The Need for Upheaval

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.

Tags: Chuck Schumer (all tags)



I was very impressed with Schumer

under the Alito and Roberts hearings, where he attacked both without showing any mercy.

So he's not completely worthless...

by Populism2008 2006-04-03 08:56AM | 0 recs
Schumer likes to take Credit for what other

Dems Senators have done it is a real problem with him. The Senate dems. call it being Schumered.

by Liberal 2006-04-03 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Schumer likes to take Credit for what other

In the House it was known as being Schumed.

by John Mills 2006-04-03 07:22PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Challenging someone like Schumer seems like a fool's errand, as opposed to challenging Lieberman.  While both are prodigious fundraisers, Lieberman has a tired image that is not wearing well, while Schumer is in his prime.  Schumer may be a narcissist, but there is no evidence he personally is as out of touch with his constituency as Lieberman.  In short, this talk is very premature and not likely to get the netroots a bigger role in the Party.

Kevin Phillips is right, of course, but what the netroots and progressives need to be doing in 2006 is building some credibility by building infrastructure, honing the message, and helping win some elections, not prematurely indulging revenge fantasies for some years hence.

by Mimikatz 2006-04-03 08:56AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

 ... there is no evidence he personally is as out of touch with his constituency as Lieberman.

Does helping to recruit Tom Suozzi to run against Eliot Spitzer count?

by Scott Shields 2006-04-03 09:03AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Spitzer has a reputation for narcicism and self-importance, too. He's been a strong AG, but in some ways, it's similar to Schumer's position - he attacks the bad guys, but there are times when folks aren't so sure he isn't a little bit self-serving in the choices he makes while doing it.

by redsoxkangaroo 2006-04-03 03:59PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Cite, please?

by MHS 2006-04-03 05:31PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Chuck (who is not one of my favorites) is the energizing bunny and visits a different part of the state virtually every weekend.  Suozzi is a big mistake on his part but he is not going to be put in a position like Lieberman where he appears out of touch.  He is so into local politics he attends the swearing ins of almost every new member of the NY City Council and State Legislature.  Unless something changes, challenging him is a fools errand.

by John Mills 2006-04-03 07:27PM | 0 recs

...but what the netroots and progressives need to be doing in 2006 is building some credibility by building infrastructure, honing the message, and helping win some elections...

ABSOLUTELY CORRECT! And THESE FOLKS are making it happen. Lend them a hand, won't you?

by dabuddy 2006-04-03 03:01PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Let's put a positive spin on it--let's hope there's a Dem President in 2009 who will kick a whole bucketful of Congressional Dems upstairs to cabinet positions and ambassadorships.

Of course there are many clowns who have worn out their welcome. Jim Moran needs the boot--that he hasn't received a credible challenge speaks volumes about the state of this city. Ditto Steny Hoyer. There's no reason we need to put up with clubby accommodationists in libeal districts.

by KevStar 2006-04-03 08:56AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

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.

if replacing machine-sensitive, Center/Right Dumbopcraps with 'prog's' is the only way to save the country, i/you/we might as well be packing and selling, cuz it AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN, and i/you/we are gonna need a new place to live...

by Konopelli 2006-04-03 08:57AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

"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."

Matt, astute characterization of Schumer IMHO, and money quote from Phillips. I've thought of this analogy a lot as well.

Big difference between GOP in '60's and Dems in '90's and now: where are the interests of capital and the moneyed/"investor" class?

The Goldwater insurgents who pushed out the Rockefeller Republicans gradually (and by '80, indelibly) coud count on one thing: money. Many such "philanthropists" willing to put money behind such a movement were quite wealthy: after all, the Randian philosophy animating Goldwater's people was very much in line with their goal of maximizing wealth accumulation.

On the other hand, proper social democrats simply cannot count on such funding and, alack of such funding, are doomed to the wilderness given the brute force of money, which shapes the American political system at virtually every level federally and in most states, and some counties and cities as well.

Given the dominance of monied interests in campaigns, thereby assuring their viewpoints are prominently displayed in the positions and propaganda of BOTH parties, do you seriously believe that there's a chance the Dems can be reformed in the same manner as the GOP (after a fashion to be sure) was reformed in the '70's?

by redstar66 2006-04-03 08:58AM | 0 recs
It took several election cycles

for the Goldwater movement people to pull their party rightward.

