The latest begging letter from the Vice President continues the paradoxically non-partisan tone of Democratic fundraising so far this year. Joe Biden is writing on behalf of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which, like its House counterpart, has set a bizarrely exact goal for the first half of 2011. The committee's "critical goal" is exactly $842,195, to be raised by July 15. Biden says that "there's nobody you'd rather have on your side than the DSCC" because "it recruits terrific candidates, helps Democrats build strong grassroots field programs, and levels the playing field against special interests."
Who those "special interest" are has become more vague than ever. "When we're facing challenges this monumental," Biden writes, "there's no time for partisan politics." The challenges in question don't include the $842,195 fundraising goal. Instead, the Veep explains, "We want to tackle big issues like the debt and our energy policy." He emphasizes that "we want to keep listening to the best ideas from both sides, working with Democrats and Republicans alike to move the country forward." You've just read the only reference to the Republican party in the entire letter.
So who are Democrats running against next year? Biden explains that "some of today's politicians have a different plan. Instead of working with us to better the future, they're trying to bring us back to the past." That sentence has a familiar ring; it's a theme sounded in much of the Democratic begging of recent months. Also current is a marked reluctance to name the enemy. That's a major departure from last year, when, if anything, Democrats were running as much against the "Tea Party" as against Republicans. In Biden's letter, the TPs are mentioned one less time than the GOP -- that is, not at all. There's not even the usual scare rhetoric about menacing right-wing donors like the Koch Bros. or schemers like Karl Rove.
As I've speculated, focus groups (or exit-pollsters) must have told Democrats that voters and potential donors resented the negative alarmist tone of the 2010 fundraising literature. That's the best explanation I can come up with for the "non-partisan" approach of the 2011 appeals. But in a way, the Democratic begging campaign is Bipolarchy in its purest form. If people complain about "partisanship," it must be the other party's fault. Biden doesn't have to say that explicitly, but it's not as if people are going to blame excessive partisanship on the Greens or the Libertarians. For each party of the Bipolarchy, the two-party system exists so that partisanship itself can be blamed on the other, and its own failures can be blamed on the other's partisanship. Today's Democrats express that idea in almost abstract form, as if partisanship (as practiced by the opposition only -- but only some of them) is the real problem confronting the country, but can be beaten by donating to a political party. But the Democrats would never rid themselves (or us) of the "partisan" enemy, because then who would they blame when their policies fail?