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March 20, 2006

Piling on What Goldy Said

David, aka Goldy, says "Progressives need to get real".  Right on.  I tried to write a response about 55 comments down and either my response was too long or my browser is interferring but anyway, it didn't work.  So I'll take some of his great post and then add to it.

David said:

Many of us inhabitants of the liberal blogosphere like to say that we are part of the “reality-based community,” the implication being that our counterparts on the right are not. And yet, the right’s growing dominance over the past couple decades suggests that at least when it comes to electoral politics it is they who are more grounded in reality than us.

Conservatives now hold the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and a majority of governorships and state houses. And while 2006 is shaping up to be a year of political sea change, it has more to do with Republican arrogance, incompetence and corruption than with well planned and executed Democratic strategy.

David talks about the "chatter from WA's angry left" and how our in-fighting about being ideologically pure, especially in relationship to Cantwell, is draining our spirits and damaging our effectiveness. 

I remember hearing people in the 90's say that there was no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans.  Nonsense.  That's how we got the last wave election in 1994 when the Republicans swept into Congress and swept out a bunch of Democrats and then started the K-Street Project.  The K-Street Project is what brought us to where we are today; it's that unholy triangle where Republicans require the lobbying companies to hire primarily right-wing young Republican types or retread "vetted" Congressional staffers.  These folks then get paid large amounts of money to write laws that benefit corporations and wealthy individuals and get Congress to pass those laws.  In gratitude, the corporations and wealthy individuals put massive amounts of money into the coffers of the Republicans who behave. 

It's a simple strategy, highly effective and, btw, it's destroying our democracy.

I said then and it's only more true now: the real differences between Republicans and Democrats are down a layer or so, under the radar.  For example, Republican Administrations don't fund international organizations that provide any money for family planning that includes contraceptives.  Democrats do.  Pulling that money away from the Planned Parenthood-type organizations wrecks havoc on population planning in poor countries.  The Republicans have gotten so brazen that we're starting to see more of what they do down a layer or two - or don't do, as Katrina showed.

We have the opportunity to ride a wave this fall.  Let's do it.  Let's figure out how to effectively get Democrats elected at every level.  Let's get behind Cantwell for the Senate and behind Burner and Wright and Goldmark for the House and behind every Democrat who is running for office at every level. 

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of hearing Gloria Steinem speak at Townhall.  The thing she said that most caught my attention was this:

Only 30% of the country is ultra right-wing – but, here is the thing – they turn out 90% of their membership.  Meanwhile the remaining 70% only turns out at about 50%.

We have to turn out our voters.  We don't do that when we aren't happy with our own candidates.  We don't do that unless we can be effective in building our Party, supporting our current candidates and then pulling in new progressive candidates to run at every level, except when it damages our existing electeds.  Then we have a dialogue about our variations and work together to figure out the range of things we will have to figure out once we get ourselves together and vote in Democrats in a landslide.

Posted by Lynn Allen on March 20, 2006 at 09:50 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink


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I think David's post is more heat than light, but I'm not 100% sure who it's aimed at.

If he's aiming at those are who support whoever the heck the quixotic Green Party challenger to Cantwell is, then he's right on. That's not reality-based.

But if he's taking me (or anyone else) to task for criticizing Cantwell's various horrendously mistaken votes on the war, the PATRIOT Act, the bankruptcy bill, etc., then he's out of line.

Criticizing our elected officials, even "friendlies" like Cantwell, is an essential part of the democractic process. Just because I criticize her doesn't mean that I think she isn't the best candidate in the race. But the fact that she's the best candidate in the race doesn't mean she's perfect or that I need to join some hallelujah chorus pretending that she is. Like any elected official, she needs to be held accountable by her friends for her mistakes.

I appreciate much of what Cantwell has done as a Senator, and have been bitterly disappointed by other things. I'm not going to hold back from speaking my mind about either. That's the point of this whole exercise. I don't really think David is suggesting otherwise, though.

Posted by: Jon Stahl | Mar 21, 2006 6:48:52 AM

Cantwell's self-contradictory behavior depresses turnout and hurts Democratic credibility.

There is nothing more "real" than that.

Posted by: dlaw | Mar 21, 2006 1:38:25 PM

Jon, I see you are one of the people under the delusion Cantwell voted for the bankruptcy bill. She did not. Might want to check your facts before you get angry.

Posted by: MountOlympus Hiker | Mar 21, 2006 2:21:58 PM

I second Jon's comment.

This bit- "We have to turn out our voters. We don't do that when we aren't happy with our own candidates. We don't do that unless we can be effective in building our Party, supporting our current candidates and then pulling in new progressive candidates to run at every level, except when it damages our existing electeds." It's the representive's place to generate enthusiasm by doing the things that generate that enthusiasm. Cantwell has done a little of that, in education and enviromental issues, but that bloody vote on cloture, her stand on the war, and her general friendlness to big business do nothing to get this guy excited about voting for her. I want to see some passion about what we stand for, and against what the right wing is doing to our country. In this era, I'm a yellow dog Democrat; but she's too damn close to a yellow dog for me to feel happy about November. We deserve better, but if no one stands against her she just has to do.

Posted by: Mark Centz | Mar 21, 2006 3:05:14 PM

MtOly Hiker-
In 2001, she voted for S-420. Link here- http://www.commondreams.org/headlines01/0316-03.htm
Most of the caucus joined her, including Murray and Reid. But that vote made me furious, and she hasn't done much to make me change my mind since. I consider myself a political moderate, but the last 5 years have made my attitude militant. Her election was the bright spot of the 2000 disaster, and it's damn shame it's turned out this way.

