More and Better Democrats

As the state legislature meets in special session to reinstate I-747′s irresponsible one-percent annual cap on growth in regular local levies, I’d like to remind members of the Democratic caucus that the rallying cry of the progressive netroots — “More and Better Democrats!” — has two clauses. So while the leadership may safely if cynically gamble that bloggers and other grassroots activists would never dare threaten their majority over something as petty as, well… getting totally fucked… individual members should not feel so secure.

Yes, the modern progressive movement is still in its nascent stages, and yes, I agree with Carl that it is not yet clear that we have the strength in numbers, resources or influence to successfully primary a Democratic incumbent… but that doesn’t prevent us from trying. The state House in particular is in many ways a shit job that doesn’t pay nearly enough money to do it right, but it would be all the more shittier if incumbents faced a serious primary challenge every two years. All that fundraising, doorbelling, coffee klatches and boring, boring meetings… it doesn’t leave much time to earn a decent living, let alone enjoy your family. See, we don’t have to actually win a primary to be effective. We just have to make the incumbent’s life miserable.

Clearly the governor has no qualms about screwing her party’s progressive base, a political miscalculation mired in a profound lack of understanding of what it is, exactly, the base actually does. (Hint: we don’t just vote.) But our local representatives, who are, theoretically, more in touch with their constituents… they should know better. I’d wager there isn’t a legislative district Democratic organization in Seattle that would endorse reinstating I-747, and yet I’d be surprised if a majority of the Seattle delegation didn’t vote to approve the governor’s plan. I’ll be counting. And I won’t be the only one.

Oh, it’s not like most of us progressive activists would ever abandon the party, or refuse to cordially work with representatives who cross us, it’s just that I want to make it absolutely clear that those who accuse bloggers like me of being “tools of the Democratic Party” have it exactly backwards: the Democratic Party is our tool, and we intend to use it to enact our agenda. And that’s how it should be.

I know there are many who are disheartened by the Democrats’ ill-advised capitulation on I-747, but it only makes me more defiant, and even more committed to the cause of “More and Better Democrats.” In presenting the history of the phrase, Daily Kos diarist Major Danby sums up the mix of passion and political pragmatism that drives our movement:

I see support for the motivating principle of “More and Better Democrats” as being a lot like the commitment to freedom of speech: it is most important when it is hardest to justify.

It’s easy to support free speech when things are going your way, when nothing offensive is being said, etc. Most people can do it, across the political spectrum. It’s easy to profess because it’s meaningless, it’s ineffectual, it’s cheap words. What matters is how much you support free speech when it’s hard, when it means being confronted with something offensive. [...] That is when free speech is most in danger; that is when you just have to take a breath, buckle down, and do it.

It’s important to believe it then — to believe that when we get tackled we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and get back to work — because it is at that exact moment when support for the principle is in greatest danger. It’s when people are screwing us over, acting like the “Republicrat Party,” that we have to tell them that there is nothing they can do to keep us from making sure that, ultimately, we will not only have enough Democrats to keep the other side out of power, but enough good Democrats to enact our own agenda.

In Mozambique’s drive for political independence from South Africa, the slogan was “A Luta Continua” (“the struggle continues.”) In the Spanish Civil War, it was “¡No pasarán! (they shall not pass)” Of course, often they do pass, and the struggle often continues for decades or more. But the battle cry — for us, “More and Better Democrats,” meaning “we will keep on doing what we are doing until we defeat you” — sustains the movement. Yes, it involves a willful suspension of disbelief, it involves the prospect of complicity with those who fail us. But those, I submit, are better than ironic detachment or self-immolation, because in our world there is nowhere else to go. We need more and more people on our side. Better and better ones.

Given the political reality, there is only one way to enact a progressive agenda in both Washingtons: more and better Democrats. It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick, but our goal is nothing less than seizing control of the Democratic Party and putting it back in the hands of the people… people who are willing to use a legislative majority, and not just build it. More and better Democrats, that is what we are fighting for, and those Democratic representatives who don’t fit the bill will eventually have to start looking over their shoulders.

Comments

  1. 1

    uptown spews:

    Uh Goldy, not every Progressive agrees with you. Property taxes need to bought under control before we can get real tax reform.

  2. 2

    spews:

    Uh Uptown… then why not use this as an opportunity to fight for real, progressive property tax reform, instead of this regressive attack on the ability of local taxing districts to fund themselves?

    Really. I’ve been pushing this issue since 2003. I actually wrote the property tax homestead exemption legislation. I walked the halls of Olympia getting Republicans and Democrats alike to sign on as cosponsors. I’ve testified repeatedly before the House Finance committee.

    This was an opportunity for real reform, and the Dems blew it.

