IL-06: Who is a Fighting Dem and why?
by blogswarm, Sat Mar 11, 2006 at 11:50:17 AM EST
In my mind, one of the most inspiring times to read blogs was during the fallout from our losses in 2004. For me, this was a special time because we were able to focus on what we wanted from our Democratic Party. Markos started the "Reform Democrat" meme, which helped shape the debate in the race for DNC Chair.
I don't care if you're liberal or progressive, and vote for everything I support...if you can't get out there, stick your neck out and pitch in to our common fight, then, sad to say, we don't need you.
What does this mean in pragmatic terms? Well, for one, it means that in 2005 we are going to have to come up with a set of judgements about how our candidates are doing....and be prepared to run primary challenges in 2006 against those who are simply "phoning it in."
Phone-it-in Democrats no longer cut it, and need to be told so...and that is the dominant message the activist wing of the party needs to send. (not ideological purity...not litmus test issues...not "we can help you with the internet"...fight in spirit and in deeds is our demand.) [emphasis from the Oakland Kid]
Back then, being a Fighting Democrat had nothing to do with military service. In fact, Kid Oakland wrote:
And, I think, we need to be the party that incorporates some form of "national service" into the educational program of the United States, whether voluntary or not....we Democrats need to win back the mantle of patriotism with a proposal for national service that works...bringing equity to military service and broadening, once and for all, the concept of "service to country" beyond the act of taking up a gun to defend it.
The idea was a solution to the phone it in, DLC cowards who had lost us the last election. Then along came Paul Hackett.
Hackett had served in the Marines and volunteered to do so again when we went to war in Iraq, even though he was opposed to the war. He came home and served again, as a candidate for congress. Hackett campaigned as a Kid Oakland style Fighting Democrat, inspired people across the country, and gave Democrats a glimpse of the potential of fighting each and every day in every district no matter how red...instead of just phoning it in.
Then Mother Jones ran the cover story, "The Democrat who fought. Some people focused on the fact that Hackett had served in Iraq as the key to his success, conveniently ignoring the fact that he was a Fighting Democrat for the way he campaigned, not just for his time in the service. Hackett was a Kid Oakland style "Fighting Democrat" who had also been to Iraq, so it was like, "He's a fighting Dem, literally, ha ha."
True to the original Kid Oakland concept of "service to county" going beyond the act of taking up arms, Hackett posted a diary A Call to Service where Hackett asks people to join him in service to country that doesn't involve fighting in the military, but fighting for our democracy at home.
Since then, the notion of Fighting Democrats has been used as an excuse to support Ladda Duckworth, who has honorably fought, but has yet to show any signs that she is a Fighting Democrat.
If anything, her campaign has represented the worst of the "phoning it in" problem that Kid Oakland spoke of when he coined the term. She has tried to buy the election with piles of glossy mail and excessive TV ads, paid for by out of state money that wants her to win in spite of the Fighting Democrats in IL-06 who have been fighting and organizing to beat Roskam.
If Duckworth wins the primary, it will be at the expense of the grassroots. Hackett received nationwide support because of his local support while Duckworth receives support from other phone it in Democrats despite her lack of local support.
The entire process of this primary has disgusted me. The DC Democrats have fought against Cegelis from the start, Duckworth is just the latest of the candidates they have recruited to run against her. If the DC Democrats win this primary, it might very well be a Phyrric victory much like Ohio. In that primary, Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel were successfully in conspiring to force Hackett out of the race, yet now Sherrod Brown is down by 16 points and the race isn't even competitive, with Mike DeWine over 50%.
When the grassroots started talking about Fighting Democrats, what we had in mind was for our leaders in DC to fight against Republicans, not against the base. Yet as we painfully learned in Ohio and as we are seeing in Illinois, this was not to be.
As the DC Democrats phone it in against Cegelis, remember what 'Fighting Democrat' once stood for. They can raise more money, they can deploy a campaign in a box, but they have yet to prove that this will succeed in winning seats during a post-broadcast environment when people can use the new progressive communication infrastructure to call bullshit.
In Illinois, Fighting Democrats are calling bullshit, yet the DC Democrats will waste no expense in their attempt to force upon the base the notion that they know better. Count me with Christine Cegelis.