They did it by mounting primary challenges and building infrastructure.

Some primary challengers won, especially as time passed.  Others pushed their establishment opponents to the right, while gaining valuable campaign experience and building organizations.

We can do the same.  But it won't happen in one cycle.

That's why we need to begin to scout out potential '08 candidates now.

by Pachacutec 2006-04-03 09:07AM | 0 recs
Re: It took several election cycles


But those guys had money.

We don't.

by redstar66 2006-04-03 10:04AM | 0 recs
Re: It took several election cycles

In most cases, we don't need to match their funding to win or compete.  The open-source funding method is still developing, and as we get better raising early money (very potent), more institutional money follows.  Money will move toward power.  It always does.

Montana, though idiosyncratic, has been a case in point, and Lamont is pioneering a new grassroots funding model, though he has his own money to spend.  How many potential Lamonts might be out there if we show them it's possible to run without DSCC money?

by Pachacutec 2006-04-03 10:20AM | 0 recs
Re: It took several election cycles

I agree money migrates to power, but I don't see this as doing anything for us. We can win a battle here and there but the war has been made unwinnable. Both parties, not the GOP, are beholden to money and not the grassroots kind. Why do you think Schumer is going to the committee of his dreams? And let's be serious - Schumer's not going to be picked off by the netroots - it's an open question about Lieberman even.

While money goes where power accumulates, power tends to reflect the viewpoints of those who have accumulated money. Capital = power, so in some ways the formulation you posit reflects a distinction without a difference.

Monied folks don't like it when they are forced to recognize rights; case in point healthcare. In all OECD countries save the US, the fundamental human right to health care is respected and in many cases constitionally enshrined. In the US, the pinnacle of the rights of Capital in the West, of course this is not the case, and this is not accidental. Monied interests have in each stage of the battle to force respect of this right decisively interjected themselves into the political battle. Unsurprisingly, the US Health Care system, a right everywhere else, is simply another market mechanism to extract profit from the toil and misfortune of others.

So while the money will flow to where nominal political power appears to be accumulating, it is doing so for a reason: to ensure that the interests of accumulating classes are respected by those to whom tribute is flowing. For why else would it flow? Certainly not, on balance, philanthropy.

One thing is for sure: nowhere on the planet have monied interests willingly accepted the rights of average citizens. Each advance in our rights as citizens has been painful and, in many cases, bloody. Imho, it is also remarkable that most advances have come not via the liberal democratic process, but as the direct or indirect result of periods of upheaval, These upheavals are nearly always brought about by prolonged and persistent failures of the civil society as neglected by the interests of capital, eg the invisible hand of the market economy. These upheavals have taken the form of prolonged economic slumps or depressions and war, both of which are part and parcel of the system commonly described as "bad, but the best known to mankind to further prosperity".

First it was basic human rights, the right to life (much of the commons battles centered around this; eg, there's a reason there was so much immigration to the US when commons areas were expropriated for monied interests), liberty (abolishing slavery, droit de cuissage, etc), and property that needed to be demanded and gotten. This was usually accomplished violently or as a result of violence (ie when the State had become weakened enough through violent conflict with other States to be forced to respect these rights)

Then it was more evolved rights of general conditions of life, of civil recognition of certain rights of citizenship, of suffrage, of freedom from religion, of the right to an education and so forth.

All of this continued to evolve nearly everywhere in the West, though unevenly. In some cases, advances have even come relatively peacefully (Canada, Sweden, Switzerland)

In one spot, the development has lagged.

There is a lot of work to be done.

Problem is, money gets in the way, it isn't working on our side. Hope I'm wrong and you're right in this matter, but history generally doesn't support your view. And this sure ain't Canada.

by redstar66 2006-04-03 01:19PM | 0 recs
well until we get public campaign financing

based on your post, I expect you'll be getting out of politics, because everything is futile anyway?

The rest of us will be fighting.

by Pachacutec 2006-04-03 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: well until we get public campaign financing

Nah, I just strongly suspect it is futile.

I hope I'm wrong and I do what I can, still work as precinct chair, do my share of lit dropping and sending money to candidates I like, but I got a sneaking suspicion we're pissing in the wind.

