Absolutely!!! I couldn't agree with you more. I feel very strongly that we need to return to being the party of big ideas, and this is a big idea the country is absolutely ripe for. Democrats have been way too skittish about this issue; even in 2000, just 7 years after Clinton's managed competition debacle, I think a leader like Bill Bradley could have made something happen. (With all due respect to the Al Gore fans here, I was never that excited about his candidacy back in 2000; his failure to articulate an ambitious plan to deal with the health care crisis is a major reason.)
Employers are getting desperate. Many people in the middle class are getting desperate. There's a coalition to be built here that crosses traditional constituencies. Even the evil Wal-Mart could probably be brought on board; they'd like the problem to go away as much as, or more than, anyone. It's just such a damn shame we lost Wellstone, he would have been a natural leader in the Senate for this.
The key, in my opinion, is to think up a version of the single payer system that would work in the U.S. Mimicing the inefficiencies of the current insurance network through "managed competition" or that sort of thing doesn't strike me as a sensible approach.
In case this isn't evident from my tone, I'm thrilled to see this bubbling up in the political discourse again after a long, dark night.
If the decision was mine, instead of trying to support a ridiculous number, like the 88 I've seen bandied about, the netroots would support six or seven candidates and pour every dime into those races.
This part of your post I entirely agree with. Of course, getting agreement on the six or seven... -chuckle. But spreading support thin is a crazy strategy, as appealing as the Quixote fund sounds at first blush.
There are many ways to fight. Nancy Pelosi does the right thing the vast majority of the time, and I want to see her become Speaker in 2006.
I'll fight like hell for a Bill Bradley or Howard Dean in 2008. I'm ready to go to the mat for a candidate of big ideas who will speak honestly on the war, fight for universal health care, and take poverty seriously again.
My calculus for house candidates in someone else's district is more pragmatic. What use of my $ will go the furthest toward creating Speaker Pelosi? I don't think supporting candidates in the primaries is the most effective use of $. And I'll fund candidates in the general election that I believe in, rather than the DCCC; that's where I draw my line in the sand.
I also have strong beliefs, that I will fight for, in pluralism of views (i.e., the so called "big tent") and in local agency - legitimacy flowing from consent of the governed through their representatives and their democratic process. Thus, my greatest concern here is the unacceptable way that the DCCC has been meddling. michael in chicago's has laid out strong arguments for why what Chris proposes isn't, effectively, counter-meddling. Not yet persuaded.
All that said, I don't think that just rolling over and letting the DCCC steamroll folks is a good plan either. [...] Might it not be a better use of our resources to focus on putting up a successful candidate elsewhere than funding an internal war within the party that just sucks more money away from the broader goal?
This, right there, is the poser, isn't it. The goal is a more progressive government. What's the best way to get there? There's got to be some balance between working with and pushing back against the DCCC and other Democratic Party organs.
I don't believe Duckworth's entry is acceptable, based on what I understand of it. I similarly think it's not a good sign that her entry seems to be linked to the fulfillment of a fad - the fighting dem. So we don't disagree there.
Let me try to draw the fine line between what does and doesn't concern me, linked to the first two points that I raised and you responded to.
The netroots, when their energies are marshalled, have a great deal of power. The ability to unify effort and money from the many, many thousands of readers of Daily Kos, MyDD, Atrios, and the many smaller blogs is an inspiring phenomenon. It was inspiring to see it work for Dean, and then for Hackett; you could just get this rushing sense of energy and purpose. It's also tremendously gratifying that candidates and representatives are starting to pay attention, including some I have particular respect for. (E.g., I have taken great pleasure at seeing Louise Slaughter reach out. I've watched her political rise since I lived in her district during her first Congressional race in what... 1986, I think? I wasn't old enough to vote yet, but she is one of those people who got me believing in politics - a great person as well as a committed progressive voice. I hope she's there to run the Rules Committee when we finally kick the bums out.) And Dean becoming DNC chair was a tremendous victory.
But with all that power and energy comes a real risk. The netroots are still the small dog compared to the DCCC, at least in terms of $ and raw influence, and that's linked to all these problems, of course. But compared to a local grassroots operation, when rallied, we're rapidly becoming the big dog; a kind of alternative national establishment made up of very anti-establishment types.
