The Need for Upheaval
by Matt Stoller, Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 08:29:50 AM EDT
Ryan Lizza wrote a great article on Chuck Schumer. It's a portrait of the most extreme version of a Reagan Democrat, a Senator whose core characteristic is a weird sort of intense and narcissistic cynicism.
He is, famously, the Senate's greatest fund-raiser and greatest TV hound, important qualifications for his new job. Schumer thought about running for governor this year but instead leveraged the threat of leaving the Senate to secure a spot on the powerful Finance Committee, which writes the nation's tax laws and, not insignificant, is a perch that puts him in constant contact with the political donor class. "That was my dream," he says. "I always wanted to be on the Finance Committee."
This is so unbelievably messed up. Schumer's dream, his dream, is to be close to political donors. And for those of you who wonder why Casey is a serious problem for the party, check out this paragraph:
These red-state political moves aren't just helping Democrats this cycle. They are serving as a road test for the potential platform of the party's 2008 presidential nominee, whoever that turns out to be. Democratic victories in red states this year will be seized upon by party strategists as pointing the way forward for 2008. In that way, Schumer is helping the party define a kind of centrism that, if successful, could also help win the White House.
The whole article is immensely upsetting, but not surprising. Schumer, like most center-right Beltway types, doesn't believe that principles, or the American people themselves, matter. What matters to him are TV exposure and access to donors, and that's truly it. He's a very very smart man, perhaps the smartest and savviest in the Senate, and certainly the hardest working. But I couldn't help but think of this quote, from Kevin Phillips:
Thus, the challenge for Democrats during what should be tumultuous times in the next 6-8 years is to identify the issues that matter and hammer away at their mishandling. The outsider, progressive and populist Democrats can do this, whereas much of the Democratic establishment let itself become too collusive and contributor-driven to criticize. They remind me of the Rockefeller Republicans in the 1960s who did not want to seriously challenge the existing Democratic policies but rather to make the GOP much the same with a few caveats. Upheaval came only as they were pushed aside.
Assuming that progressives care about taking power or even being relevant, it's soon going to be time to make lists of candidates who deserve primary challenges in 2008. There's just no other way to save the country.