We should, however, look for ways to best capitalize on the next opportunity for change, because I also strongly suspect that opportunity is not as far off as some would think. And I also suspect the Democratic party, if still configured as it is now, will not be an ally in that fight. So one must build bridges to remain credible when the time comes.

Again, I hope I'm wrong on this, in more ways than one, and I keep rolling that rock up the hill. But end of day, it would be stupid not to prepare for the day when there's no more rock to roll.

That's just the way I see it.

by redstar66 2006-04-03 02:16PM | 0 recs
Re: well until we get public campaign financing

It's not that it's futile, just that we shouldn't ingnore the benefits of having people on our side who can raise money. Politics isn't pure and it will never be pure - but we can have influence and push things the way we'd like them to go.

I'm wishing Chuck Schumer all the success in the world this year - and if he helps bring home 4 or 5 Senate seats, I'm all for him getting on whatever damned committee he wants.

by redsoxkangaroo 2006-04-03 04:13PM | 0 recs
Re: well until we get public campaign financing

Well no, but a solid recognition of the fact that the far-right GOP insurgents had money whereas we do not is still valuable.  Once you know that, you can find ways to plan around it -- like emphasizing alternative mass media, or maybe alternative networked media, or just finding a secret supply of very liberal capital (like San Jose).  It also means you do start laying the groundwork that you'd need to pull off a Hoover-->FDR type transition, because the last time we really won anything, it was because a cataclysmic event gave us the opportunity to win a term or two and then prove that our crazy talk really worked.

Anyway, there's nothing wrong with admitting that there's certain advantages we don't have.  Unless there's a need to bluster cause an outsider's looking; in that case carry on.

by texas dem 2006-04-03 07:34PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

I really like Schumer, and think he is quite liberal.  I definitely wouldn't call him center-right.  I've always seen him strongly speaking out against Republican policy.  He visits every county in NY (I've seen him speak twice), and his fundraising ability is a good thing.

As for finance committee being his dream - well that's not a great thing really.  But I really like Schumer, and hope he keeps up what he's been doing.  I hope he stays in the senate, and keeps up his work.

by John Nicosia 2006-04-03 09:02AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Wow.  Why do you like him?  Why do you think he is "quite liberal."  Seriously, Id be interested to know because you probably follow him closer then me.  In my mind he is nothing but a semi-conservative hack.  But, again, maybe Im being unfair because I cant give any specific examples.

Where was he on bankruptcy (the cloture vote and final passage), on trade, fair taxation, health care, etc.  Do you have any more specifics then I do.

by Andy Katz 2006-04-03 11:25AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Be careful. Asking for specifics is dangerous around here. It might require people to (gasp) think.

by bluenc 2006-04-03 01:04PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Schumer is not right of center.  If you look at his voting record in both the House and Senate, he votes left of center.  He is hawkish but pretty good on domestic issues.  I am not sure where he was on bankruptcy but he was vocally against Alito and Roberts, opposed all of Bush's tax cuts, support Clinton's budget in 1993, was a tremendous defender of Clinton during impeachment, etc.  It's Chuck's personality, not his voting record, that is the problem.

by John Mills 2006-04-03 07:35PM | 0 recs
Schumer and the DSCC....

as if we needed another reason not to give to the DSCC.

by Arthurkc 2006-04-03 09:07AM | 0 recs

Where did this article appear?  The link above leads to the Phillips' quote -- not the article itself.

by jonm 2006-04-03 09:10AM | 0 recs
by Scott Shields 2006-04-03 09:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Link?

I think more people need to read this article before they comment and misinterpret Matt's post.

Ask the question:  is this DSCC approach likely to expand the strength and base of the party over multiple election cycles?

by Pachacutec 2006-04-03 10:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Link?

Who knows?

If we pick up three or more Senate seats...yes, that could have many positive effects in state elections for years, having Democrats at the top of the ticket, hopefully having popular Democrats in positions of prominence as US Senators...

I understand the reluctance to embrace Schumer, who is in fact quite self-serving.

But he isn't a DINO by any stretch of the imagination, and if it wasn't for him, we wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell of retaking the Senate.

Rebuilding the party infrastructure is Dean's job, and he's doing it very well.

