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Howard Dean speaking at Netroots Nation 2007
Howard Dean at Yearly Kos (now Netroots Nation) 2007, as we worked on dragging our party to the future.
We might be laughing at the the Republican National Committee's autopsy, but it has sparked outright hostility on the Right. On one side are the establishment Republicans, desperate for a party that can compete and win elections, on the other side are the Teabaggers, convinced that only further purity will lead to glory.

I've been transfixed by this battle, watching it play out, trying to gauge whether it's a temporary flare-up or whether it presages a deeper split in the conservative movement. (The jury is still out.) But it has reminded me of something else—the battles that first sparked the Netroots into existence.

Our current Democratic Party has got plenty of problems, but you only need to see things like this to realize how far we've come:

You’ve often heard Republicans talk about organizing campaigns around the vaunted “guns, God, and gays” formulation long beloved by GOP strategists. Now progressives and Democrats are increasingly organizing around a cultural and economic issue triumvirate of their own: Guns, gays, and the minimum wage.
Ten years ago, when the Netroots was just a wee baby, establishment Democrats convinced themselves that survival depended on holding the line against gay rights (Howard Dean was unelectable because of civil unions!), against gun control and against anything smacking of a tax increase. An entire cottage industry arose around trying to get Democrats to better appeal to religious voters. And it didn't matter how unnecessary a war was, it was verboten to oppose one.

There was a clear battle between those DLC-corporatist-style Democrats and the reformer Netroots, leading to the 2005 election of Howard Dean to run our party, and culminating with the 2006 ouster of Joe Lieberman from the Democratic Party. Following that seminal moment, the intra-party hostilities ratcheted down—the party adopted our anti-war stance, and over time has moved left on pretty much every issue of concern except for civil liberties and drones. So much so, in fact, that the DCCC has explicitly said that it will campaign in 2014 on the issues of minimum wage and gun control.

So perhaps that bodes well for conservatives in their intra-party battle royale. Well, except there's one major difference between our own fight and theirs: The policies and positions we were pushing were popular with the American public. Nothing we promoted, save for marriage equality in those early days, was unpopular with voters. We used polling and other data to buttress our arguments, making sure we remained in the reality-based community.

Neither establishment Republicans nor the Teabaggers can claim the same. Everything they believe in is unpopular. So while we dragged the Democratic Party kicking and screaming into the future, we did so in a way that made it easier for them to win elections. Republicans are stuck between an unpopular establishment party that can't win outside of gerrymandered districts and the Deep South, and even more unpopular "reformers" that can't win even in solidly Red states like Indiana and Missouri.

Thus, for an internal civil war, the stakes couldn't be lower. Losing is losing. On the other hand, it's super entertaining for us on the outside, because there's nothing more fun than conservative vs conservative (rhetorical) violence.

Originally posted to kos on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 01:27 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's a crucial difference (32+ / 0-)
    Everything they believe in is unpopular.
    They have backed themselves into a corner and even the willing faction, if there is one, won't come out in good shape. Get the popcorn ready.

    -7.75, -8.10; . . . Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall (h/t cooper888)

    by Dave in Northridge on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 01:37:13 PM PDT

  •  They can't even agree on why they suck (20+ / 0-)

    How anyone could expect them to perform competently should they again regain power is beyond me.




    Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
    ~ Jerry Garcia

    by DeadHead on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 01:45:24 PM PDT

    •  Hucksters are trying to clean out the rest of the (11+ / 0-)

      suckers.

      I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

      by JML9999 on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 01:48:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It must suck to be the Party of Suck (10+ / 0-)

        that's only popular with a constituency of suckers.




        Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
        ~ Jerry Garcia

        by DeadHead on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 02:00:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Aren't all Republicans (14+ / 0-)

        hucksters?

        In August 2008, as the right wing of the Republican Party grew increasingly disenchanted with the party’s direction, the men from Russo, Marsh and Associates sensed opportunity: They created a political action committee, Our Country Deserves Better, and in time launched the Tea Party Express.

        Russo, Marsh — an established California outfit of Republican consultants — was just getting started. The firm formed a second political committee, this one with a pro-military agenda. And eventually, seizing on the President’s unpopularity in certain circles, they opened a third, the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama.

        Throughout the 2012 election cycle, the committees were relentless. In email after email, they pleaded for small donations to run ads supporting candidates who would defeat President Obama’s “socialist” agenda. And it worked: They collected more than $14 million in donations — from all over the country, and from donors who gave as little as $10 to elect Ted Cruz as a Republican senator from Texas or to put Mitt Romney in the White House.

        Yet an examination of the PACs’ expenditures shows they spent a small percentage of the money they raised on work directly aimed at getting candidates elected — paid ads, say, or contributions to other political committees. Mainly, they paid consultants. And the biggest chunk of that consultant money went to Russo, Marsh and Associates, and people connected to the firm.

        Inside Game: Creating PACs And Then Spending Their Money
        (via TPM)

        “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

        by skohayes on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 02:40:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  And The Grift Goes On (11+ / 0-)

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

        10/10:Gingrich, who stepped down as speaker at the relatively young age of 55, is certainly not the first to cash in on a political career. But he has blazed a path unlike any other, essentially taking on the role of a politician without the hassles of holding office.