Not just in politics, when any kind of grassroots organization operating at a disadvantage against a large patron reaches out to another large patron for assistance, there's an assymetry in the relationship. If the large patron comes in with something to prove, and/or with their own established interests, the risk increases that the strings attached to that assistance become overwhelming. And this is even when everyone has the best of intentions, as I strongly believe is the case here.
Like I said to BigDog once when he argued with me on a marginally related point, I am in no position to second-guess the decisions by local activists about how and from whom to seek support. I think the netroots are a fabulous base of support, filled with energy and enthusiasm and idealism that is so refreshing to a borderline cynic like me, and I've enjoyed becoming one of the more recent members of this community. If Cegelis says, "I need a organized effort behind me to accomplish these things [...]," then fair enough - and at a minimum the first concern I listed is much diminished.
But she, and the local activists, have got to be clearly in the driver's seat. There's a hair-width line between one grassroots organization helping out another, and the creation (even inadvertently) of districts as pawns in a bigger battle. I worry about that because I've seen so very many examples - both from personal experience, and through my training as an Anthropologist - where outside help carries a heavy cost if those outside helpers have something to prove, or are pursuing strong interests of their own.
So, I've said my peace on this. I appreciate your response; I'll keep an open mind.
By the way, I figured I should clarify that when I said this:
But "any way possible" - to me - suggests volunteers in the district, possibly advertisements, etc; I worry very much about contributing toward the hijacking of a primary that belongs to local voters and local activists.
I didn't mean that I have a blanket opposition to the judicious use of outside volunteers, strategists, ad buys in elections of all kinds. I recognize that as entirely necessary in the general elections (i.e., I'd still rather see as much of an emphasis as possible on local activisim, but I know how realistically important it is to put national muscle behind local candidates). Yet in primaries, where it's about building up one Dem faction or tearing down another, rather than than building up local progressive capabilities and infrastructure in general, I don't believe it's necessary or important enough to be worth the cost of another up-tick in the national political arms race. The fact that we must nationalize general elections to some extent doesn't mean that we must extend that strategy to primaries.
I agree with most of your reasoning, but not the conclusion. I do think it's a mistake for the DCCC to pour money into Duckworth's campaign. But I don't think the progressive blogosphere should organize to support Cegalis in the primary. These are preliminary thoughts, and I'm open to reconsidering.
I'm particularly responding to point #3 - taking the base for granted. This point is important because it's the most clear-cut reason to actually intervene (e.g., it's not less of a waste of DCCC money if we're spending too).
I fear that your argument leads toward a scenario where we start picking districts within which to do battle by proxy with the DCCC leadership. What you propose is dangerously close to making candidates like Cegalis little more than pawns in a larger game. First of all, I frankly don't think this is fair to Cegalis, as much as it may be intended to benefit her. Second, I don't think it's fair to the voters in the district. Third, I think it's a terrible waste of limited resources.
Let me briefly elaborate on each point.
Cegalis needs to be able to define herself in term of local interests, not netroots interests. Yes, of course I recognize that limited funding is a major roadblock to doing that. But what you propose - effectively, making an example out of this primary - will redefine her as the candidate of the blogosphere. If she comes forward and clearly asks for this kind of a full-throttle campaign by the netroots, then I'll put aside my objection. But she has to be able to consider whether she wants to be our national poster child.
I guess I'm old-fashioned, but I also believe that except in extreme cases, primaries are best left to people in the local districts. Just as I hear the beginnings of "war by proxy" in what you wrote in point #3, I would ask: do the people of the district become alienated in the process? What, exactly, is involved in providing support in any possible way? If it's just fundraising, then fair enough (but see my next point), and again my concerns are mitigated. But "any way possible" - to me - suggests volunteers in the district, possibly advertisements, etc; I worry very much about contributing toward the hijacking of a primary that belongs to local voters and local activists. It doesn't change my view that the DCCC may already be doing hijacking of their own; from my perspective, a war by proxy in the district adds to the alienation that the DCCC's actions may bring, rather than diminishing it.