Schumer and Emanuel's jobs are to retake Congress, now, first, right away, by any means necessary. And frankly, based on candidate recruitment, I think they're doing quite well, too.

by brownsox 2006-04-04 06:11AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

I'm not sure it's correct to refer to Schumer as a "center right" Democrat. All the voting record charts I've seen put him middle of the pack in comparison to other Dem Senators.

by padcrasher 2006-04-03 09:25AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Also, he doesn't routinely undercut Democratic attempts to take stands against what Bush and the GOP are doing, like Lieberman does.  The problem with Lieberman isn't so much his votes, as his seeming willingness to criticize his own party - which has little power right now - far more than he's willing to criticize the party that's running, and screwing up, the country right now.

Schumer I can live with.  Lieberman ought to be kicked out of the party.

by RT 2006-04-03 09:49AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Just out of curiosity, how many branches of government do we control? Oh yeah none.  So why don't we continue our Ralph Nader purification project to make sure every democrat agrees on every issue, before we support them.

Oh yeah and better yet let's just unilaterally disarm our fund raising so we can be pure as the driven snow in the 15 senate and 75 congressional districts districts we will hold once we get rid of our funding.

Maybe, just maybe, we can feel 100% confident about the purity of our party. Who's with me!

by Full Contact Pilates 2006-04-03 09:26AM | 0 recs
I'm sure you can come up with

more straw men than that.

by Pachacutec 2006-04-03 09:39AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Lame -- try reading the post again.  And spare me your political pragmatism, it doesn't take a genius to understand the current situation regarding the Democratic party -- Matt's post merely suggests that the progressive movement become more robust in demanding a seat at the table.  Clearly no one will invite us in, so we must elbow our way in, if we're to feast at all; and, speaking of pragmatism, the only thing that party insiders recognize are power plays, thus we, progressives, must learn to carry a big stick if we're to be taken seriously at all (but, given the current situation, this ain't gonna happen any time soon).

Responses like your don't help build a movement of any sort, they merely caricature the hard, hard work that remains to be done.

by bedobe 2006-04-03 10:17AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

I love a well reasoned argument.

by Andy Katz 2006-04-03 11:27AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

I rather agree. We have a tremendous opportunity this year, and I don't want to see that opportunity blown. The Republican Congress is CORRUPT, literally. Chuck Schumer is merely guilty of liking to raise money for fellow Democrats.

I'm not opposed to progressives demanding a seat at the table, but the progressive movement needs to show that it can compete financially in order to win real power. That's the way the world turns - and recently it hasn't turned out enough money to win. Turn out the money to win, and things will change.

by redsoxkangaroo 2006-04-03 04:20PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

I hear Russ Feingold once wrote legislation with a Republican! Barack Obama took the high road against McCain! Let's find primary challengers for these DINOs!

by bluenc 2006-04-03 09:31AM | 0 recs
faulty logic

This is so unbelievably messed up.  Schumer's dream, his dream, is to be close to political donors.

His dream was to be on the Finance Committee. It's faulty logic to then make the leap that his dream was just to be close to donors.

by catnip 2006-04-03 09:34AM | 0 recs
Re: faulty logic

Who needs logic? Schumer is in Washington, D.C. Therefore, he is a neocon. Apparently, that's the way we're supposed to think now.

by bluenc 2006-04-03 09:36AM | 0 recs
Re: faulty logic

I completely agree with catnip about this.  This is very faulty logic, Matt.

Were the sole role of the Finance Committee to be close to political donors, it would be true.  But it is obvious that the Finance Committee also has other roles.

Its possible that Schumer does only care about being close to donors, but you have not made a valid argument for that here.

For the record, Schumer ticks me off sometimes (ie. Suozzi vs. Spitzer), but I like him most of the time.

by sorrodos 2006-04-03 11:13AM | 0 recs
Easier said than done
Egos make replacing establishment officeholders with progressives not such an easy task.
Witness the case of Barack Obama, once a truly progressive state senator who ran to the left of everyone else in the Illinois U.S. Senate primary and won handily.
But once elected he abandoned progressive ideals in order to position himself for higher office.  He chose people like John McCain and Joe Lieberman as his allies and restrained his own conscience in censure matters in order not to make waves.
So I think the key is not just to choose progressives, but to choose people with a sense of humility and a significant history of commitment to the progressive cause.
When you look back on Obama's relatively short time in Illinois state politics, and the bids for Congress and Senate during that brief timespan, you get the sense that it probably was all about ego.  And you feel stupid and used.
by ChgoSteve 2006-04-03 09:38AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

