Friday, May 25, 2007

It's Depressingly Easy To Intimidate Democrats

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Pres. Bush got his war money tonight --$95 billion to fund the production of more American and Iraqi corpses. The Grim Reaper's representative in the White House promised us that today [emphasis mine]:

President George W. Bush said on Thursday this summer will be a critical time for his troop buildup strategy in Iraq and predicted heavy fighting in the weeks and months ahead.

Faced with demands to make progress in Iraq by September from Democrats and many Republicans, Bush told a news conference that the last troops in a 30,000-troop buildup should be in place by mid-June, and said "This summer is going to be a critical time for the new strategy."

"We expect heavy fighting in the weeks and months" ahead, Bush said. He said more American and Iraqi casualties should be expected.

"I would like to see us in a different configuration at some point in Iraq. However it's going to require taking control of the capital," he said.

With dozens of U.S. troops killed in Iraq this month, Bush said he realized the loss of life was devastating for the families. He also said he was confident the U.S. military was doing everything it could to find two American soldiers missing since their patrol was ambushed on May 12.

What a fucking hypocrite. I'm sure his "realization" is a great comfort to Joseph Anzack, Jr.'s, family and friends, or the families and friends of the other 11 American soldiers who died today and yesterday in Iraq:
Members of the three soldiers' platoon were crushed by reports that a body had been found.

"It just angers me that it's just another friend I've got to lose and deal with, because I've already lost 13 friends since I've been here and I don't know if I can take anymore of this," said Spc. Daniel Seitz, 22, from Pensacola, Fla.

Unfortunately, he will have to, because George W. Bush, the man whose inherited privilege has enabled him to put Daniel Seitz through hell on earth even as Bush enjoys his private heaven on earth, has announced that we are to expect to see many more pine boxes coming off planes.

And thanks to his trembling toadies, aka Democrats in Congress, he can make that happen.

That said, we who are liberals first and Democrats second do have options:
As I have stated before and as my actions have demonstrated, I am a liberal first and a Democrat second. The vast majority of the time the philosophy intersects with the party, but when it is not, I support liberal ideas over the political party. The most significant liberal policy goal in my mind is to redeploy US forces from Iraq and fix the decision process and the intellectually constrained framework of our current foreign policy debate. This mindset is why I have long encouraged netroots backed primary challengers to numerous Democrats in the 2008 cycle. I supported Ned Lamont against Joe Lieberman for the same reason.

I just want to thank some of the spineless Democratic establishment for making the collective research and targeting decisions for people who share similar attitudes as me in which Democratic primaries we should be supporting aggressive challengers. In the Senate, the simplifying vote so far has been the Reid-Feingold vote with the following Democrats voting against establishing a priority of withdrawal by a certain deadline:

Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Conrad (D-ND)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Levin (D-MI)
Lincoln (D-AR)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Tester (D-MT)
Webb (D-VA)

Chris Bowers goes one step further. He thinks that some Democrats in Congress may actually feel it serves their interests to blow off their progressive grassroots base:
By now, I'm sure most people have seen this:
Democrats said they did not relish the prospect of leaving Washington for a Memorial Day break -- the second recess since the financing fight began -- and leaving themselves vulnerable to White House attacks that they were again on vacation while the troops were wanting. That criticism seemed more politically threatening to them than the anger Democrats knew they would draw from the left by bowing to Mr. Bush.

This isn't just a reporter putting words in Democratic mouths. As Matt showed earlier today, several specific Democrats are actually scared of Bush on this. Now, if you think it seems more than a little inane to be scared of a guy whose approval rating just hit an all-time low today, especially when it comes to a war which just reached its all-time low in terms of support today, and when, on Tuesday, centrist beltway firm GQR released a report showing that Republicans were being significantly damaged by the Iraq War debate, then you are probably right. I mean, given all of that, there is an outside chance you are right. Maybe.

