12 September, 2007

Ouroboros Democratica

The great alliance between the progressive wing and the Democratic Party leadership is starting to eat itself.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) is encouraging anti-war activists to find challengers to centrist Democrats, with the aim of moving the party to the left and ramping up opposition to the war in Iraq, to the chagrin of top Democratic aides.

“You folks should go after the Democrats,” Woolsey said in response to a suggestion from an activist during a conference call last month organized by the Network of Spiritual Progressives.

“I’d hate to lose the majority, but I’m telling you, if we don’t stand up to our responsibility, maybe that’s the lesson to be learned.”

Despite the heated rhetoric, the call shed light on the frustration of anti-war groups, which must work with a Democratic majority that faces limited control in the Senate, as well as a Republican president.

The activists strongly criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for failing to meet with them and not doing enough to stop funding the war. Moran pushed back, arguing that Pelosi’s heart was with them but that she was constrained by political reality within the House Democratic Caucus and the Senate.

“We’ve got too many risk-averse members,” Moran said. “[Pelosi] really is trying. She doesn’t have the votes; she doesn’t even have the complete support of some of the leadership.

“If you heard the caucuses that are not public and could hear the arguments that she makes to sway some of the conservative members, I think you’d be much more impressed with her.”
With a mere four months to go until the first of the 2008 primaries (And no, I really don't think that the middle of September is the right time to write those words.), actively encouraging a break within the party is not the smartest thing in the known universe. Lynn Woolsey is encouraging the same schism that Cindy Sheehan started with her dressing-down of Madam Speaker earlier this year, with the same misguided principles behind her.

And, incidentally, encouraging a much earlier start down the same path of ideological purity that has hobbled the GOP over the last two election cycles, with what I predict will be the same disastrous end. I've written before that demanding ideological purity out of the party is a E. E. Milne-style Very Bad Idea. I stand by my opinions even though I know that many of you, particularly my progressive readers, disagree with them. (Likewise, I know that my conservative readers are going to do handsprings whenever they think about it.) But I really did not expect to see such a singular confirmation so quickly as this.

Given the evidence at hand as to what happens when an American party insists that its members toe the rhetorical line drawn by the radical wing of the party, I can hardly believe that there are those that are actively encouraging this process, as evidenced by this comment thread at Election Central and the ubiquitous Kos diary.

If those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it, then what will happen to those who fail to remember 5 minutes ago?

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