  3. 4

    Willis spews:

    Take a look at the primary against Sen. Prentice. She’s due for replacement, and her support of payday lending institutions is suspect at best, and criminal at worst…

  4. 5

    spews:

    My Dear Goldy,

    Thank you for articulating a strategy to create more and better Republicans.

    Trying to push moderate and centrist Democrats to the left will result in (1) the defeat of some of them, and (2) the conversion of some of them to the Republican Party.

    Many of the Democrats you target, while liberal on social issues, are increasingly pro-business, if not conservative, on many tax and fiscal matters. Canididly, while neither of us may like it, they represent probably the thinking of a majority of Washington voters, the netroots, DailyKus devotees, and HA Happy Hooligans don’t.

    To attack them is to sew the seeds of your own destruction. As you do it, savvy Republicans, like Dino Rossi, will discretely come in and pick up the pieces of the mess you make.

    Politics born of anger never wins (ask Howard Dean), and a revolution always feasts on the bodies of revolutionaries.

    The Piper

  5. 8

    Puddybud spews:

    But Piper: politics born of anger get you the position of titular head of the Democrat party, DNC Chair. The real head is Markos Moulitsas. Well, per him at least.

  6. 9

    ivan spews:

    Guess what, Goldy. Piper is right and you are wrong.

    I’m not talking about what *should* be. I’m talking about what *is*, and what is likely to be.

    Democrats are making gains in Legislative Districts where the constituency is not “progressive,” does not *want* to be “progressive,” is not Seattle, does not *want* to be Seattle, and is not obliged to be.

    They just want some relief from the worst excesses of Piper’s dysfunctional, incompetent, kleptocratic, on-the-take, reactionary, hidebound, bigoted, and ignorant party. That doesn’t mean that they want to be like you, think like you, or legislate as you might have them do.

    You know as well as I do that I am on the ground working for the same things that you are working for. Unlike you, my mouth does not write checks that my ass can’t cash.

    Netroots this, netroots that! Bla bla bla! How about getting active in your home District organization and shaping up your Dan Satterberg-loving “progressive” state Senator and your charter-school-loving State Representative? Your other State Representative kinda likes those payday lenders, you know. Why don’t you take *her* on? I’ll sell tickets for that one!

    Tell us how that works out, and maybe then you can tell us how you’re going to shape up the rest of the state.

  7. 10

    My Goldy Itches spews:

    There is no more guaranteed path to a Republican majority than for the Democrats to raise taxes.

  8. 11

    spews:

    Ivan @9,

    That is, of course, exactly what I am suggesting is coming. Seattle does not have the delegation it deserves. Our goal, ultimately, is to change that.

    Speaking of which… you had the opportunity to seek office, yet backed out. Why?

  9. 14

    Dave Gibney spews:

    For Whitman County, 1% is about $37,500 which doesn’t even fund one cop or one snowplow driver.
    It doesn’t even come close to helping with the various demands of the Healthcare increases or the unfunded mandates put on Eastern Washington Counties and Towns.
    I’m very disappointed in the rush to pander to Eyman and Rossi.
    She still has my vote, but I’m not as likely to work as hard for her re-election after this.

  10. 15

    spews:

    @7…Goldy…

    I do…then I wait for my stomach to settle.

    Do you, though, think through the reasonable, logical, and easily discernable and foreseeable consequences of the strategies you articulate? Frankly, they smack of a “my way or the highway” attitude, which also has a “I’ll take my ball and go home!” about it.

    You seem to presume that the netroot/DailyKus/HA POV is some sort of “silent majority” (How Nixonian of you! I thought only HRC embodied the Milhous Manifesto) waiting only for the right leadership. Were that the case, Prop 1 would have passed instead of getting crushed in a landslide, Bill Sherman would have been elected instead of getting decisively whipped, and Tim Eyman’s remains would be hanging rotten at the city gate.

    Alas…tis the other way round!

    Instead of demanding everyone move to you, maybe it’s time you moved to them? After all, your post yesterday describing the brutally grim and physically uncomfortable life style you lead (How did you flavor your gruel this morning? With candle wax or lard?) isn’t likely to attract many adherents.

    While I’m thinking of it…with holiday gift giving upon us, it’s incumbent to ask what size hair-shirt do you wear? Some of the HA Happy Hooligans might want to pick you up one or a dozen when next they visit Flagellations R Us.

    The raging attitudes, frothy-mouthed fury, and bitter-bleating fulminations of the fringe left won’t get you anywhere; anger isn’t a strategy, in politics it’s just wasted emotion.

    If given the choice, voters opt for the smiling candidate over the one so full of himself he’s pissed because he’s not catered to. Better the guy who looks like fun than the one who’s sure to be a pain in the political ass.

