mass-immigration, and so on litmus tests for the party, instead of making labor, being pro-union, pro-living wage, pro-health care, pro-Social Security the litmus tests.
That's my position and it means I'm more than willing to welcome social conservatives as fellow Democrats - so long as they are economic liberals. I'm not so willing to welcome those with right-wing economic views, no matter how liberal they are on social issues.
San Miguel County, NM is the strongest Dem county in the state - home of the charming town of Las Vegas, a town with a lot of history where the old New Mexico still runs strong.
I immediately noticed another one: Kittson County, Minnesota, was one that switched from Bush in 2000 to Kerry in 2004. USA Today missed it. I think their claim that only 11 counties switched in our direction is bunk.
I do not support increasing the military by 40,000 troops or increasing special ops by 2000.
S.14 looks great. Increase the minimum wage, restore overtime protections, eliminating tax incentives for companies taking jobs overseas - good stuff.
"Fully funding No Child Left Behind and improving its implementation"? How about repealing it instead?
Good to see voting reform addressed with S.17.
I strongly support increasing funding for family planning and contraceptive coverage. Good to see that addressed.
What's missing? The environment (except for family planning, which is an environmental issue - overpopulation.) Energy independence and investment in alternative energy - nowhere to be found. An explicit pro-labor stance - the words "union" or "labor" are not mentioned once on that website, and I believe reviving organized labor should be priority #1 for Democrats. Civil liberties, protecting privacy, repealing the Patriot Act - not on the agenda apparently.
One thing I'm glad to not see mentioned is gun control or whatever euphemism it is being called these days. Glad to see it's not on the agenda.
Here's the agenda I'd like to see:
Revive organized labor. Repeal the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. Repeal all "right to work" laws. Enact federal card-check legislation.
Civil liberties and privacy. Repeal the Patriot Act and reform the Homeland Security Act, for starters. Take concerete steps to curb the ubiquitous surveillance in our culture and protect job applicants from misuse of "background checks" by employers. Oppose any moves toward a national ID card.
Stop offshoring of jobs and guest worker programs. Repeal the H-1B and L-1 visa programs. Enact tax penalties for companies moving jobs overseas. Reform or repeal NAFTA and the WTO to protect the environment and American jobs.
Environmental protection. Enact a national initiative to develop and invest in alternative energy. Defend wilderness areas threatened by Bush policies.
Some sort of non-military national service program (voluntary, not mandatory, but make it a huge one along the lines of the old New Deal-era CCC and WPA). Kerry had a great proposal during his campaign to offer 4 years free college in exchange for 2 years national service, and another great proposal for a Forest Restoration Corps. I hope the Democratic leadership picks up on his proposals and makes them a priority.
Increase the federal minimum wage to $8.50/hr and automatically adjust it annually for inflation.
Pull out of Iraq, and concentrate efforts in that region solely on finding and prosecuting Osama bin Laden. Once bin Laden is captured, remove all U.S. military presence from the Middle East.
Seriously address rural issues and concerns. Defend family farms. Combine environmental issues with appeal to sportsmen and workers rather than alienating them. Take a stronger stand on illegal immigration. Reach out to independent voters (i.e. former Perot voters) and non-voters.
I realize that this agenda is not going to happen as long as Republicans are in power, but if the Democratic Party would start taking a strong stand for those things, people might, just might, have a reason to vote again, and vote for Democrats.
I haven't seen TN-3 mentioned yet; that seat was Democratic until the Republican sweep of 1994, when Zach Wamp took it. Wamp hasn't faced a strong opponenent since, but the right person could pull it off.
TN-3 is a traditionally Democratic area of Tennessee, which now votes Republican since the backlash narrative took hold. Runs from Chatanooga northeast to Claiborne County and includes some of the Tennessee River and much of the Clinch River (TVA country), the government town of Oak Ridge and some coal mining communities. It also includes some areas which are traditionally heavily Republican (e.g. Union County) but I believe Chattanooga carries the vote and it has swing district potential. The two districts to the east (TN-1 and TN-2) are solid Republican territory. The district immediately to the west (TN-4) is held by a Democrat.
Camacho has run twice against Franks now, with about the same results (59%-38%). The district is just too heavily Republican, about 2-1 Republican in voter registration, to be winnable.