        He writes books such as "To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine." He's selling $99 replicas of his wooden speaker's gavel and $150 wall charts mapping the bureaucracies of the Democratic health care bill.

        He runs a communications firm, a production company and a handful of advocacy groups. He makes documentaries and self-improvement videos, commands fees of at least $40,000 per speech and provides paid commentary on Fox News – often cross-promoting his projects through various media.

        As controversy erupted over building a New York City mosque and community center near ground zero, for example, Gingrich provocatively compared the proposal to putting a Nazi sign next to a holocaust museum. One of his advocacy groups, Renewing American Leadership, was simultaneously circulating a fundraising pitch urging donors to send money to stop the Islamic center.

        "As one who holds your freedoms dearly, I know I can count on you," he wrote.

        When someone is impatient and says, "I haven't got all day," I always wonder, How can that be? How can you not have all day? George Carlin

        by msmacgyver on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 02:53:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's hard to win anything (23+ / 0-)

    when your official choice of party philosophies is between "Not Forward" and "Backward."

    Another difference between Dems back then and Repubs right now: While Howard Dean emerged as a party leader despite his electoral loss because he actually spoke the truth, someone like Jon Huntsman seems to have pretty much been pushed into obscurity. It was all wingnuts before the election, and it's all wingnuts post-election. Which means they've learned nothing.

    Ecology is the new Economy

    by citisven on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 02:00:33 PM PDT

  •  We can still lose. (29+ / 0-)

    Remember 2010? It wasn't a fluke.

    We lost because we didn't deliver. We promised Progressive policies and delivered mostly weakness and blue-doggery. We controlled the government during a time of national crisis and did almost nothing.

    No giant stimulus. No bankers in jail. No progressive taxation. No massive infrastructure spending.

    Many popular Progressive policies didn't get enacted. Voters concluded that Democrats were all talk and either stayed home or voted against us.

    The same thing can happen again. In fact, given the Senate Democrats' pro-filibuster stance, I'd say we are on our way to another painful mid-term. Most Democratic Senators are vulnerable to the charge of being pro-filibuster and pro-banker. All it takes is a loudmouthed Rand Paul-type Republican to make the accusation.

    Saying that polls show such-and-such a policy is wildly popular means nothing if we don't actually deliver the policy.

    Republicans are working to muzzle the racists and bigots in their party. They know that they don't need to win the minority vote, they just need to not get totally whupped like they did in 2012.

    (G. W. Bush got 10% of the Black vote once. He got a strong portion of the Latino vote also. It can happen again).

    Don't sleep.

  •  If anything. . . (8+ / 0-)

    It seems to me that Dean was too far ahead of the curve on same-sex marriage. In many ways he was excellent, but the lesson I've learned is that there are limits to how far ideological purity will take a Party. If there's a formal schism on the Right, they can write off beating Democrats for the foreseeable future.

    The downside for us is that our moderates have prevented real progress.

    The victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.

    by Pacifist on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 02:06:10 PM PDT

  •  uhhh.. Obama won with 51%, kos.. (7+ / 0-)

    not exactly the comfy spot at which you can sit back and laugh at the competition, IMHO.  

    Yes, the internal flailing of the GOP is amusing.. but 47% of voters still held their noses and voted for Romney.

    If the GOP ever reconciles themselves to gay marriage and immigration reform - which we have seen happening in recent weeks things could change quickly.  2016 is a ways off, though.

    While President Obama has skillfully avoided any of the negatives of ACA and the economy affecting his re-election, that will not be so for Congress come 2014.

    21 of the 35 Senate open seats are currently Dem.. many in GOP leaning states. And you crow about the DCCC running on gun control??  Jeebus..  maybe you know something I don't, but it could get ugly if that's what the Dems have for a theme.  ACA regs.. silly gun control laws.. and an anemic economy.. oh yeah.. sounds like a fun time to laugh at the competition.

    •  Did 2008 not happen? (12+ / 0-)

      He won twice you know. Why construe 2012 unfavorably? He was predicted to lose in the Summer of 2011.

      Clinton didn't get 51% in either 92 or 96. He earned more votes than his predecessor. Daddy Bush got 53% the first time and lost the next time. Reagan got 50.8% in 1980 but manged to solider on.

      The country has been closely divided for decades now. President Obama did well in both his presidential races under much tougher circumstances than his recent predecessors.

      If you want to spew wingnut talking points then go to redstate. If that isn't your intention then you should ask yourself why your comment could easily have been said by a wingnut.

      If you don't like/feel betrayed/hate President Obama, then just say that instead of downtalking the thousands of people who worked their asses off on his behalf or the millions that turned out to vote for him. 2012 went well for the Dems and we are planning to build upon that in 2014. If you aren't down with that, what the heck are you doing on DK?

      "There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.".. Buddha

      by sebastianguy99 on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 02:29:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We had 25 Senate seats (4+ / 0-)

      to defend in 2012, and not only did we win those, we won two races that were expected to go to Republicans.
      We gained seats in the House.
      Millions more people voted Democratic than Republican.

