Progressive Revolution to Purify Democratic Party
Matt Stoler is leading the charge for the Netroots to root out the “Bush Dogs” from the Democratic Party, purging it of the impure traitors who do not buy into every jot and tittle of the Progressive Agenda.
We’ve been working to identify the group of conservative Democrats in the House who are holding back progressives from being able to effectively govern. These are concentrated in two main caucuses, the Blue Dog Caucus and the New Democrat caucuses. Blue Dogs consider themselves heirs to the Southern conservative wing of the party, and tend to vote for socially restrictive policies and a hawkish foreign policy. The New Democrats tend to be more partisan, but often are key to passing important pieces of right-wing legislation, such as the Bankruptcy Bill. In the last few years, these two caucuses have expanded their numbers, and the Blue Dogs have become the swing vote in the House allowing for effective conservative control of the Congress. We want to put a stop to the embrace of conservative values among House Democrats, and make sure that when Democrats are elected, they act like Democrats.
The first step in stopping this behavior is to identify the people engaging in it and offer up criticism. There are a few reasons for this. One, many of these members feel no pressure to vote correctly or uphold progressive values. Criticism is the signal they are relying on to let them know when they err. Two, some of these members may need to face a primary challenge, and it’s useful for potential primary challengers to know that there is criticism of these members. Three, other members considering joining the Bush Dog caucus may be dissuaded if they know there will be criticism. Four, candidates running for office will finally have a signal on how they should talk about being good Democrats that are willing to take tough votes.
He has identified 38 House Democrats who must conform to the Netroots Agenda . . . or else: Jason Altmire, PA-04; Brian Baird, WA-03 (he didn’t vote for FISA, but he just switched his position and now supports the surge); John Barrow, GA-12; Melissa Bean, IL-08; Dan Boren, OK-02; Leonard Boswell, IA-03; Alan Boyd, FL-02; Chris Carney, PA-10; Ben Chandler, KY-06; Jim Cooper, TN-05; Jim Costa, CA-20; Bud Cramer, AL-05; Henry Cuellar, TX-28; Lamar Davis, TN-04; Joe Donnelly, IN-02; Chet Edwards, TX-17; Brad Ellsworth, IN-08; Bob Etheridge, NC-02; Bart Gordon, TN-06; Stephanie Herseth, SD-AL; Baron Hill, IN-09; Nick Lampson, TX-22; Dan Lipinski, IL-03; Jim Marshall, GA-08; Jim Matheson, UT-02; Mike McIntyre, NC-07; Charlie Melancon, LA-03; Colin Peterson, MN-07; Earl Pomeroy, ND-AL
Ciro Rodriguez, TX-23; Mike Ross, AR-04; John Salazar, CO-03; Heath Shuler, NC-11; Vic Snyder, AR-02
Zack Space, OH-18; John Tanner, TN-08; Gene Taylor, MS-04; Tim Walz, MN-01; and Charlie Wilson, OH-06.
Glenn Greenwald, and MyDD have joined this fine movement. I’m sure, before long, the list of Traitors to the Cause will expand well beyond this original 38. [Glenn Greenwald, writing before Stoler’s post, agrees with the idea that the Democrats’ problem is that they are not cleaving closely enough to the Progressive line.]
This “scares the hell” out of some moderate[s]
-left folks like Michael van der Galien, who worry about chilling effects on free speech and free thought.
And some on the Right are giddy about this idea, too. For example, Michael Goldfarb is crowing at the Weekly Standard about how the Netroots are “doing the work of the NRCC” (National Republican Congressional Committee) for them.
While the numbers are constantly in flux because of deaths, retirements, prison sentences and whatnot, the Democrats won 233 seats last November, to 202 for the Republicans. That means the Republicans need to hold all their current seats plus gain 16 of the Democratic seats to retake the majority next year. That’s an uphill fight, given the party’s current popularity, but not inconceivable.
It would sure help, though, if the 38 most moderate Members were replaced by True Blue, Netroots Approved Progressives. What better way to stem to tide than have Al Franken-style liberals running in places like Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, Utah, North Carolina, Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana?
So, sure, Republicans love this idea. But getting distracted by that sort of thing is short-sighted thinking.
Look, what’s the point of winning a majority if your party’s most ideological members aren’t one hundred percent happy, one hundred percent of the time? It’s far better to lose the majority by insisting on ideological purity and then building from there with Pure Progressives. It’s worked nicely for the Libertarians, why not the Democrats?
So, march on brave Netroots soldiers. March on in your quest for the Holy Grail.
UPDATE: Errors in classifying Michael van der Galien’s ideology and Glenn Greenwald’s position on this issue corrected above, with originals struck out and modifications in brackets.