Last week, at the YearlyKos convention . . . [t]he DLC was nowhere to be found -- unless you looked in Nashville, where its members continued to preach, in empty halls, about the "vital center." Even the Democratic presidential candidates have figured out where the heart of the party now lies: with the new, unashamedly progressive movement.The DLC believes the country is more conservative than it is, Markos contends. Ford cautioned this week against pushing the party too far left and ignoring the "vital center."
The DLC had two decades to make its case, to build an audience and community, to elect leaders the American people wanted. It failed.
Its members number in the hundreds, compared with the millions that the people-powered movement can claim, and they are reduced to attacking our movement from the studios of right-wing Fox News and pleading that in the next election they'll really prove that the mushy, indistinguishable "middle" is where the American people want to be.
Every four years, in the heat of the nominating process, liberals and conservatives alike dream of a world in which swing voters don't exist. Some on the left would love to pretend that groups such as the Democratic Leadership Council, the party's leading centrist voice, aren't needed anymore.More to the point, it's the DLC that finds itself out of the mainstream. The Beltway-centric group is too inclined towards a politics that goes along to get along, instead of standing on principle. Standing for something. Anything, besides behaving like a battered wife. "Centrist" accommodation of this administration brought us the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act and last week's FISA bill. If that's all Democrats have got, we don't deserve to lead the country. That's why there is a progressive movement.
As I have written before, the electorate (from left to right) wants to vote for candidates who are unapologetic about what they stand for and govern like they mean it. They voted for the Mayberry Machiavellis, so skilled at posturing about principle, but whose "principled" leadership brought us Iraq, domestic surveillance, waterboarding, Alberto Gonzales, the U.S. attorney firings, voter caging and the Katrina debacle.
Voters got burned. They want and deserve the real deal.
NBC's David Gregory (sitting in for Tim Russert) kept pushing Markos about whether he and the netroots were pushing the Democratic party to the left. As in his WaPo piece, Markos made the case that the progressive grassroots/netroots movement isn't about him, or who's liberal or conservative -- progressives supported a slew of candidates last fall with some fairly conservative views. Unlike the more diffident DLC, the progressive movement is about reclaiming the Democratic wing of the Democratic party and making no "triangulating" bones about it.
I'm reminded of a tale by Decatur, Georgia's Roy Blount, Jr. As I heard him tell it, he was miffed to read a national story about Southerners eating kaolin (clay) for settling stomachs. (A traditional remedy, kaolin is a principle ingredient in Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate.) An educated man hoping to overcome negative southern stereotypes, Blount found himself facing questions from uppity Yankees: "Do you eat dirt?" Blount said (as I recall),
Now there are only two ways to answer a question like that. One, you can deny you eat dirt. They won't believe you. They know you come from dirt eaters and will think you've gotten too good for your upbringing. Or else you say. "Hell, yes, I eat dirt! I understand you people up here eat cold soup and raw fish!"Right back at you.
In spite of Markos' stinging critiques, DLC chair Harold Ford ended the MTP interview saying he expects to attend next year's YearlyKos convention. Harold, welcome to the "Hell, yes, I'm a Democrat" wing of the Democratic party.