Posted by: mark Centz | Mar 21, 2006 3:15:12 PM

Having been in this debate for an extended time, I would say that objecting to a stance and voicing that objection to am elected official or in the media is not the issue. Hell Maria is just wrong in her failure to look back at the votes leading up to the war and not feeling compelled to say what an error it was to vote in support of authority for entering this war.
But there are a growing number or non-republicans who are so angary that they no longer see the forest for the trees or who have jumped into politics with preconceived notions about how our system of government works and are not taking the time to learn.
These people fail to see how electing McSafco will for instance will make things worse not better and they fail to understand the difference between dodging a divisive vote when the outcome will not be changed and being the deciding vote.
But imposing the liberal standards of safe Seattle districts on candidates who are running in a much more harsh demographic district (as exists state wide) is a plan for failure.
And this business of holding a candidate to such a high standard of perfection on democratic issues is nothing new. The liberal issues based interest groups have been doing this for years while the conservative groups are inclined to give their candidates more reign. The result has been that Democratic candidates have lost elections either as result of running too far left or as result of lacking the funding that a far left stance would generate.

Posted by: Particle Man | Mar 21, 2006 3:26:46 PM

Fine, Particle Man. McSafeco bad. Applause. Point won.

But's hear more about our 'liberal standards'. Are you for the war? Like the idea that we've spent $400B and counting on it? Like the burden it places on the families of the local reservists, along with their medical costs in the future? Like those tax cuts for the top 1%, do you? Trading the Death Tax (estate) for the Birth Tax (debt)? Think that the 4th amendment is too restrictive and that speaking against violations of it is too 'liberal'? Keeping Roe safe a problem? How do you feel about contraception rights? Just what positions that we're unhappy about are causing you grief? Let's hear something solid. Calling people names, even if it's something like 'Seattle liberals' (literally true in my case, but you've invested it with baggage), doesn't really move your point of view along.

The Democrtic party is the forest. Ms. Cantwell is a tree. We need a tree there, badly. We agree on that. But at the risk of sounding like Chauncy Gardener, lots of us would like a tree we can climb on, and enjoy the view.

Posted by: mark Centz | Mar 21, 2006 3:56:31 PM

Do not assume that since I used the mind set of a safe district democrat as a basis for the point that I was making that I am any less liberal. I am not. I demonstrated against the war, spent all and I mean all of my time on that project prior to the war, organized the largest peace march in Bellevue history and in Issaquah and attended countless others. And I am with you on all those other issues as well. Look, I expect we agree that these are desperate times. For me, this means I will suck it up and send Maria $200 bucks, my largest contribution of the year cuz she must win and it is our job here in Washington to hold that seat. Would I rather have a Jay Inslee in that seat? Hell why not as president as long as we are dreaming. But this is not our reality and the base needs to suck it up or 6 years from now our kids will be dying in Iran and the national debt will be 5 trillion larger.

Posted by: Particle Man | Mar 21, 2006 10:34:19 PM

Well, this is humbling. I must correct an error. After posting a similar note at Horse’s Ass, it was pointed that the 2001 bill was not signed into law. Here’s a handy link: http://www.amda.com/federalaffairs/factsheets/congress107/s220hr333.htm
So I stand corrected, MtOlyHiker. You are right and I was wrong. That she (and Murray, and Reid, and Daschle, and 32 other Democrats) could vote yea on such a disgraceful bill is still mind boggling; and that it failed to pass then only because it wasn’t bad enough to suit Delay and his mob does our side no credit.
So her vote in 2003 was a genuine change, and certainly deserving of praise. This one less big bad vote. One wishes she could make similar choices about the war, the Patriot Act, the Alito cloture motion, and -hey Maria, how about that censure motion?! There’s still time to learn and apply those lessons. Democrats look better when we stand up for ourselves and our positions. And, it will energize our base. Fear is a stick, hope is a carrot. Give us carrots, please. Sticks we have already in abundance.
And peace unto you, Particle Man; as your note struck home. We are on the same team, and I apologize for my previous tone. Your email address didn’t work in gmail for some reason. Greetings dlaw, your post at HA was to the point.

Posted by: mark Centz | Mar 22, 2006 1:48:25 AM

Centz, the confusion is certainly understandable. Her vote of "Yea" on S.420 undermines the political value of her "Nay" on S.256. The law passed and her claim on opposition to it is muddied, particularly in light of her vote on S.5.

The whole point is that this muddying of her principles does her no good. Running to the middle doesn't work if the opposition takes away the middle.

Then when she makes gratuitous suck-up comments to Dirk Kempthorne and alienates her base for nothing. It's just bad politics.

Goldy was wrong.

Posted by: dlaw | Mar 22, 2006 11:58:46 PM

Cantwell , doesn't need you or Goldy or me . She's got lots of dough from her out of state Corporate sponsors . She has become a shill for the Centrist Democrats and is for hire to the highest bidder . The war machine pays her wages , not us . It isn't just Mr. Bush's War , It is the war of every Senator including Maria Cantwell that shipped our young off to wipe 100,000 Iraqi's off of the map and they ain't done yet . Trillions for war , not one dime for peace , " Heck of a Job, Maria " .

Posted by: spitintheocean | Mar 26, 2006 11:57:28 AM

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