      If the GOP ever reconciles themselves to gay marriage and immigration reform - which we have seen happening in recent weeks things could change quickly.  2016 is a ways off, though.
      LOL, if they reconcile themselves to gay marriage and immigration reform, they lose the social conservatives, who are some of the most active people in the base.
      They've already promised to find a primary opponent for Rob Portman.

      “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

      by skohayes on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 02:51:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But if... (0+ / 0-)

        Both dems and repubs are in favor of gay marriage, immigration reform, etc, who exactly do u think social conservatives are going to vote for?  

        Its not like we have more than two parties in this country, if both parties act rationally, who will they crazies...I mean social conservatives vote for?

        They will still vote for the party that begrudgingly reconciled to finally tolerating immigrants and gay marriage.  Or not vote at all.

        •  They'll stay home (0+ / 0-)

          they won't donate, they won't work for campaigns and they won't support Republicans who support gay marriage or immigration reform.
          There are still plenty of Tea Party candidates out there.

          “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

          by skohayes on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 02:10:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  so you'd prefer "let them die", "guns made America (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vcmvo2
      ACA regs.. silly gun control laws.. and an anemic economy.. oh yeah.. sounds like a fun time to laugh at the competition.
      great", and "job creators" instead . . . . ?

      I think someone just ran on that platform five months ago.  How'd he do?

    •  New Jersey was down by 300,000 votes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David M Landreth, vcmvo2

      and New York by 600,000 votes. In both states President Obama increased his % share.

      I'd say that the 51% is not really an issue. Despite every possible method of attack, despite numerous flaws in the Democratic campaign, despite the weak economy, despite, despite..... Republicans gained only 1.4% of the vote compared to their disaster of 2008. That is more of an issue to the GOP then it is to the Democratic Party.

      The issues that strengthen the Democratic Party in a Presidential year will not go away until the GOP changes or the GOP uses their ability to change electoral college rules.

      Getting voters to turn out in mid-terms, that is indeed a different issue. Let's see what a now semi-detached OFA can do.

  •  I miss our own civil wars (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotasm

    2004 and 2008 developed the party

  •  Only... (11+ / 0-)

    ..one big hole in your thesis:

    Obama has yet to be moved left on SS & Medicare.

    Obama has bought into a far right framing of SS & Medicare, & is on the verge of cutting both.

    You can brag all you want about moving the Democratic party to the left, but our right wing president (right wing when it comes to entitlements) is on the cusp of hobbling the Democratic party for a generation.

    To any Republican reading this, I request you write a diary about why Republicans are such assholes. I promise to tip & recommend such a diary.

    by wyvern on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 02:25:01 PM PDT

    •  The other quibble... (8+ / 0-)

      Is that Kos states that the party hasn't been moved to the left yet on issues such as civil liberties and drones.  Well, no, that's not right.  Obama in 2007 CAMPAIGNED as a leftist on civil liberties and drones.  Once he took office, he adopted and strengthened the W policies he had campaigned against.  And the Democratic party has merrily gone along with hardly a whimper of protest.

      This is a minor quibble, and I wouldn't bring it up, except that I think it gets to a bigger issue - does the Democratic party support principles, or does it support a person?  Are we trying to move a country left, or elected officials to the left?  

      •  He's my president, (4+ / 0-)

        so I'll support him. While making sure we support progressive lawmakers (we've got some great new Senators, and the progressive caucus is the biggest in the House now), because that's where the laws are written.
        It won't happen overnight. Or in Obama's two terms.

        “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

        by skohayes on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 02:55:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  And so is the party (0+ / 0-)

      I don't exactly see our leaders saying hell no to chained CPI.

      The progressive caucus is against it but they are not quite 50 percent of the caucus.

      This is a big problem for the Democratic Party.

      "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

      by noofsh on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 05:24:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  IOW progressives were right (10+ / 0-)

    and centrists were wrong. When has that ever not been the case in US history? When has the center, let alone the right, been right about anything? I'm sure there are some exceptions, but I struggle to come up with any.

    And I say this as a former centrist. I was wrong about SO much.

    The key question is not whether progressivism is right, but how to advance it.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 02:25:42 PM PDT

    •  Right you are (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      I moved way to the left.  The country is too far to the right.  We can not keep triangulating to the middle.  We need to hold the line and push hard left.

      "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

      by noofsh on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 05:26:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'll buy this. (0+ / 0-)

        And I think the place to push back is on corporations, esp. the multi-national types. They have turned Fascism 1.0 on its head to make Fascism 2.0.
        (In v. 1.0...Italy, Austria, Germany, Spain, Portugal in the 1930s, many features of it in post-WWII Argentina, South Africa, Indonesia...there was the key trait of a close collaboration between government and large corporations. BUT the government was the Senior Partner, the aims were nationalistic, the means militaristic.
        In v. 2.0....a lot of global South nations and more lately Iceland, Greece, Italy, Spain, Ireland, and very recently Cyprus...to a partial effect, most of the rest of the industrialized "West"... the key trait of close collaboration between government and large corporations is present. BUT this time the multi-nationals are the Senior partner, the aims are plutocratic, the means financial manipulation.)

        FWIW.

        Shalom.

        "God has given wine to gladden the hearts of people." Psalm 104:15

        by WineRev on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 06:17:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The problem with today's center (0+ / 0-)

        is that it's where the midpoint of the right used to be, and much of today's left is where the actual center used to be. The old left is a shell of its former self, although it's growing again. But today's centrists are yesterday's moderate conservatives, and many of them are weak or unprincipled self-interested hacks who won't put up a fight, and don't have deep convictions.

        There were two types who supported the war, actual hawks who thought it a good idea, and cowardly centrists who were afraid to oppose it. Ok, I suppose a third group, credulous morons who believed the lies--like me.

        I suppose it's possible to be a decent, principled centrist or conservative with good ideas. But we haven't seen many in years, at least not in office. Perhaps Angus King will turn out to be one.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 10:17:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Well, a few things come to mind (0+ / 0-)

      1946: the Morganthau Plan to convert prostrate Germany into a completely agricultural society so they couldn't manufacture war materiel anymore. Sounds pretty "Left" to me. Stalin (a man who wrapped himself in "Left", Marx, Engels and Lenin) did exactly that, carting off every bit of machinery that wasn't set in concrete back to the USSR and leaving behind a shell later called East Germany.
             The 1947 Marshall Plan (supported by former isolationist Sen. Vandenberg) was a much more centrist solution.

      1948: The "Right" thought withdrawing from US army occupation forces from Prague would let the Soviets install a Communist regime in Czechoslvakia. Guess what? They did.

      1950: The US Sec. of State, Dean Acheson, does not mention that the Korean Peninsula is considered in the US defense perimeter. Limiting US defense spending and overseas commitments has long been a "Left" position. On July 25 the North Koreans decided to "Re-unify" the peninsula at the point of a gun, aided 6 months later by 300,000 Chinese "volunteers."

      1962: Was preventing the installation of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba a "Left", "Center" or "Right" position?

      1980: Lech Walesa helps form the Solidarnosc Union in Poland. It is supported by the anti-woman, anti-gay Roman Catholic Church. Since Solidarnosc was trying to restore Polish independence, freedom of the press, religion and a less regulated economy they were repeatedly accused and villified by the Warsaw press and Russian Press as being anti-people, reactionary, and bourgeois...all epithets the "Left" is fond of hurling at the "Right" and "Center".

      So was the eventual collapse of the "Left" in Eastern Europe a "win" for the "Right"? For the "Center"?

      You may have more heft to your point of view on domestic matters but we live on a world stage too.

      Shalom.

      "God has given wine to gladden the hearts of people." Psalm 104:15

      by WineRev on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 06:10:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I said US, not world history (0+ / 0-)

        We've never had a viable far left in the US, by which I mean true socialists and communists. Nor is our right, even our far right, comparable to, say, Peron, Franco or Hitler. Sure, we have people at both extremes who probably would be that extreme, but they've never had real power, and there's little reason to believe they will any time soon. The actual ideological spectrum in the US is a lot more compressed than in much of he world, even though it's clearly shifted rightward over the years, making today's centrists yesterdays conservatives.

        Also, it's kind of meaningless to apply the terms right, center and left to foreign policy, as we've had liberal hawks and conservative isolationists. The real divide is between interventionists and isolationists, of which there are both in each party, with principled centrists being for both, depending on the situation, and unprincipled centrists being for whatever's more politically safe for them.

        I guess I was referring to unprincipled centrists when I said centrists, i.e. people who aren't really on the right or left, but rather on their own side.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 10:10:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Can we please stop saying "gun control"... (10+ / 0-)

    ...and start saying "gun safety"?  Our framing SUCKS!!

    kos once suggested that we stop saying "mainstream media" (since they aren't in the mainstream) and instead call them "traditional media".  He should take a page from his own book and stop using Republican framing.

    "The political system, including elections, is carefully managed to prevent the threat of democracy."  ~Noam Chomsky

    -7.38, -6.97

    by cotasm on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 02:33:47 PM PDT

  •  The GOP didn't get enough votes from women (6+ / 0-)

    The answer is:

    "We need to let more women into our Party".

    Yeah, that'll work.

    Not one right winger has even noticed the stupid.

    Keep it up morans.

    "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

    by GrumpyOldGeek on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 02:34:17 PM PDT

    •  Yes, that patriarchal thing is soooo noticeable. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GrumpyOldGeek, 3goldens

      Funny, but I don't ever recall having to ask for admission or acceptance into a political party.  I thought that was for fraternities, (Skull and Bones), country clubs and hate groups.  The exclusive and elite white guy clubs.

      Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

      by judyms9 on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 03:02:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  10 Years Ago (4+ / 0-)

    The Democratic Party wasn't trying to cut Social Security and Medicare.  

    Meanwhile, we rattle sabers at Syria and Iran.  Anti-war?  I don't think so.

    Gay marriage?  Fine.   But if you think there are more gay voters than religious voters, I think you might be surprised.   And if you think Hispanics are not religious voters you might be surprised again.  

    I see a lot of hubris among Democrats writing of seniors, writing off Catholics, and condescending to religious voters generally.  

    The party is still too often tone deaf to voters beyond the coasts.  Even in Minnesota which has a large gay community in the Twin Cities and where the anti-gay marriage amendment was defeated (and not just by Democrats and with the help of Lutherans) that issue is felt intensely by only a minority of voters.  You can't win elections on that issue alone.

    •  But Civil Rights and Equality are causes which do (6+ / 0-)

      indded affect us all because it speaks to our society and we as a people.  For me, these issues are moral issues too.   So just because some of us are not LGBT and because some of us are not minorities or some are not women does not change how all of these issues impact our neighbhorhoods, workplaces, homes, and families.

      We as a Nation are judged about how we treat and how we respect the rights and dignityh of our citizens. That is my firm belief.

      Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

      by wishingwell on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 02:48:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree and I support gay marriage BUT (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        judyms9, wishingwell, 3goldens, brae70

        it's not the issue that motivates most people to vote.   And for some of us issues like civil liberties, peace, and the safety net are every bit as strongly felt moral issues.  

        Democrats are still not strong enough on economic issues and I worry about how Democrats seem to think they can use their own wedge issues and ethnic demographics instead of working harder on class issues.  

        •  It is for Republicans (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wishingwell, The BigotBasher

          You might look back to the 2004 election, and see how the gay marriage issue propelled Bush into a second term.
          Social conservatives are still spending a lot of money trying to defeat gay marriage laws in many states.

          “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

          by skohayes on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 02:59:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't believe gay marriage defeated Kerry (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Odysseus, blukat

            Kerry appeared woefully inauthentic trying to have it both ways on Iraq.

            •  It was a factor that assisted in his defeat. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              skohayes

              The gay marriage votes were an obvious tool to get SoCons out. The reason the GOP Governors did not use them in 2012 - they know which way the wind is blowing.

            •  If Ohio had enough voting machines, Kerry would (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              skohayes

              have won.

              Kerry did not try to have it both way was on Iraq,  Had he been President, he would not have taken the country to war.  His speech on Iraq  at NYU, which was the major policy speech was clear on that -- but then addressed what we had to do from that point on to win.

              The fact is that in November 2004, even among many who thought we should NOT have gone to war, there were a large percent who thought we had to "stabalize" Iraq before we left. (The fact is DEAN was also not for just pulling out and he was less specific than Kerry on what he would do. )

              Kerry (as would any Democrat) had a very narrow path to navigate. I know a couple, now in their 80s, who I would have assumed would have been strong supporters of Kerry because of the type of person he is. In fact, they were extremely against him because he regularly referred to Bush not doing everything possible before going to war and thus it was not a war of last resort. To them as Catholics, Kerry was saying that the war was not a just war.  It amazes me, that they - and many others on the other side - got that Kerry was saying the war we were then fighting was immoral - while many on the left were calling him a warmonger.

              Another part of the problem was Clinton in the summer on his book tour speaking against those who would question how the war was conducted - and that I guess included our candidate. Many Democrats in the media in the general election were Clinton people and they often diagreed with the candidate.

        •  It is interesting as I have been doing GOTV for 36 (4+ / 0-)

          years now and the social issues do motivate the younger and newer voters more than I had originally thought.  It was a big factor on many college campuses in my area and for some sporadic and new voters who were sick of the Republicans war on women, war on minorities and war on marriage equality for all. It was a huge factor in the defeat or Murdock and  those like him, and those debating what is real rape and so on. Women  and many men were deeply offended.

          You have a point about economics and job and labor issues needing more attention and stronger policies and viewpoints articulated.  That needs to be a focus.  But our party has a rich history of being pro labor and pro jobs and pro opportunity and pro education and pro science.  But there are things , like you mentioned, that we need to improve on. We can never , ever be complacent. I Have experienced too many losing elections to be ever be complacent.  I am a lifelong Democrat and lifelong volunteer for the party so yes, there are always things we talk about in our local Democratic party meetings on which we can improve and refocus on.

          Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

          by wishingwell on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 03:12:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  it'd be nice if Dems could run on their laurels (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Odysseus

            Alas, they don't have any.

            "All those things that 60-80% of people wanted?  "Yeah, sorry about that--our campaign contributors didn't want those. But vote for me and maybe you'll get it next time. If the campaign contributors say it's OK."

            Not a very viable campaign strategy. Especially if the Repugs implode and "if the Repugs win Supreme Court oh noes !!!!!!!!!!" is no longer a good scare story.

            Maybe we should go with "if we don't drone the terrists in Kuala Lampur we'll have to drone them in Los Angeles !!!!!" and see how that works . . .

            The Dems are a party without principles or beliefs. We have no idea what we want as a party. Which means no one has any reason to vote for us.

            We can laugh at the Repugs, but we are also a party that has lost its way.

  •  I wish this statement were true (5+ / 0-)
    the party...over time has moved left on pretty much every issue of concern except for civil liberties and drones.
    How about taxes?  Compare today's tax code with the one at this point (or the end of) Bill Clinton's presidency:  Fewer people pay the top rate, and more importantly, taxes on investment income are considerably lower for the top brackets.  The inheritance tax is also lower than Clinton left it.  And Clinton was DLC.