The Arizona Republic endorsed Camacho in both 2002 and 2004 over Franks, and also endorsed Franks' Republican primary opponent in 2004, and they are a conservative Republican paper, which makes me think the Arizona Republic editors have some sort of personal grudge against Franks.
AZ-5 is also problematic for the same reason, lopsidedly Republican in voter registration.
I think our best bet might be Kolbe's district. It's a Democratic district but Kolbe wins crossover votes because he is openly gay and pro-choice, even if he does vote along the usual hard-right party lines on economic and foreign policy issues. But he barely fended off a primary challenge from the right wing of his own party, and another primary challenge from the "Club for Growth" types could happen again in 2006. The catch, if somebody from the hard right defeats Kolbe in the primary, the Democrat wins the general election in that district. As for Kolbe himself, there is simply no excuse for Democrats crossing over to vote for the enemy (I feel the same way about McCain, Specter, etc.). Somehow we need to educate Democratic voters about the importance of straight-ticket voting and inculcate some team spirit. Accomplish that, and Kolbe (and Renzi) are history.
Rick Renzi seems to be a pro at the insider political game. I believe the RNC has a policy of letting congressmen from Republican-held swing districts get whatever appropriations they ask for, because they know that is a way to win voters and hold onto seats. Renzi has thrown out bones to all kinds of constituencies, including getting a lot of money for the Navajo Nation over the last two years. As a result, the Navajo Nation endorsed Renzi and then also endorsed Babbitt the next day while standing by their Renzi endorsement. The Navajo Nation usually endorses only Democrats. There were actually some precincts on the Navajo Nation that were won by Kerry, Stu Starky for Senate (over McCain), and Renzi for Congress, showing that there were a lot of people who voted straight Democratic tickets except for Renzi - not just on the Navajo Nation but throughout the district. Another example is the mining towns in the southeast part of the district (e.g. Clifton and Globe), which usually vote Democratic due to strong United Mine Workers presence, but the Babbitt name is not a popular one there (I'm not sure why, I've heard it goes back to labor disputes in the 1980s and Bruce Babbitt). Even Flagstaff went heavily for Kerry but split 50-50 between Renzi and Babbitt.
I'm not defending Renzi here. He probably belongs on the top-10 list of sleaziest politicians in Congress. But he knows how to play the appropriations game, and the RNC lets him because they know this is a swing district. He also unfortunately knows how to play the vicious attack ad game, while the last two Democratic nominees ran timid campaigns. To win this seat we need somebody who will go straight for the jugular and deal with Renzi on his own level.
I'm a big advocate of challenging every seat. In 2006 we should aim for 435 Democrats running for the House. This might mean grassroots activists (including anyone reading this, especially if you live in a district where no Democrat ran in 2004), getting on the ballot in 2006.
Obviously we have to be selective and target the most winnable seats, and party funds can't be spread too thin, but there were some in 2004 that I think were winnable (e.g. CA-26) that the party virtually ignored. The actblue.com site was a great idea to allow for more netroots fundraising. While the party concentrates its funds on targeted seats, the netroots can pick out other races to target too.
In a Democratic sweep year, we can win many seats that normally wouldn't be considered pickups, and having a Democratic candidate in every possible race, from U.S. Senate to local dog catcher, will help.
A Democratic sweep year for 2006 is what we should be laying the groundwork for now. I sent a lot of donations to Democratic House and Senate candidates in 2004, the first time I had ever done so - unfortunately none of the candidates I donated to (including Charlie Stenholm, Brad Carson, Cynthia Matthews, Jeff Seemann, Matt Connealy, Stu Starky etc.) won, but in an off year like 2006, with no Presidential campaign, a lot more of the netroots fundraising can go to taking back the House and Senate.
Maybe even more important than fundraising to laying the groundwork for a 2006 sweep is to rebuild the liberal base in this country.
Idaho is a Republican stronghold right now but that doesn't mean Democrats don't have a chance there. Idaho is really three states: The largely Mormon south/east part of the state, the Panhandle, and Boise. Boise, like most western cities, is trending Democratic. And the Panhandle used to be the most Democratic leaning part of the state, owing to its history of labor union struggles. I don't see CD 2 as being within reach, but CD 1 is a different story altogether.
The Panhandle turned Republican along with other former rural Democratic strongholds (e.g. West Virginia) but it's not out of reach. Montana and Colorado showed us how it's done.