This is probably my biggest concern - waste of resources. There is not an unlimited source of funding in the netroots. Donor fatigue will eventually set in. I personally know a bunch of small-scale progressive donors who, like myself, are tapped out from the combination of 2004 and scattered fundraising drives this year. For my own part, I'm willing to start donating again in the 2006 general election season. But my ability to do so would be seriously hampered by significant investments in primaries. Not everyone is in this position of donor fatigue, and it's not a strict zero-sum game; success can breed more success. Nonetheless, in the end, dollars are limited. I'm truly uncomfortable with the notion that fighting the DCCC is the best use for my resources, or our collective resources. I want my dollars to go to fighting Republians. I won't give them to candidates, even in the general election, who don't share my values - let the Dem establishment get the message that way. But if I don't like the final candidate in a district, there are many, many others who need the money. I'd rather send money to support Tester in a Montana general election than a Leiberman primary challenger. I'd rather send money to support Nick Lampson against DeLay, than Cegalis against Duckworth. That's even though from what I see, I like Cegalis. The DCCC (and DSCC) are just not the enemy, nor is Tammy Duckworth.
As I say, I'm still open to being convinced otherwise, although it would take a lot of convincing. I think it would be tragic if the netroots started acting like just another special interest group. Without insult intended, point #3 in particular sounds like the response of an interest group, not a broad, inclusive progressive movement. The value of what you, Jerome, Kos and many other de facto leaders in the blogosphere have helped create - a new form of grassroots activism - is gradually sinking in. Impatiently going to battle against the establishment because they're not "getting it" quickly enough is, in my opinion, not the way to win.
You don't have any recent comments that are hidden. So unless you've pissed off a side adm. lately, I think you're seeing double because the nitwit posted the same thing twice. Meanwhile, with apologies to the other zero-rater, I'm bumping up riverred's comment again so his level of maturity is fully on view. (Note to riverred: I still think your comment deserves the zero I originally dispensed.)
What pisses me off the most, by the way, is this person's brief comment history suggests s/he is a local Duckworth partisan. That's fine, they're welcome to their opinion; unlike much of the MyDD community, I don't personally have a horse in this race - my rule of thumb is to let the locals resolve the primaries, and start getting excited in the general.
But these kind of threats are not fine, ineffectual as they are likely to be; they are an attempt to debase politics and abuse the blogosphere.
I've come to believe that it needs to be commented on at every available opportunity. I still hold to my opinion that there's no crisis at this time regarding the media myth of "McCain the moderate." But since I wrote that, I have to admit that further conversations with progressives have convinced me that we have a greater distance to go than I hoped in making the point that this guy is pretty hard right.
Fortunately, his record will help make the case for us.
I'd be surprised if there was much progress; it sounds like Akaka is moving against quite a headwind. I would have expected considerable controversy even within the Native Hawaiian community about whether tribe-like status is a good thing. You could make a strong argument that the tribal recognition system has been a disaster, disempowering Native Americans at least as much as it has empowered them, if not more.
And then there's the usual Federal reluctance to recognize any further tribal groups - although it's not clear to me from a quick skim of this bill just how much similarity there is to the tribal recognition process (would the Native Hawaiian government be a separate sovereign? Are new trustee relationships created?)
In any case, thanks for the info. I was perplexed; now I understand what happened with those two votes.
Agreed. Even Chafee is vulnerable to pressure, and ultimately unreliable. I suspect there is an element of a shell game. I imagine a sort of unofficial agreement: OK, you solid-blue-state Republicans, we won't punish you for voting against your party, so long as you come through for us most of the time, when we really really want you to (e.g., Patriot Act filibuster, not supported by a single "moderate.")
And the truth is, if you look at the individual record of any one of them, there's no Zell Miller in the bunch - no one who consistently, emphatically defies the leadership.
The moderates don't dare pull a Zell Miller on the Republican party. Look how they dragged Specter through the coals; and he's always been a tow-the-line kind of fellow when it comes down to the really important votes.
I actually like Lincoln Chafee. I almost wish we were in a political environment where we could lay off on Republicans who seem like they have a conscience. I'd take him into the Democratic party with open arms. But with the kind of leadership and policies Chafee is facilitating, he's got to go down.
By the way, Landrieu has my sympathies, and I don't hold this vote against her. It would have been impossible for a Louisiana senator to vote in such a way as to potentially delay storm recovery aid, which was also tucked away into this bill.
That's what's so diabolical about Stevens' approach; he didn't just hold military spending hostage, he also held Katrina relief hostage.