    Then there's Obama's support-- not reluctant compromise to accept, but outright support-- for Chained CPI (which is in essence a slow phase-out of Social Security:  If it passes, most of us won't live to see the day that benefits become so trivial that the program might as well not even exist, but it will come; we will live to see significant decreases in SS buying power), to which he has gotten Democratic congressional leaders to sign on.

    The party has moved left on non-fiscal issues, I would agree (outside of those areas you noted), but it's to the right of The Big Dog on fiscal issues.

    Economic -3.50/Social -2.41. Democratic wing of the Democratic party (though not extreme left). NO chained CPI, etc.

    by CenterLeft on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 02:41:04 PM PDT

    •  Not exactly true (0+ / 0-)

      By the time the baby boomers die off, the population of seniors will drop off again, and the trust fund will build back up again.
      However, we know that in 2035, benefits will be reduced by 25%, unless something is done. I don't think chained CPI is the way to go, but if we do nothing, then benefit cuts will be much worse.

      “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

      by skohayes on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 03:04:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Two things (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The BigotBasher, Odysseus

        1) It's far enough away that there's no need to start cutting benefits now, and

        2) As you admit, there are better ways to do it.  The absolute best way IMO is to remove the cap on how much of earnings one pays taxes on.  Then SS tax would be proportional (on income from work) rather than regressive.

        I obviously haven't scored it, but I'm pretty sure the SS tax rate could actually be lowered a bit if this were done, while still keeping SS solvent indefinitely.

        Economic -3.50/Social -2.41. Democratic wing of the Democratic party (though not extreme left). NO chained CPI, etc.

        by CenterLeft on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 03:22:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, so nice to see FDR's legacy being tossed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CenterLeft, rhauenstein

      into the poker game at the same time that pensions are disappearing from the workplace.  Of course, Wall Street will solve the problems of post working life survival the same way they did 401K's back in 2007-08.  Having a Dem president undo FDR's legacy is the most politically lame thing I can think of.

      Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

      by judyms9 on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 03:08:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The parallel is more w/Dems in the 80s, no? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ten canvassers, madmojo

    where we were caught between New Left progressives with little mainstream traction, Labor progressives with fading mainstream traction, and 'New Ideas' centrists who only had traction to the extent they were riding along on the Conservative wave.  Oy vey.   I'll take the early 00's anytime over that period.  

  •  and what do us DFH's get from the Dem party for (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens

    doing this:

    the party adopted our anti-war stance, and over time has moved left on pretty much every issue of concern except for civil liberties and drones. So much so, in fact, that the DCCC has explicitly said that it will campaign in 2014 on the issues of minimum wage and gun control.
    we get told, even here, to sit down and shut up because we purity trolls are why pragmatic Dems lose elections.

    (snicker)

  •  Please explain it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    defluxion10

    What really mystifies me is how the tea Party people can be so vocal and active while they demonstrate and vote against their own best interests.  How does that happen?  Are they short attention-span people?  Or don't they even care?

  •  So why are Dems pushing cuts to SS & Medicare (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenbell, judyms9, 3goldens, Mr MadAsHell

    benefits?

    It's not necessary and, in light of GOP failure, those cuts to low income seniors seem downright counter intuitive.

    Seems like our party is engaging in self-sabotage.

    It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. FDR

    by Betty Pinson on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 02:58:40 PM PDT

    •  It's not necessary? (0+ / 0-)
      The aging of the
      baby-boom generation portends a significant and sustained increase in the share of the population receiving
      benefits from Social Security and Medicare, as well as
      long-term care services financed by Medicaid. Moreover,
      per capita spending for health care is likely to continue
      rising faster than spending per person on other goods and
      services for many years (although the magnitude of that
      gap is uncertain). Without significant changes in government policy, those factors will boost federal outlays relative to GDP well above their average of the past several
      decades—a conclusion that holds under any plausible
      assumptions about future trends in demographics, economic conditions, and health care costs.
      According to CBO’s projections, if current laws remained
      in place, spending on the major federal health care
      programs alone would grow from more than 5 percent of
      GDP today to almost 10 percent in 2037 and would continue to increase thereafter.1 Spending on Social Security
      is projected to rise much less sharply, from 5 percent of
      GDP today to more than 6 percent in 2030 and subsequent decades. Altogether, the aging of the population
      and the rising cost of health care would cause spending
      on the major health care programs and Social Security
      to grow from more than 10 percent of GDP today to
      almost 16 percent of GDP 25 years from now.
      That
      combined increase of more than 5 percentage points for
      such spending as a share of the economy is equivalent to
      about $850 billion today. (By comparison, spending on
      all of the federal government’s programs and activities,
      excluding net outlays for interest, has averaged about
      18.5 percent of GDP over the past 40 years.) If lawmakers continued certain policies that have been in place
      for a number of years or modified some provisions of
      current law that might be difficult to sustain for a long
      period, the increase in spending on health care programs
      and Social Security would be even larger. Absent substantial increases in federal revenues, such growth in outlays
      would result in greater debt burdens than the United
      States has ever experienced.
      (pdf warning)
      http://www.cbo.gov/...

