12 November 2009

Democracy Against Itself

The Daily Kos website presents itself as a champion of progressive politics, but has long been hostile to people who believe that the best way to pursue progressive goals is to break with the Democratic party and form a new one. I learned of Kossacks' hostility to independents the hard way when I naively tried to post comments against the two-party system there a few years ago. The site is for all intents and purposes an auxiliary of the Democrats, but Kos himself signaled this week that the bond of solidarity may be cracking. He's irked that any Democratic Representatives voted against the House health-care reform bill, and his response is to advise his readers not to donate money to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Explaining his position, he states the obvious: "Their first priority is incumbent retention, and they're (necessarily) issue agnostic." Since the DCCC will distribute money to any Democrat, regardless of whether they're suitably progressive, Kos has decided that money donated by progressives to the committee is wasted. He recommends giving directly to "those elected officials who best reflect your values." Among the responses are comments gently mocking him for violating his own rules, which presumably include "don't dis Democrats."

This is an interesting development, but I wonder whether Kos and his readers will follow through on the reasoning of his article. Kos has decided that certain Democratic representatives are unworthy of his support. One may assume that he'd support primary challenges against every Democrat who voted against the health bill, not to mention every "Blue Dog." I don't suppose that's anything new, but his stance against the DCCC raises the question of what to do when the hated incumbents win their primaries. We know that he endorsed Dede Scozzafava, a Republican over Bill Owens, the Democratic nominee and eventual winner, in the famous special election in New York's 23rd District. If a conservative or too-moderate Democrat faces a similarly moderate or liberal Republican, he might take the same course next year. But what if the choice is a Blue Dog or a movement conservative, as it well might be in some districts? Does Kos swallow his pride and tell his followers to donate to the Dog to keep another conservative out of Congress? Or does he tell them to find candidates who "best reflect your values," wherever they might be? Should he encourage defeated progressive primary challengers to bolt, to accept Green or Working Families or any other endorsement that gets them a ballot line in November? If they can't tolerate Democrats who oppose progressive health care reform, -- and that sounds like what Kos has just said -- it would seem to follow that their top priority should be replacing them with progressives. If Kos and his Kossacks don't follow through, their present complaints can be dismissed as a childish sulk from kids who'll never leave home.

No comments: