Thursday, May 11, 2006

Where Did My Tent Go?

I’m all for Party unity, but as I’ve said before, unity requires compromise from both sides. As I see it, the Democratic Party has moved too far to the right that has resulted in a blurring of the lines and contributed to the idea that there isn’t much difference between the two Parties. We, of course, have learned over the last five years that there are very real differences, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the center has been artificially moved to the right. With Democrats poised to make some serious gains in November, it is more important that ever that we work together to make that happen, but it is also critical that we force the center back to the center again.

Targeting Democratic Senators and Representatives that have conservative views that are out of step with the American people and way out of step with the Democratic Party, is a good thing. Sure, it’s better to have Joe Leiberman in the Senate than a moderate Republican, but targeting him in the Primary is exactly what needs to be done. If it’s possible to replace a DINO with a progressive, we should do that, but there’s another reason to vote for Primary challengers to less than satisfactory incumbents. It may very well pull those incumbents back to the center and give them the courage to speak the truth and cast votes out of conviction rather than fear.

The liberals on the left are not trying to divide the Party, we are trying to strengthen it. We are not going to shoot ourselves in the foot by voting for third party candidates that will result in Republican wins. Some will, but more and more of us are choosing to make our Party better rather than abandon it all together. We are taking the advice that our grandmothers gave us, “if you don’t like it, change it,” and the Primaries are the perfect place to do that.

Just because I would like to Leiberman’s seat go to a more progressive candidate (that would better represent Connecticut voters, by the way) doesn’t mean that I am any less committed to a Democratic majority in the Senate than those continuing to prop Senator Leiberman up. We all want the same thing. It’s just that many of us in the left wing of the Party happen to think that Leiberman will be a hindrance to any meaningful investigation into Bush administration misdeeds while his challenger, Ned Lamont, would be of great help. We are looking past the election and are greatly concerned about what will happen once it comes time to govern. So far, the Democrats in Congress have been unwilling to unite and be even a small speed bump on this President’s road to complete and unfettered power, and it is the DINOs, the triangulators and the fearful moderates who most often fail to act in “unity” with the rest of the Party, making them a problem that must be solved.

I believe a “big tent” is what the Democratic Party should be, and I do believe that there is room for all points of view. It’s okay to not agree on abortion, gun control and gay marriage, but there must be a cohesive underlying set of principles that guide our Party and make it easy for us to come to consensus on the other important issues. That is all we are looking for. Liberals haven’t moved, but the tent has and we’re tired of standing on the outside. And rather than join the Party in its current location, on the rocky slope to our right, we’re using our muscle to move the tent back to where it used to be, just a little to the left, in the nice green plain where we can put down roots and grow. It’s nicer over here, plus, it’s where most Americans are making their way. It would be a shame to erect a new tent when the one we have is big enough, just in the wrong place.


Anonymous geocrackr said...


You may have already seen that Digby and tristero over at Hullabaloo have been commenting on this diary over at Kos discussing how the radical right has dragged the center of political thought over to them, and the progressive/Dem conventional wisdom regarding that shift. If not, you should take a look.

In a related story, Suzie @ Suburban Guerilla was tipped off to this piece on how the John Birchers are suddenly finding they have common ground with us crazy liberals because they've figured out that BushCo is too extreme for them. Will wonders never cease?

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Dale Hippert said...


The Marine Corps ruined camping and tents for me, but I get it!

Still, it seem like a lot of maneuvering around when we're all having so much fun pissing into the tent!

Yeah, I know, male specific metaphor. But it works.

3:31 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

GeoCrackr--I did read Thomas Eddlem's piece yesterday on The Smirking Chimp, I had the same reaction. I had not seen that Digby was discussing this issue as well, but I did check it out. I think what thereisnospoon wrote at Kos is short sighted and won't work for the left. Besides, we don't need tactics as dramatic and purposefully deceiving as Trevino laid out because much of what the left pushes for are appealing to the majority of the country already, which is exactly why it makes me so crazy that the Democrats won't talk about them!

