December 11, 2004

Firing and Hiring

MoveOn sends a farewell **** you to Terry McAuliffe and the weasely, mealy-mouthed, spine deficient "professional election losers" who've been running the national Democratic party strategy for too bloody long. They took the grassroots' money, cursed us for being too (insert stock Republican insult), and proceeded to squander every opportunity to make real gains or take a public stand.

So they get a response: Pack up your desks, grab your coats, and don't let the door hit you on the way out. As Pariser said, "Now it's our party: we bought it, we own it, and we're going to take it back."

It bugs me to write this, because Democrats as such get publicly kicked around all the time, and I hate to continue adding to that perception. But frankly, the party base showed up this year and we did our job. Many hardworking incumbents and new candidates who took their message to a broader audience fought like hell to hold the line at the polls. The party consulting class showed up to get their paychecks, and proceeded to lose an election against a group of people whose every utterance should have been an electoral gift to the opposition. Then the DLC hacks show up with the unmitigated gall to call the party on the carpet and continue to suggest that in order to win back the red states, we should in essence complete our transformation into the Republican party of three decades ago.

Question to Al From: How many Democrats do you think flirted with frostbite in Iowa and New Hampshire during the primary season, or canvassed their local neighborhoods for the first time, for the proud honor of signing up to be a Nixon Republican?

But Josh Marshall explained that "to advise Democrats you've got to be a Democrat, part of the Democratic party. And what that means is a certain threshold level of lack of contempt for people who, day in and day out, are the Democratic party." So in a sense, I don't necessarily see any of this as an attack on Democrats in general, and I hope it isn't taken as such.

Kos points us in the direction of the DNC meeting coverage, where these discussions over the future of the party are being undertaken in earnest. I hope the delegates know that their ultimate decision will determine whether the party really does fade into obscurity, or captures the enthusiasm of all the people we brought into the process this year and uses it to build for victories in the years to come.

Longtime readers won't be surprised that I hope they pick Howard Dean to chair the party. Even after his primary defeat, he worked tirelessly for John Kerry, the DCCC, numerous local candidates, and for the airing of a Democratic agenda. He even let Nader kick him around for over an hour in public for the opportunity to respectfully try to reach out to anyone who still cared what Nader had to say. He saw what needed doing, and he didn't need a title to do the job.

But at base, there's a more fundamental concern. I'd like the DNC members to make sure that whatever candidate they pick is proud to be a Democrat, to associate with Democrats, to oppose Republican policies by advancing our own ideas, and who isn't shamed to tears by the word liberal. Without regard to their own place on the ideological spectrum, they must be willing and able to capably defend the party in public against its attackers, and to build up the spirits of its members. Vitally, they should at minimum adhere to the 'yes, we give a damn' principle articulated in the book "Homegrown Democrat" by Garrison Keillor:

This is Democratic bedrock: we don't let peple lie in the ditch and drive past and pretend not to see them dying. ...

Find us a DNC Chair who can capably advocate and defend that vision of the party to the public like they mean it from tip to toe, and that person will have my support.

Posted by natasha at December 11, 2004 01:45 AM | US Politics | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

Josh Marshall is just a bit off when he says "what that means is a certain threshold level of lack of contempt for people who, day in and day out, are the Democratic party."

The problem is that Democratic Party is not owned and operated by people who LOVE the people who day and day out ARE the Democratic Party, and ARE the people who vote for Democratic candidates, and ARE the people who need and look to the Democratic Party (or somebody/anybody) to give a shit about their lives, to talk to them, listen to them and DO SOMETHING to change the way things are.

The Democratic Party has not lost touch with "Heartland Voters" or other media constructs that describe Republicans. The Democratic Party has lost touch with the Democratic People.

For some years now, the Democratic Party "leadership" has been dominated by people who repeatedly express their disdain for Democratic People (Al From, Joe Lieberman) or who behave as if they are ashamed to be associated with Democratic People (Most of the Democrats you see on TV, Bill & Hillary Clinton, Daschle).

Instead of wondering where the Democratic Party needs to go, the Democratic "leadership" should be looking in the mirror and asking themselves why a substantial percentage, approaching a majority, of Democratic People want to get rid of them.