    While your strategy may play here, at DL, among the netroots and DailyKus, and, perhaps, the 43rd Legislative District, around the circuit all it’s going to do is make you enemies of those who currently tolerate you.

    You can’t say you haven’t been warned…in a friendly way :~}

    The Piper

  11. 17

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    “See, we don’t have to actually win a primary to be effective. We just have to make the incumbent’s life miserable.”

    Frankly, Goldy, I don’t think this would be an effective strategy — not to mention it won’t endear you to the party’s power brokers.

  12. 18

    ivan spews:

    Oh, stick it, Piper. Nobody in Seattle is going to be defeated for voting against Eyman. Quit pretending that it is otherwise.

    Gregoire has assured her re-election, the Dems will gain in the House and the Senate in ’08, and we’ll get a circuit breaker in 2009, once voters around the state realize that they benefit from it. Four more years of Gregoire prosperity in WA while the rest of the country is scrambling to recover from the Bush disaster, and we’ll have a graduated income tax, too.

    Just because Goldy and some of his buddies think this is the end of the world does not make it so. The voters like your lot a whole bunch less. People want stuff *done,* and your lot isn’t going to do anything.

  13. 19

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    While I’m a big fan of free speech, I’m an even bigger fan of GOP tactics of intimidation, retaliation, and repression. They work! That’s why we should adopt them. We need to get off this high horse of being better than they are — and behave just like them! When they kick us in the shins, we should kick them in the nuts! Free speech for Ann Coulter and Jonathan Gardner? Hell no, when we get in power, we should pass an ex poste facto sedition law and throw them both in a concentration camp and hang them!*

    * Just kidding! I’m ripping off Republican humor here. It gets them big applause, so I thought I’d try it to see if it works for me, too!

    HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR

  14. 20

    spews:

    goldy, my sweet, sometimes you just make me howl with laughter! thank you. this was especially humorous :”Clearly the governor has no qualms about screwing her party’s progressive base, a political miscalculation mired in a profound lack of understanding of what it is, exactly, the base actually does. (Hint: we don’t just vote.)”
    no…you don’t just vote [most of the time according to records you don't even do that] you EMBARRASS.. that’s what even gregoire [who is as politically savvy as roadkill] gets…and you don’t.besides…do you really think she is worried about offeding about 2,000 idiots? hey, even she can add sweets…….

    “progressive base”.
    ohmygod…that is too funny. in your dreams ….it doesn’t exist. unless you are the “base” of an upside down pyramid.

  15. 21

    RonK, Seattle spews:

    Does “better Democrats” mean “less representative Democrats”?

    Or does it mean “more enlightened Democrats”, who know better than The People what The People should have?

    Government for the people has its virtues.

    Government of the people has its virtues.

    They don’t always lean the same way.

  16. 22

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @15 “Frankly, they smack of a “my way or the highway” attitude, which also has a “I’ll take my ball and go home!” about it.”

    Republicans do it, so why can’t Goldy? Why should Republicans have a monopoly on “take it or leave it” politics? Republicans want a monopoly on every fucking thing.

  17. 23

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @5 “To attack them is to sew the seeds of your own destruction. As you do it, savvy Republicans, like Dino Rossi, will discretely come in and pick up the pieces of the mess you make.”

    How’s your party doing at the polls lately, crackpiper? Your statewide candidates seem to consistently garner about 38% of the vote. Not exactly what I’d call a going political concern …

  18. 25

    headless lucy spews:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....01690.html

    Republicans and especially Democrats overestimate the conservatism of the American electorate.

    “Convinced that this is fundamentally a conservative nation, Ford demanded that Democrats unceasingly inch toward the right or risk electoral irrelevance. As then-DLC official Ed Kilgore put it in 2005, “If we put a gun to everybody’s head in the country and make them pick sides, we’re not likely to win.” But we who live outside the D.C. bubble — in all 50 states, in counties blue and red — were hearing voices at odds with the Washington consensus. People wanted real choices at the ballot box. And given the disastrous rule of the Bush administration, they wanted a Democratic Party that stood tall and pushed back like a true opposition.”

    Keep the faith, Goldie. You’re on the right track and our weak sisters in the Democratic Party are on the wrong track.

  19. 26

    michael spews:

    The 26th is a suburban swing district and we’ve got Derek Kilmer, Pat Lantz and Larry Seaquist representing us. All of which are good solid progressives.

  20. 29

    Right Stuff spews:

    This is pretty funny.

    Clearly the governor has no qualms about screwing her party’s progressive base, a political miscalculation mired in a profound lack of understanding of what it is, exactly, the base actually does. (Hint: we don’t just vote.)

    The Gov is just respecting the vote of the people regarding 747. And she could care less about the fringe netroots becuase she knows the sheep will vote for anyone with the D after their name…..a la Pope (Goldycrat for sure)