      If we do nothing, Social Security benefits for seniors will be cut by 25% in 2035.
      Does that sound to you like we can sit and do nothing?

      “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

      by skohayes on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 03:12:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the solution is crushingly simple, and has already (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a2nite

        been pointed out a gazillion times:

        raise the fucking salary cap.

        We don't have to bomb the village in order to save it.

        •  It takes a really sick, twisted person (0+ / 0-)

          to lie about cutting Social Security benefits for poor, elderly people, right?

          What kind of hell hole did these people crawl out of?  Where do people so cruel and dishonest get the idea that they're Democrats?

          It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. FDR

          by Betty Pinson on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 03:35:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Cutting benefits is not the only solution (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, brae70

        to a temporary demographic bulge.

        My grandfather was born in the 1880's.  Social Security wasn't enacted till the mid 1930s yet he was still receiving Social Security benefits when I began paying payroll tax in the '70s.  Boomers have supported both the WWI (who were not paying into Social Security for much of their working years) and the WWII generations.  You can't just not support us because there are a large number of us.  

        And I am fed up with the Democratic Party acting like we're a bunch of old geezers leeching off young people.

      •  No, its not necessary (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, a2nite

        First, its wrong to assess the situation during an extended period of high unemployment, which temporarily depresses contributions to payroll taxes.

        Full employment and a higher minimum wage will go a long way towards fixing any longevity issues.

        Second, if, after fixing the problems above,  additional funding for the Trust Fund are still called for, there are other options that don't involve cutting SS payments to low income seniors.

        What kind of asshole Democrat would recommend taking money away from elderly people (mostly women) who are trying to get by on $800 to $1,000 a month.  

        You want to take money away from that pitiful little amount of cash?  From people who are living on a fixed income and don't have the option of earning more money?

        WTF is wrong with you and others like you? What kind of sick people are you?

        It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. FDR

        by Betty Pinson on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 03:30:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What kind of an asshole (0+ / 0-)

          Would think that a 6% cut in benefits is worse than 25%?

          “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

          by skohayes on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 03:41:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The hardest role for us as liberals to accept (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus

    is to always be the outlier - those pulling the corporate Democrats to the theshhold of equality - economic, domestic, and civil rights.

    I've earned the scar tissue I have from those fights. If I'm totally accepted among the leadership of the party, I think  Ben Masel would haunt me if I did.

    Those who fought the war in Afghanistan won it. Get them out of Afghanistan NOW . . . It's long past time. Those who want to wage the next war in Afghanistan are condemned to lose it.

    by llbear on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 03:18:34 PM PDT

  •  We won? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rhauenstein

    With Obama begging for cuts to Social Security and Medicare because they are the "right" think to do, I thought we lost.  

    Since his second term is a rerun of his first term, my guess is that 2014 will be a rerun of 2010.   If less dedicated mid-term Democratic voters have already had their Social Security and Medicare cut by Democrats, why bother to vote?   Hard to comprehend that "Democrats" are going to send Granny and Vets the bill for the war and the banks.

    What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

    by dkmich on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 03:28:50 PM PDT

  •  Just a couple of days ago . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hamletta

    I was pointing out to my wife that I think (at least some in) the GOP had recently read Markos first book. The talking heads of the right (especially Reince "Odious Little Weasel" Priebus) were saying that they need to do away with purity tests and be willing to accept candidates that didn't necessarily agree on every issue. They are figuring out that they need to elect more folks . . . even if they cannot fulfill their entire wish list on governance (italicized because they have no idea what that really means). Sadly for them, their party has devolved into one where purity tests are the order of the day. It is easier for Democrats because we can field candidates who can win - even if we may not be pleased with their votes on every issue (for example, Joe Manchin) - while the GOP primaries are dominated by ideologues on issues such as abortion and taxes. More and better Democrats!

    When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and the purity of its heart. - Emerson

    by foolrex on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 03:48:46 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the (near) longterm perspective. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    We on the progressive edge have had to eat a great load of unpalatable platforms, smiling through our gags, but were able to convince a lot of our partisans that listening to the majority of Real (i.e. actual) Americans was a winner.

    It will be interesting to watch how the GOP deals with their "screamers."

    Republicans represent both sides: the insanely rich and vice versa.

    by Crashing Vor on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 03:52:15 PM PDT

  •  Commenting only for the Dean photo (0+ / 0-)

    God, I miss Howard.

  •  As someone who lived through (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, blukat

    Nixon, Reagan, Bush 1 and 2 I am not amused by what is going on in the republican party. Because it could be dangerous. The tea parties are completely out of control. But I am satisfied.

    Here in Arizona there is a bumper sticker one sees often. And there are several different takes on it. It either says,

    Gun control means hitting the target, or

    Gun control means using two hands

    My point is the republican party in 2007, 2008, and 2009 thought that they had a secret weapon in the Tea Parties. Well, yeah, but talk about gun control, they didn't control that secret weapon very well. In fact they missed the target entirely and shot themselves in the foot. So instead of 'fessing up' and admitting a gun fail, they took the secret weapon and shot themselves in the other foot, and hand, and ......................