But there is something else going on here besides a bizarre fear of continuing to oppose the least popular president in thirty years on the least popular war in fifty-five years, and a fear of prolonging a debate that was causing Democrats to win over voters in frontline House districts. Keep in mind that while a demoralized progressive activist base has negative repercussions for Democratic electoral fortunes in general elections, in terms of intra-party power struggles, a demoralized, progressive, grassroots activist base actually strengthens the position of neoliberals, LieberDems, and the DLC-nexus within the Democratic Party power structure. If progressive grassroots activists are too demoralized to make small donations, the party becomes more reliant on large donors. If we are too demoralized to run for party office or challenge sitting Democrats in primaries, the establishment Democratic power structure are never held accountable for running ineffective campaigns or selling out the base. If we don't use the strength of the progressive movement in the 2008 presidential primaries, then the influence the DLC-nexus, neoliberals, and LieberDems have in determining the direction of the Democratic Party increases. And on and on. In other words, there are those who benefit internally from a demoralized, inactive, progressive grassroots base, even if the party as a whole is damaged. We all saw this from 1994-2002, when the Democratic Party was regularly defeated in general elections on a scale not seen since the 1920s, and while the DLC-nexus simultaneously solidified a unprecedented level of control over the Democratic Party establishment.

For example, the idea that Hillary Clinton would be facing any serious challenge to the Democratic nomination without the expansion and maturation of the contemporary progressive movement and open left in the last four years is preposterous. That isn't to say that she has no support within the new movement, but just to state the obvious: she has less support within the movement than do other candidates, and far less support within the movement relative to the rest of the Democratic rank and file. Further, that isn't to imply that the only support candidates like Obama and Edwards have comes from the progressive movement, but once against to state the obvious: each candidate is greatly buoyed by the support he is receiving from the movement. Yet further, I do not mean to imply that there is an active "demoralize the grassroots base" strategy being undertaken by the Clinton campaign. I just wish to point out that one of the reasons some Democrats might be less scared of the activist base than they are of Bush is because a demoralized grassroots base actually has positive, intra-party side effects for some Democrats. See Lieberman, Joe for more information on that subject.

Maybe a better way to understand the situation is to state that some Democrats are more afraid of Bush than they are of a demoralized, progressive, grassroots base. After all, there are probably some Democrats who wish, for example, that the progressive blogosphere never came into existence, because then no one in the base would be calling them out on a regular basis. We are a direct threat to the long-accrued power of many members of the Democratic establishment, but only when we are active and energized. Given this, why should any of our favorite punching bags be afraid of doing something that would demoralize us? In fact, there are probably many who are eager to demoralize us. This is worth remembering whenever Democrats do something -- secret trade deals, Iraq funding capitulation, lobbying reform collapses -- that gives you the urge to thrown in the towel on intra-party activism. A demoralized grassroots base removes one of the main checks against Democrats who run amuck. Personally, after a short period of dejection, I now feel that the ways some Democrats have screwed up in the last couple weeks-- secret trade deals, Iraq funding capitulation, lobbying reform collapses--is a useful splash of cold water to remind me of how much work is left to be done in our intra-party struggles. I hope, as time goes on, more and more of us feel the same way. We will only lose over the long-term if we give up because of the short-term.


Joan said...

Hey Kathy!

Why should the Democrats have voted any differently? It is not like anybody who considers themselves a liberal is going to refuse to vote for them. They have you in their back pocket and they know it.

Take Care

Kathy said...

Think of the bright side, though, Joan.

Look for the silver lining.

I've enjoyed your comments at Shakesville, by the way.

How's the quilting going?


Joan said...

LOL, Kathy,

I am not sure what that bright side is on this matter, but what the hell...I have always been the glass is half full kind of broad! :))

I am doing well, thank you. I have really been quilting a lot and it is going well. I am currently working on six diferent quilts! We started a new quilting circle here and so we meet every Monday for a day of quilting. We just about get around to every topic under the sun. We do talk politics a great deal. You should come quilt with us.

How are you doing? How is teaching going? Are the kids behaving themselves? I guess the summer vacation must be coming up soon.

Take Care