I'm all for think tanks on the left, we should give our best and brightest a myriad of places to go to work out the best policy initiatives and yes it is important to properly frame the issues and the debate, but it is much easier to do that when you know what the goals are. By losing sight of what matters and ignoring core principles, the Democrats have marginalized themselves.

Dale--I love that imagery, but I envision a bunch of irritated and surly liberals pissing into a much bigger tent, say a circus tent full of clowns.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous exelizabeth said...

Currently I am much more focused on WA (state) politics than national politics, so I actually see this issue differently. I am troubled by what I am seeing from the hard core anti-war lefties in Washington. They refuse to compromise, and while I admire principle, one of my guiding principles is pragmatism. It is not pragmatic to INSIST that, say, Maria Cantwell accept YOUR plan for the war and refuse to support her otherwise.

If the war is ALL someone cares about, fine. However, most people care about more than just one issue, and in the interest of those other issues, we must-- MUST-- accept less than our idea perfection from our leaders. We should demand principles-- integrity, honesty, clarity, vision. But to be so myopic as to refuse to support an otherwise highly qualified leader based on one issue is just shooting yourself in the foot-- or maybe the head, at this point.

I'm pretty darn left, but I recognize that there are many people in this country that are not and we have to find a way to get along without either side being totally miserable. So while I think pandering to the middle or the right isn't cool, we DO need those people to vote with us. I feel like there is a serious diconnect between party leadership and the left-wing of the party on this issue. The left won't give ground (fair enough-- we've given inches only to lose miles) and the party national party leadership is ignoring us. Of course, on a state leader, Dwight Pelz isn't really seeming to endear Dems to independents and moderates, and since I'm more concerned about this state, those actions worry me deeply.

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good points and all, Mollie, but, when it comes to Cantwell, there isn't another choice. Mark Wilson isn't a "for real" candidate. We can be excited to dump Lieberman because we have Ned Lamont.

I don't think we can elect progressives in every race, however. Like The 2nd Congressional District of Nebraska, the only seat in NE the Dems have a real shot at. Whoever we are able to elect won't be a McDermott-Kucinich type. Not even an Inslee. Probably a Rick Larson.

I get the idea though.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Betty Cracker said...

I agree completely with your point about challenging DINO incumbents to pull them back toward the center (if not to replace them with true progressives).

Perhaps one reason the party moved so far to the right was because some of us who are further to the left were intimidated into silence at primary time by "circular firing squad" rhetoric. Primary challenges -- were issues can be hashed out -- are totally healthy, IMO.

6:29 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Exelizabeth—I agree with you that we do need those in the middle to win elections and alienating them isn’t an option, but there is a difference between having a core set of values that we share as Democrats and having differing views on specific issues. I don't expect Maria Cantwell to be Jim McDermott, she represents the whole state and he just Seattle, but I do expect that there are certain guiding principles that we should be able to count on our Democratic leaders adhering to. We don’t start preemptive wars seems like a reasonable one. Cantwell and the rest of the Democrats that voted for the war can say that they were duped, but I will never believe that. Either they were too scared to vote against it, or they believed it was the right thing regardless of whether or not there were WMD and ties to Al Qeada. If she was too scared to voter her conscience, I think we should look for better representation and if she thought invading Iraq was a good idea, I think we should start looking extra hard.

I believe in pragmatism too, which is why I will vote for Mark Wilson in the Primary but will vote for Cantwell in the General. I don’t have to agree with everything she does or every vote she casts for me to think she’s a good Senator, but when I have no idea how she will vote on any given issue, big or small, that conveys the message that her votes are based solely on political calculus. I recognize that there is a place for that, but there are some votes that transcend politics and I don’t trust Cantwell to know the difference.

Will--I agree with you for the most part. Progressives won’t win in every district, but they should still show up and the only way that happens is if we support them. We have to get over the fear that liberal ideals are out of the mainstream because they’re not! But if we keep running from them, over time, they will be.

Betty--I couldn't agree more!

6:38 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

You're talking the rightward shift of the political landscape, which is legitimate, as far as it goes.

Seemingly left out is the corporate factor. To a disturbing and, some would say, detrimental degree, a whole lot of Democrat officeholders and seekers have made themselves almost as sold out to corporate interests as Republicans. More of a difference of degree than of kind of politicians.

DLC types seem absurdly at home with this trend, which isn't to their credit.

No need to single out Joe Leiberman alone. Try getting through to Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell that wide-open, free trade and globalization, as currently practiced, is hurting our middle- and working-class people, exacerbating concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few and the race to the bottom for the rest.

Murray and Cantwell see the free trade/globalization/race to the bottom phenomenon as profitable for Washington state. They don't want to hear about detrimental consequences for the country as a whole. To the extent they will acknowledge those consequences, they tend to respond with platitudes and reassurances about how we have to make trading fair that sound as though they were written for George W. Bush.

This attitude makes as much sense as a doctor telling someone with a failing heart not to worry because the other 98 percent of their body is perfectly OK.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Chad Shue said...

One of the things that I often have to explain to people (for the life of me, I don't know why) is that while the Iraq War Resolution is HUGE to those who are at odds with Maria Cantwell, it is not the only issue. There are the issues of her two votes for the Patriot Act (The only Washington Democrat to do so) and, more recently, her co-sponsoring of S-333 with Rick Santorum (which is the camel's nose in the tent to first strike against Iran).
Obviously, as a Democrat, I am just as passionate about all the traditional Democratic issues; Environment, Energy, Choice, Worker's Rights and the rest. I believe Mark Wilson cares about those things to.
So you see, I believe I can vote for someone who represents me on all the issues I get with Cantwell as well as the ones where she has forsaken me. Is that bad?


Chad (The Left) Shue

9:38 PM  
Anonymous exelizabeth said...

LG, you're really voting for Mark Wilson? Everything I've read about him makes him sounds like a candidate of convenience. I understand voting for someone you really believe in even if they don't have a chance to win (Ron Sims for governor!), but do you really believe in Mark Wilson? I don't mean this in a snide way, I'm really curious. Everything I've read about him sounds like he not only lacks a core set of principles (is he a liberatarian? A Green? A Dem?), he also lacks integrity.

Even though I will be working for Maria Cantwell, I do want to hear much stronger stances about the war. IE I want to here: Whatever my past war votes, we will NEVER have a premeptive nuclear strike as long as I have fight left in me. Whatever she voted in the past, I want to know it won't happen again. I'll have to look into this bill she worked on with Santorum if it really lays the groundwork for a nuclear strike.

SWA: I'm very curious about what you say, because I hear it from a lot of Dems and progressives. However, I have heard much more convincing arguments FOR free trade than against it. Can you direct me toward convincing arguments against free trade and for... what, protectionism? What's the opposite or solution to free trade/gloablization? I don't really understand the anti-free trade arguments because, well, I've never heard them cohesively made. But I want to understand them, so maybe you can help me out.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

exelizabeth, it's not about protectionism at all. We need trade and we're going to have trade, as we should.

It's about making trade really fair and mutually beneficial. It's about operating the economy, domestically and internationally, for the benefit of people generally — not operating people for the benefit of big, powerful economic interests.

It all starts with this simple remedy, which the U.S. government could and should announce to all trading partners:

Within 24 months, your country will become as open to U.S. goods and services as the U.S. market is open to your goods and services, or else shortly thereafter the U.S. market will become as restrictive as your markets are.

Here are some links that spell out the unfairness in our current trade regime and how it can be made fairer. I hope you'll find them interesting and useful.

Selling out America’s future faster than ever

So, what’s bad for most is good for the economy?

