Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Thursday | May 15, 2003

DLC Detonates Dirty Bomb

Time to swap my superhero cape for a firefighter's helmet.

The Democratic Leadership Coalition is under-appreciated by most of the regulars here at dKOS. DLC has done the Left valuable service by finding survival strategies in the nuclear winter of post-Reagan extremism. It has created forums for exploration of the future beyond liberal interest group politics, and a progressivism that transcends nostalgia. It has kept us in the game where our habitual passions, instincts and reflexes would have fouled us out in the first quarter. On numerous issues, it has held ground instead of getting run out of town. It has provided a platform for the best candidates we can elect in many jurisdictions ... including the US of A.

Democracy is not about getting what you want. It's about getting some of what you can get, leaving some for somebody else, getting enough of those somebody's to buy in to create a governing supermajority -- one of many possible supermajorities -- and then not falling into conflict over the spoils or wearing out your welcome before you get anything done.

The Left needs DLC'ers just as much as it needs that faction that thinks of itself as "The Left". There is common ground -- more than either side will admit -- and subfactional animosities have always been exaggerated for effect.

It's an essential part of How Things Get Done. Somebody poses a thesis in sharp relief against the background of status quo. Somebody else cranks up the contrast and poses an antithesis, and sharp arguments ensue. Without polarization, there's no dynamism, and without that it's status quo all the way down.

But enough with the fire extinguisher. It's time to pick up my trusty flame-thrower. The DLC -- or at least the DLC's biggest full-time spokesmouths -- has outdone the worst its many detractors could have imagined.

DLC has thrown a stink bomb into the virtual coliseum where Democrats of all stripes are milling around, working through the process of picking their standard-bearer for a critical election.

DLC launched an unwarranted, unfounded, overwrought, sorry-assed attack on a contending candidate ... a candidate whose record and platform are not inconsistent with DLC principles ... a candidate who clearly appeals to many grassroots DLC supporters and DLC-affiliated elected officials ... a candidate who has a lot of regular people excited about the next election.

Why take this shot, thinly disguised as an exploration of ideas? Maybe for the perceived advantage of a perceived DLC favorite. Maybe as a bid for the spotlight. Maybe Howard Dean scored too uncomfortably well in DLC focus groups. Maybe it was "just one of those things" that happens on "just one of those days".

No matter what possessed it, DLC leadership has gone over the hill and fragged its own camp on the way out. There's plenty of room for New Democrats. Is there still room for the DLC, and DLC candidates? That's not so clear. The DLC has soiled itself badly, and it's up to their leaders to clean up the mess and convince us they won't do it again.

New Dem's and everybody else left of Chuck Hagel can work together for positive change. We know it's time for a change. We're unsure who we are and what we want as a coalition. There is a way to resolve this ... a tried and true formulation. Democrats need to re-adopt an identity they first established over two hundred years ago: The Party of the Common Man.

Not "regular people" ... not "working families" ... not "the little guy". The Common Man.

Who is the Common Man? An important and interesting question, one on which we should all inquire deeply. The answers -- or the inquiry itself -- will tell us much of what we need to know going forward.

[Anticipating an objection, of course the Common Man includes women ... more women than men, as a matter of fact. The Common Man knows that. Only uncommonly obsessive PC-freaks would ever doubt that ... and then mostly just for show ... and the Common Man (or Woman) doesn't have much time for that kind of posturing anyway.]

The Common Man has been getting the worst of it for a good long while. We need to remind ourselves of who we are, what we want, and what we can do about it together. If Old Left and New Democrats will exercise a little Common Sense, and start thinking about who the Common Man is, we'll discover we have many Common Interests in our Commonwealth, many Common Enemies, and many opportunities to take action in pursuit of the Common Good.

RonK, Seattle

Posted May 15, 2003 02:43 PM | Comments (162)


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