Posted by: James E. Powell at December 11, 2004 09:05 AM

Well said! (And long live Garrison of my fave authors.) have a great site. This is my first visit. Would love to link to your site...and would appreciate a link back. Please let me know.

Posted by: Debi at December 11, 2004 01:54 PM

I wonder if we'll be fortunate enough to see the current leadership of MoveOn taken down and given a rude farwell. Now that would be gratifying.

Posted by: Michael at December 11, 2004 03:11 PM

That's rich...
Michael, you been smoking your spice cabinet lately?

MoveOn has been one of the most successful progressive grassroots org. in 40 years. They have shown that they can get out the vote and the money while still keeping true to the intrinsic values that define the 'real' Democratic party.

Don't like MoveOn? Fine. There's an organization tailor-made for you called the Republican Party.

To paraphrase Ms. Natasha: "Don't let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya!"

It's time to clean house. If you don't like the party, go. Leave it for those of us who want to win for a change.

Posted by: David Aquarius at December 12, 2004 01:22 AM

I don't believe I expressed having an issue with MoveOn. Voicing displeasure with its leadership, however, is something any of us has the right to do.

Do we become stronger by tolerating only the opinions that mirror and flatter our own? Or is there room to welcome--or at least accept without personal insult--opinions contrary to our own?

Perhaps your idea of the Democratic party is smaller and more exclusive than mine.

Posted by: Michael at December 12, 2004 04:24 AM

Hey, your opinion is yours. Live with it.
I don't have to like it and if by calling it like I see it gets your panties in a bunch, well, too damn bad.

I can't fathom why you feel the way you do about MoveOn unless you are either a GOP troll or a DLC-wannabe.

Either way, your 'opinion' demonstrates to me that you couldn't find your ass with both hands and a road map.

The Democratic party has a lot to answer for. The time to pay the dues is right freaking now. It's going to take a reboot from the core up, and if that means we are going to step on a few toes along the way, so be it.

The New Democratic Party isn't brown rice, recycling, and tie-dye anymore. The old guard has abandoned the Party and the time for a good political colonic is past due. We may have to actually get our hands dirty, and if this means we have to emulate Satan's buttbuddy, Karl Rove, well...better the devil you know.

So, my freeper friend, MoveOn represents the best of where we should be going. The methods they use and the values of those who run the organization show us what kind of party we could become. I, for one, would love to see this become a model for the party. That remains to be seen.

So, you feel left behind because of MoveOn?
Sorry, but even the Path to Destiny has roadkill.

Posted by: David Aquarius at December 12, 2004 03:05 PM

The Democrats should be willing to emulate Karl Rove's tactics? Like how he smeared John McCain in 2000? It's become more about the game and less about the issues to you.

Posted by: Jesse at December 12, 2004 03:30 PM

Most of Rove's methods are reprehensible to be sure. You assume I would do everything as he to arrive at my ends.

Nothing like that at all. However, having said that, there are a lot of things that the GOP does that we should emulate if we hope to get the message across to Mom and Pop America.

One of them is the dread 'echo chamber'. The GOP is nothing if not consistant. They can spout their BS chapter and verse. How many of their cute little handmade words and phrases have become part of our lexicon? Turn to any of the corporate news readers and you'll see a half dozen or more GOoPers reading from the same damn memo. They're not allowed to stray one iota from the script.

We could use something along those lines. An organization that puts the right person in front of the camera when news breaks. If an 'official' response is needed, we send the right official to the Media to say what we feel needs to be said. No 'lone wolves' to wander off topic and end up with a mouth full of crap.

Rove has a special place in Hel for what he has done and the sooner he gets there the better for us all. But until Karma can catch up to ol' Karl, we should use some of his craft against him.

When you wrestle with pigs, count on getting dirty.

Posted by: David Aquarius at December 12, 2004 03:52 PM

"Longtime readers won't be surprised that I hope they pick Howard Dean to chair the party..."

I'm inclined to agree, Dean's virtues are well-matched to this assignment, he's too compelling a figure to not be put to use on a national stage. I'd like to see him to reinvigorate the priorities at the DNC. Dean's active support base, pioneering success in 21st century grass-roots organizational methods, and his talent for defining issues in an unambiguous way make him a strong contender.

Posted by: Michael at December 12, 2004 08:35 PM