Idaho is, after all, the state that sent Frank Church to the U.S. Senate for four terms.
Erin, how does one get involved in helping to select the state party committee members? Do you have to be a precinct committee member to vote, or can any registered Democrat show up and vote? I'm in Arizona too, and didn't know about this.
I can't consider myself a Libertarian - there are too many areas where regulation is needed (wage and labor laws, trade) or government does a better job than the private sector could (national parks, roads, police). That's why I'm a liberal. However I can completely agree with where you are coming from and think liberals and libertarians do need to reach out and at least work together where we agree.
Some libertarians are already reaching out in our direction, for example: http://www.lewrockwell.com/gregory/gregory54.html
We can do likewise. Beyond labor and environmental issues and taxes, there is a lot of overlap in liberal and libertarian positions otherwise.
Even more important might be for Democrats to seriously take up real fiscal responsiblity as an issue. The Republican right has for too long claimed to be the party of smaller government, but then they get into office and increase spending at a faster rate than ever, while mortgaging our future by running up the federal debt. We can make a serious effort for Democrats to become known as the party of fiscal restraint - including looking for areas to cut government spending. I don't mean defunding important programs or deregulating business, but cutting a lot of the unnecessary pork.
The Republican right has been using "cut government pork" as a talking point for too long, and getting away with it. That should rightfully be our talking point, not theirs.
I also think the Democratic Party would do well to drop gun control and affirm support for the Second Amendment, and work to end the drug war and decriminalize drugs, at least with regard to marijuana. Those are issues where the libertarians have something we could learn from.
It goes without saying that the Democratic Party should be the party of civil liberties and social tolerance. That's another area of common ground.
Another group that I don't know much about, but looks like a promising effort to bridge the gap between liberals and libertarians, and to do so by working within the Democratic Party: http://www.progress.org/dfc/
I've also said in other posts that I think the Perot/Reform Party voters, Reagan Democrats, and populism more generally, should be a natural constituency for the Democratic Party (in fact, at one time, roughly 1932-1978, they were), but we dropped the ball and the Republicans won them over during the 1990s. We cannot afford to drop the ball anymore. I support a big tent approach for the Democratic Party, with room for many different caucuses and viewpoints, including those with libertarian leanings. That doesn't mean we shouldn't be an opposition party and oppose the Republican agenda; we should. But an influx of many new ideas will help a long way with that, because it is obvious that the narrow DLC approach isn't working.
The conventional wisdom has been that since 9/11, the country has divided more firmly between the two major parties, and has turned away from third parties. In the 1990s it looked like third parties, especially Green and Reform, were poised to become minor powerhouses. But if this is any indication, third parties have become more attractive to voters. The only parties to really decline were Reform and Natural Law, which I think was inevitable for both since they were largely single-issue or personality-based.
The Libertarians ran fewer candidates, down to 145 from 217, but received almost the same vote total. The Greens ran fewer candidates, 45 as opposed to 58, but got more votes.
It also looks like the Libertarian strongholds right now are California and Arizona, and the Greens likewise strongest in California.
I'm not quite sure what this increasing third party support means for Democrats. One thing that sticks out is both the Greens and Libertarians took strong stands against the Patriot Act and the Iraq war, while the Democratic Party, for the most part, did not. This made third party votes more attractive to some voters.
I'm saying this as somebody who is a "yellow dog" Democrat, but wished the party had acted as a true opposition party instead of lending bipartisan support to the war and the Patriot Act. I'll vote for the Democrat, not for a third party. The only exception is if the race is between a Republican and a third party, then and only then will I vote for the third party candidate.
But there are many who are alienated from both parties, who believe that neither party speaks for them. This is apparent not only in votes for third parties, but also in the large number who don't bother to vote at all.
Somehow, the Democratic Party needs to widen its tent, reach out to Green and Libertarian voters, moderate Republicans, former Perot and Reform party supporters, and non-voters. The party has to convince these people that we do speak to their issues and will address their concerns, if only given a chance. Right now, I'm not sure how this can be done so long as the only difference the Democratic Party can show from the Republicans is one of degree rather than substance (e.g. "we support the Patriot Act but think it could be modified; we support the Iraq war but not the way Bush went about it; we think No Child Left Behind is a great law and the only problem is it isn't being fully funded", etc.)