The biggest thing that is broken in Washington is the Senate fillibuster. If the Senate operated like every other legislative body in the country, a simple majority (51 votes not 60) would have been enough to pass literally dozens of more bills in the first two years of Obama's administration. If that had happened maybe DC wouldn't look so disfunctional and we wouldn't be having this conversation.
That doesn't mean financial reform and election reform are not important, it's just to say that the Senate can function more responsibly even if those reforms do not take place. If Obama wants to "change the way Washington works," that's where he should start.
I still find it hard to believe that Dean was not the 2004 nominee... What a different race it would have been even if did still lose in the end. He would have exposed all the GOP malfeasance to the world and really set the stage for a strong progressive future (the Dems very own Goldwater moment). Why can't our current candidates come out and say things this clearly and forcefully?
"Just because we don't have a proportional democracy, does not mean we don't govern by coalition."
I think LandStander is correct. Coming from someone living in Massachusetts where 90% of our state legislature is a member of the Democratic party, it is very clearly a coalition of different smaller parties. In theory this is good and bad: the two party system helps to dilute the "crazies" in our society by couching them in broad and moderate coalitions; however, see the GOP 1994 - present, there is always the chance that the crazies will take over the coalition and use the legitimacy of the party as cover to further their radical agenda.
And if Mass. was run by a majority of "real" liberal Democrats (as the stereotype of this state goes), don't you think that we'd be the first state to have some form of universal health care already?
I'd love to see them try proportional representation in Mass or any state, especially in states with current one party rule just to see how they would splinter. The wolves clothing would come off in a lot of places I think, but at least we'd have parties who have agendas/platforms that they are serious about trying to accomplish or implement.
Matt, I wanted to email this to you but I couldn't figure out from the website how to contact you directly. It's for an event on Monday in Cmbrdg, MA and I wasn't sure how appropriate it is to "advertise" for an event like this in the comments. Anyway, I wanted to let you and anyone interested to know that there is an event on Monday about the Internet and the labor movement that I thought you might be interested in (full disclosure: I work at the Program on Networked Governance and I helped to organize this event).
"Using the Internet to Create a New Labor Movement: U.S., U.K., and Harvard experiences"
Richard B. Freeman, Harvard University
Swiss Consulate, 420 Broadway, Cambridge, MA, 12:00 - 1:30 p.m. (RSVP email@example.com)
I don't ever post announcements like this but it is particularly relevant to many of the labor issues discussed on these pages.
I agree with the other comments. I think your historical narrative was great and really important.
Understanding the southern authoritarian thing together with the generational narrative that has been advanced on MyDD and elsewhere is really powerful. If Dems can keep moving west and southwest and continue to win without the south, combined with a new generation Y electorate we might finally start to see some serious changes in the states.
Also, I don't think the WOT has the same staying power as the cold war soviet union did. it's a very different type of ideological struggle and perhaps more cultural than ideological. I guess what i'm saying is that today's progressive left won't be able to be demonized in the same way as during the last fifty years, and how many Gen Y'ers even remember the cold war anyway!? Calling universal healthcare "communist" just isn't going to scare them in the same way as it did the babyboomers.
sorry I missed seeing you at the k-school, but the room was alas packed when I walked by...
I've got to agree with SoulTim on this one and some of the other comments. I think Matt has the right ideal in mind and that is certainly the tough Democratic party we should be aiming to have, but we're just not there yet. A forced longer session might just crack the Dems too.
Put it this way too, if the Repug Senators go back and acutally listen to their constituents and everyone at home is like "hey Senator [blank], get us out of this war" then maybe (just maybe) the next time there's a vote to stop the war we'll have a few more of them on our side and we can really make some progress toward a new middle east strategy.
And as for the Dems getting blamed for not stopping the war, i think Matt has it backwards, or at least that should be the narrative every Dem worth his/her grain of salt should be pushing. It's Bush's fault and the obstructionist Repuglicans that made sure the war would go on. Just keep sayin it again and again and again.
I forgot to mention my bigger intended point in my earlier post (got sidetracked, it happens) that keeping the Dems feat to the fire on issues important to progressives is the way forward for activists/bloggers now that the Dems have congress. Let's make sure they keep their promises, grow a backbone, and stand up for what they say they believe. If not, we should remind them that primaries happen every two years and there is always a replacement...
Chris, I think that in this post you answered your own earlier question about if and how we (the progressive movement/netroots) will go forward from here (see: "maintaining our resolve to fight"). In fact, this generation of Dems' unwillingness to address the question of Iraq, and lets face it most foreign policy issues, also dovetails perfectly with earlier MyDD discussions about the 1960's liberal legacy.
They are so scared of the conservative narrative regarding Vietnam that they are unwilling to stand up for what they know must now be done in Iraq lest they be labeled as peacenik/hippy/appeasers. One of the few examples of a current Dem trying to reframe the foreign policy/national security debate is Russ Feingold, who repeatedly states that we must leave Iraq so we can refocus on terrorism, thereby decoupling Iraq and the war on terror (something all Dems should be doing).
So Chris, maybe you could ask one of our newly elected reps something along these lines. Something about national security, foreign policy and Iraq. Are they going to make a big deal about these things and try to wrest these issues away from the GOP OR do they intend to once again cede this ground without a fight and return to "safe" domestic issues only.