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Dem lobbyist to left blogosphere: generate money and shut your piehole

Here’s a real bottom-line statement from a Democratic lobbyist, and it speaks volumes:

“The bloggers and online donors represent an important resource for the party, but they are not representative of the majority you need to win elections.”

— Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist who advised Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.

You have to read this WaPo piece, Blogs Attack From Left as Democrats Reach for Center, which is where the above shite quote came from. I’ve been talking about this crap for a good long time now re: gay rights — they want our queer bucks and our silence and endless “patience” as they tilt the party rightward.

This dishonesty was barely hidden beneath the surface during the 2004 race and, as you can see from the above quote, it’s out there stark naked before us now as the 2006 races heat up. This “bend over, you’ve got nowhere else to go” mentality is as bad as the Right’s plan to drag out the gay boogeyman again for this election cycle.

As a progressive, the feeling of being continually used in this manner makes my blood boil because it expands to so many issues we’ve thought about as core values of the party (e.g reproductive freedom, the environment, the economy, social justice, etc.). The Dems are publicly abandoning (or hiding from) anything resembling novel thinking in their quest to become Republican-lite. They’ve decided that learning how to frame core issues is just too much work for them. Just water down the GOP playbook a tad and (hopefully) slide into office.

As you can see, weasel Elmendorf (who, by the way, is also an openly gay man) and the rest of the tired Democratic infrastructure in Washington hates the lefty blogosphere overall, except as a tool. The establishment is just that — established — and they want to stay that way, rocking no boats, sitting on new ideas generated from the netroots.

These folks cannot handle the level of public scrutiny, instant analysis and questioning about the quite obvious lack of risk-taking coming from those in leaderships roles in the party. They do not like to be called out to explain what core issues they stand for, because they know today’s core value is about as firm as the next focus group or poll of the NASCAR set. Blogs expose that duplicity, and that’s what has the spineless elements of the party riled up.

These activists — spearheaded by battle-ready bloggers and making their influence felt through relentless e-mail campaigns — have denounced what they regard as a flaccid Democratic response to the Supreme Court fight, President Bush’s upcoming State of the Union address and the Iraq war. In every case, they have portrayed party leaders as gutless sellouts.

…The blogs-vs.-establishment fight represents the latest version of a familiar Democratic dispute. It boils down to how much national candidates should compromise on what are considered core Democratic values — such as abortion rights, gun control and opposition to conservative judges — to win national elections.

Many Democrats say the only way to win nationally is for the party to become stronger on the economy and promote a centrist image on cultural values, as Kaine did in Virginia and as Bill Clinton did in two successful presidential campaigns.

The new twist in this debate is the Web, which in recent election cycles emerged as a powerful political force, one expected to figure even more prominently as more people get high-speed connections and turn to the Internet for news and commentary. Unlike the past, the “pressure is conveyed through a faster, better organized, more insistent medium,” said Jim Jordan, a Democratic strategist.

Any Dem politician who toes the Elmendorf line should not get a dime from anyone in the netroots. Period. If all we represent are money-machines and virtual foot soldiers, I call bullsh*t. No more of that. If a candidate cannot make civil equality or the protection of reproductive freedom a core value that they are willing to publicly defend, then what is the point of being a Democrat? What good does it do to win an election if the politician cannot stand up to the wingnuts, or worse, votes on our core issues just like a wingnut so it can be touted in their next race? The end result is the same to those of us directly affected by the cowardice.

Jim VandeHei, in the WaPo article, accurately portrays the netroots left as being in the same state of the right wing of the Republican party back when its influence was nascent.

The closest historic parallel would be the talk-radio phenomenon of the early 1980s, when conservatives — like liberals now — felt powerless and certain they did not have a way to voice their views because the mainstream media and many of their own leaders considered them out of touch. Through talk radio, often aired in rural parts of the country on the AM dial, conservatives pushed the party to the right on social issues and tax cuts.

Blogs and online communities provide an effective way to counter party drift, in some ways, in other ways the influence is minimal. The progressive wing may be out in the wilderness for now, but don’t expect us to stay silent (or allow ourselves to be fleeced) any longer.

Sorry for the above disarray, it just all spilled out because of the rage.


Shakes Sis posts on yet another example of the problem. Dem Senator Barak Obama is the latest to get a queasy tummy about the prospect of a filibuster.

I know there’s a big chance of a filibuster backfiring because the Dems will be tagged as obstructionists and, quite frankly, they haven’t done enough work in getting out the message that there are very good reasons to filibuster Alito on behalf of voters. And I agree that the best way to ensure that rightwing douchebags don’t get nominated to the Supreme Court is to win elections.

But, on the other hand, part of what the Democrats need to do to win elections is reassert their commitment to liberal values. Yes, the media proactively supports the GOP, which makes it infinitely harder for the Dems’ message to get out, but the Dems need to share some of the blame for being seen as a mixed-message party. They have largely supported the war and the Patriot Act, they allowed Bush to claim bipartisan victories on some big legislation like the bankruptcy bill and bipartisan support for many of his nominees, including Alberto Gonzales, Condi Rice, and John Roberts, and many of the most prominent Dems are public triangulators, like Hillary Clinton, aligning themselves with such conservative legislation as flag-burning amendments. At some point, the Dems are going to need to take a stand against the GOP and their attempt to obliterate all liberal principles and actors from governance. Filibustering Alito’s nomination is drawing that line in the sand. Or at least it should be.

And Shakes Sis responds to my post here.


John at Americablog opposes the filibuster, and I understand his reasoning; it’s hard for me to muster up any energy for the fight either. It’s frustrating.

All the efforts now at the
Netroots are struggling because because of Dem inaction and lack of preparation when the battle for SCOTUS has been clear from the outset. Continuing the theme here, we need better leadership in the Democratic party and in the advocacy groups that are only interested in the status quo. We aren’t going to get core values back on the table by playing nice — and we’re not just talking about the Alito battle. John (my emphasis):

Far too many in the Netroots think that the choice before us is fighting for this filibuster or doing nothing. And in the grand scheme of things, they’re tired, we’re all tired, of sitting back and watching the Democratic party do nothing. Therefore they’re excited to at least try the filibuster because at least they’re doing something. I hear ya.

…But, you need to recognize that those are not the only two options available to us. There’s a third. Destroy the Senate Democrats who did nothing to launch a REAL campaign to convince the American people that Alito must be defeated. Destroy the traditional non-profit advocacy groups who took our millions of dollars and did NOTHING to launch a real campaign to win the public to our side. And go after the rich donors who continue to enable these failed Democratic politicians and these failed advocacy groups like some addict who only needs one more fix, then promises he’ll get better. If we do not go after them, if we do not force them to change or get out of the way, the same problem, the same failure, the same ineffectiveness will continue to plague our party and our movement, with no change in sight.

We have a choice. We have the ability to make change in our party. We have the power to make the Democrats stand up and fight like real Americans for real principles in a way that shows how fierce and tough and committed we can be.

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Pam Spaulding

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