    Knowledge is Power. Ignorance is not bliss, it is suffering.

    by harris stein on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 03:59:45 PM PDT

  •  Love this good analysis by you, Kos. It's why I (0+ / 0-)

    come here to read. Always look forward to reading your honest and witty to the point barbs on the bigger picture, I think you pretty consistently nail those quite well. Thanks again, for the good analysis, it makes my popcorn taste better.

  •  Remember Lee Atwater? (0+ / 0-)

    He was one of the early big successes as a Republican rat fucker  Willie Horton ring a bell for anyone?  

    Atwater famously noted that, in politics, "when your opponent is self-destructing, just get out-of-the-way."  

    Physics teaches us that, at some level, we must change the observed simply by observing it. So, maybe I'm not getting completely out of the way, because I am studiously observing the GOP breakdown that Kos describes.  I see all the trend lines as remaining negative for the GOP, which, until it becomes something other than what it is today, will continue to endure electoral disappointment, as they increasingly fall shorter and shorter, year after year, to the point of no greater than regional significance.

    Using stellar cosmology as a model, it is the fate of red giant stars to pass through an end of life phase as white dwarf stars. Likewise, the modern GOP, which during the height of the Gush/Cheney hegemony, dominated a red giant American political map. But as GOP supporters shrink down to a portion of mostly Southern angry white folks and their fellow travelers, the GOP will mostly shrink to regional influence in parts of the South and Southwest. Like the very stars, the GOP is evolving before our eyes from red giant to white dwarf.

    Aren't you glad that the clueless won't get a chance to run the country again, just yet? Yeah. Me too.

    by LeftOfYou on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 05:13:26 PM PDT

  •  How about chained CPI? (0+ / 0-)

    We seem to have a real split on defending social security from cuts.  Why? This issue should unite us.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 05:22:08 PM PDT

  •  The Democratic situation in 2005 was different (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hamletta

    - almost the opposite.

    There was a huge amount of work done after a serious analysis of what happened in 2000 and 2004. The biggest problem was that the state parties in many states were broken.

    In 2004, in a year where EVERYTHING was stacked against the Democrats, the fact is that Kerry STILL would have won if Ohio had conducted a fair election. This in spite of a shameful complicit media that condoned a character assassination of John and Teresa Kerry.

    By March 2005, a poll showed that had the election been then - Kerry would have won. Unlike Obama, who is more popular now - Bush's popularity had fallen even before Katrina. On many things where the media disputed Kerry's claims - like the fact that Bush wanted to privatize social security and various things on the wars - Kerry had spoken the truth.

    Where thr Republicans will lose if they run on the Romney/Ryan platform,  Obama, Clinton and Edwards all ran on platforms like Kerry's 2004 one. In fact Edwards 2008 was closer to Kerry 2004 than Edwards 2004. All also ran on variations of Kerry/Feingold.

    No one did more than Howard Dean to correct the problems the Democrats faced in having the infrastructure needed  to get the message out and to get out the needed votes in all 50 states.   While this was an enormous job, there was no need to reinvent the party.

    It is also not true that the centrist Vermont governor was to the left of John Kerry.  Kerry's record was the more liberal of the two.

  •  Credit where credit is due (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hamletta

    I remember how the 'pubs and the RW slime machine greeted Howard Dean's election as DNC chair with great hilarity and how more than a few Democrats were in heavy eye-rolling mode.  No one, including Barack Obama, had more to do with the renaissance of the Democratic Party than Howard Dean!

    "The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little. " --Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by jg6544 on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 05:44:34 PM PDT

  •  They have a bigger problem. (0+ / 0-)

    There system is designed to select, promote, and honor the craziest and scariest of their bunch, people who say weird shit like women can't get pregnant from rape.  

    They may have once believed that having a united front and being bold in expressing conservative ideas will move the country to their side...  But who is there that will believe that babies don't come from putting weewees in woowoos?  And even though they MIGHT, if some Republican was clever, express the same ideas in a more palatable, less bizarre manner, they would pass that guy over for some drooling idiot who they knew for sure wasn't TOO clever.

    It used to be, back in the 70s, the Democrats were the party of the Freak Show.  Now it's reversed.  These guys are like circus geeks.

  •  The owner of the kool-aid stand calls these... (0+ / 0-)

    Goo-goo Democrats.

  •  Interesting that the Republican members cry (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    about how the Dems won't "work with them" yet their own party is falling apart and it's ending up they can't even work with each other.

    I don't think they are going to be able to fix themselves. Which is fine by me. I do think those who are on the Tea Party side are going to move further away from whatever remains of the Republicans. They wanted these people in because they knew back then they were losing their ability to do much of anything, even with their "Terror Alerts" and all.

    They also invited in the Libertarians but that also is warping their agenda in where tax dollars go.

    Funny, they bled this country for the longest time, then they started bleeding their own party by inviting in those who never stood a chance on their own. All in attempts to win elections. And now it's bit them right back.

    The Democrats have rocked their own ship but I think it could be easier for them to right it then the Republicans. Way easier.

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