Wednesday, May 10, 2006

It's Not the Moderates, It's the Enablers, Dammit.

Glenn Greenwald lays into Richard Cohen nicely today, helping shred Cohen's recent post regurgitating the conventional wisdom about how all us liberal ideological purists are destroying our own party by refusing to tolerate moderates etc. etc. Here's my contribution to that discussion (also left as a comment on Unclaimed Territory):

Another thing that angers ME on this topic is the use (intentional by conservatives, well-intentioned but equally incorrect by liberals) of the term "centrist" or "moderate" to describe the reason behind progressives' discontent with people like Lieberman, Cuellar, Emanuel, Bob Casey, and Hillary Clinton, and faux-centrist organizations like the DLC and the DCCC.

Most of us who vigorously oppose those people's ascendancy isn't based on their specific policies so much as on their accommodationism. For example, Hillary almost always votes with the party, and is strong on the environment, health care, etc. -- but she attended Fox News' anniversary party, and will be feted at a fundraiser thrown by Rupert Murdoch in July; she's asking her donors not to contribute to any other potential Presidential candidates, using Soros' money to create but monopolize a voter-info database that should be available to all Democrats through the DNC, and manipulating backroom politics to rig primaries in favor of her preferred candidates (like Bob Casey, Sherrod Brown, and Tami Duckworth, effectively shutting Democratic voters out of the process. She's plenty progressive on the Senate floor, but she's still one of the bad guys. Similarly, Lieberman isn't bad because he sometimes votes more conservatively than I'd like; he's a bad guy because he goes out of his way to provide Bush with bipartisan cover. Obama is a wonderful candidate, but he's strongly [see comments to post below; I try to be fair] backing Lieberman's reelection, and like Hillary is involved in rigging the primaries.

On the primary-rigging issue, an email I got a while back from Pennacchio's campaign in Pennsylvania, which Hillary and Obama are undercutting, puts it perfectly:

Mrs. Clinton is a creature of the common wisdom of her Party, which is defined by centrism, triangulation, and, in our view, capitulation. Mr. Casey is the poster boy for all of these tactics, especially when you've moved the notion of the center a hundred yards to the right. Mrs. Clinton gave money for the same reasons any Democrat has given money to Bob Casey: he's the Party's choice to run against Rick Santorum and Rick Santorum must be defeated. We see a flaw in that logic, most notably in the fact that the Party as embodied by its voting citizens has not yet spoken on this matter. To presume their choice, to dictate it, is the sort of hubris we see chipping away at the Republicans right now.

Given the choice between a strong team player who understands that Bush really IS the enemy but who on policy is a moderate, or a manipulating, scheming, self-loyal rather than party-loyal triangulationist who usually votes liberally but leaves the reservation precisely when unity is needed (as on the Alito nomination) -- damn it, I'll take the moderate-voting good Democrat over the liberal-voting Republican enabler every time.

So to say we oppose "centrist" or "moderates" is too simplistic. We oppose Vichys and cowards. It's not about purity, but about guts: like real French patriots in WWII, we'd rather eat sauerbraten and drink Liebfraumilch with German-accented but vigorous resistance fighters than eat brie and drink Bordeaux with perfectly-credentialled Parisian collaborationists. Not only is it more pleasant, but it's actually a hell of a lot more likely to succeed than "centrism" (really "triangulationism") is (the DLC strategy has NEVER won 51% of a Presidential vote, lost us the Congress in '94, and has been unable to win it back).

But few people understand the distinction, and when we go after the Vichy, they accuse us of going after the French.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your right on about the 'centrist' issue. the right wing has been pushing the establishment Democrats to the right since 1970 and the center is now so far to the right that Hillary Clinton can be demonized as "liberal". Actually, using 'liberal' as a perjurative is another part of this same assault on the liberal/left/progressive community in America.

There are two faces to the Democratic Party. One is the fantasy of a liberal Democratic Party based on a few short years in the 1960-70's when some Democrats actually respected civil liberties, social justice and human rights. The other, the real face of the Democrats, is what used to be the Wallace wing and is now the Blue Dog right wing of the Party. The dominant voice of the Democrats. The real face.

The Wallace wing, southern red necks smarting from the anti-Jim Crow pro-youth empowerment effects of the Voter Rights Act and the 26st Amendment, hated the anti war pro-civil rights Democrats. They got together with Nixon to subvert and neutralize those landmark laws. They achieved that with the 1970 implimentation of the drug war.

The drug war attacked civil liberties, social justice human rights proponents as anti war and soft on crime. The drug war created the pretext to resume Jim Crow through mass criminal disenfranchisement that today effects millions more people than made the difference in the 2004 election. At the same time the drug war gave people like the Clinton's and John Kerry a way to rehabilitate their left leaning anti war past with tough on crime mass incarceration that pumped up their political resumes with the right. SEE: Conned:How Millions of Americans Went to Prison, Lost the Vote, and Helped Send George W. Bush to the White House" by Sasha Abramsky. Also: Pennsylvania -democracy incarcerated- "The idea of counting inmates as voters in the counties that imprison them is particularly repulsive given that inmates are nearly always stripped of the right to vote. The practice recalls the early United States under slavery, when slaves were barred from voting but counted as three-fifths of a person for purposes of apportioning representation in Congress." The New York Times Dec. 2004.

It is so screwed up today that Hillary can take money from Uber Reich winger Rupert Murdoch and funnel it to Bob "I'm a pro-life Democrat" Casey. The liberals here in PA are so beaten down that Casey taking money from Hillary, who is taking money from Murdoch, is not an issue in the last week of the primary. $$Rupert Murdoch$ Hillary Clinton$ Bob Casey$$$$