China applies tissue-thin cover to yuan problem

Democrats should make revamping trade Job 1

"The increasing economic divide among Americans"

Exporting America : Why Corporate Greed Is Shipping American Jobs Overseas

Finally, you can find plenty, updated weekly at American Economic Alert

6:06 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Exelizabeth--Yes, I really am going to vote for Mark Wilson. When I met with him, he had all the right answers on trade policy, the war, healthcare, jobs and the environment and I'm chosing to take him at his word. I have heard the same things that you have, "he's not a serious candidate", "he's an opportunist and a vanity candidate", but I didn't get that impression when I met him, and he has explained his previous runs for office as a libertarian and a green to my satisfaction. His core values haven't changed, just his strategy. Cantwell has shown me that she's not a consistent vote for the things I believe in, Mark Wilson says he will be and I believe him.

Here is a recent reply he made to the criticism of running under other banners in the past.

SW Anderson--I agree with you about my Senators, especially on trade policy, which is why I'm supporting the Primary challenger, Mark Wilson, in his bid to unseat Maria Cantwell.

Thank you for the information and links about globalization you provided at exelizabeth's request. I already agree with you on this issue, but will check out the links as well. The only thing that I would add is that it is critical to our security (economically and from terrorist attacks) to radically change our trade policies.

NAFTA has resulted in widespread anti-Americanism and CAFTA will result in the same. This is a very dangerous thing in this modern world where it only takes a few angry people to cause mass destruction. If we ever hope to be secure in this country, we have to do the hard work of lifting the rest of the world up and stop allowing our corporations to steal natural resources and abuse workers around the world. All they are managing to do is drive the standard of living down for workers and enrich themselves, all with the help of so-called free-trade agreements supported by both Republicans and Democrats.

6:46 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

LG, those are excellent points about national security. But it goes beyond even what you mention.

A great deal of discretion should be exercised as to what we do and who we do it with. For example, when Chinese factories are set up and workers trained and organized to produce world-class laptops for IBM, how long is it before they're producing amazingly similar laptops under a purely Chinese label?

The more Boeing contracts with Chinese factories for parts and subassemblies at low-low prices, the more Boeing hastens the day when world-class all-Chinese-made jet airliners go on the international market at unbeatable low prices.

Beyond that, making the U.S. dependent on foreign producers for a million products makes us incredibly vulnerable in time of war.

As anyone who's studied the genesis and history of the two world wars will attest, the Allies won not because of the vastly superior bravery and fighting ability of their troops. In both cases, the Allies, principally the U.S., vastly outproduced the central powers and then the axis powers. Mining, milling, machining, manufacturing, packaging and shipping everything from mini sewing kits to aircraft carriers — that's what made victories not only possible but virtually inevitable. And yes, it's dangerous, too.

Now, as we offshore and outsource everything but our corporate trustees, CEOs,top-level bean counters and their minor children, we make ourselves utterly dependent on foreign suppliers. Not only are we not set up to produce goods of all kinds, our people lose the skills and experience of producing all sorts of goods. That last part's a real killer.

For the past quarter century, we've been tossing off our manufacturing capability like an old, worn out sweater. This gives new meaning to the word "stupid."

9:20 PM  
Blogger The Local Crank said...

Hmmm. I'm not sure what good a big tent is if you are kicking people out the front flap. Besides his support for the Iraq War, what specifically do you have against Joe Lieberman (other than the fact that he is boredom personified)? As I understand it, his ratings from various and sundry progressive groups (again, other than on the war issue) are comparable or superior to other Democratic Senators. If the only thing you have against him is his support for the war, how is that different from Republican anti-abortion primary voters?

10:49 PM  
Anonymous exelizabeth said...

LG: That is excellent to know about Mark Wilson. While I still won't be supporting him, I'm glad to hear your perception of him. I have to say I mostly hear about him from Goldy, who is not a fan, to say the least.

SWA: Thanks very much for those links, I will look them over as soon I get a chance. This is not an issue I fully understand and so I appreciate material to help me get a fuller grasp of it.

12:08 PM  
Anonymous exelizabeth said...

LG-- I have to apologize; I was mixing up Aaron Dixon with Mark Wilson! You can ignore my comments about Wilson, because I was thinking of Dixon. I feel like an idiot.

9:30 AM  

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