No kidding. Do we have the luxury at this point to go after middle of the roaders who's kink it is to get on the most powerful committee's? I'll say this for Schumer, he takes no crap from right wingers. None at all. A very admirable NY trait this Texan admires.

by padcrasher 2006-04-03 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

The only real problem with Schumer is his support of the Iraq War.  Other than that, he's an asset and I, too, like how aggressive he is when its his turn to question on the Judiciary Committee.  He goes straight at his points, so  unlike bloviating Biden.  

by Rowena 2006-04-03 11:58AM | 0 recs
The issue is top-downism

run amok, not neocon whatever.

by Pachacutec 2006-04-03 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Chuck Schumer is far from perfect, but the idea that he is "center-right" and should be targeted for replacement seriously sounds ludicrous to me.  First this board trashes Senator Obama, a true progressive even if he doesn't do everything exactly how the netroots would like him to, and now we're trashing Schumer because....because....why again?  Honestly, I think I missed that part.  

Look - Schumer is not the most liberal guy in the world.  He's also far from conservative and a good fit for the entire State of New York.  What exactly is wrong with that?  

Finally, do we really want to use Goldwater as the example of what a progressive movement should look like?  Rigidity & dogmatic reliance on doctrine are not actually virtues, whether on the political right or left...

by HSTruman 2006-04-03 09:58AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

We're after the way the DSCC runs, not after taking Schumer out of his senate seat.


by Pachacutec 2006-04-03 10:01AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

It's amazing how people seem to mistake criticism for an desire to get rid of someone in politics.

by Matt Stoller 2006-04-03 10:04AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

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.

I think it's at least an understandable mistake in this case.

by Scott Shields 2006-04-03 10:19AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Thanks, as that was the exact quote that I was responding to.  

Out of curiosity, would the folks who hate Schumer, Rahm, and the rest of the Dem leadership be content with any action outside of completely de-centralizing the Party's candidate recruitment/funding?  

I'm not saying - by a long shot - that the leadership is always right or fair in the decisions that they make.  However, I don't think the mere fact that they sometimes back/recruit candidates that aren't grassroots favorites is reason enough to label them as either failures or hypocrites.  Personally, I think Schumer is exactly the kind of leader that the Dems need.  He's smart, savvy, and not at all afraid to go right at Republicans.  Honestly, I thought people on this site would like that.  

by HSTruman 2006-04-03 12:05PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

You make a good point. The very idea behind coordinated national campaigns is that the national party structure encourages candidates to run. Sometimes these candidates are local favorites, sometimes not. There's not really any other way of running a national campaign. If you want to de-centralize the entire process, fine. But the campaign commitee chairs are just doing what they're paid to do.

by bluenc 2006-04-03 01:08PM | 0 recs
show me one place

where anyone argued for complete decentralization.

by Pachacutec 2006-04-03 02:37PM | 0 recs
Another straw man

in a thread full of many.

An argument against monopolistic top-down control is not an argument against all ecntralized collaboration and coordination.

Why are so many smart people here so obtuse?  Why are people so invested in black/white, binary thinking?

The ideal model would involve cooperation and collaboration, with a healthy understanding of the role decentralization plays in promoting innovation and developing new campaign talent.

I'm a corporate consultant, and I get that.  Why don't people here get that?

by Pachacutec 2006-04-03 01:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Another straw man

That's generally the way it works, though. As much as the netroots picks up on examples of "carpetbaggers" recruited by the national party, it doesn't note the countless local candidates recruited and supported by local activists and party folks. It's hard to strike a truly collaborative balance while still being efficient and effective. Also, you have to keep in mind that the national party and local activists often have very different goals. In that fight, the side with the money will always win.

by bluenc 2006-04-03 02:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Another straw man

I've been in conversations with the DSCC and the DCCC.

Trust me, they're not trying to strike a collaborative balance.

Still, I maintain open lines of honest communication, even as I am open about my agenda, and open about working to organize a movement that creates oustide the beltway, grassroots power.  The only way DC will begin to collaborate is when they see the power balance requires them to become engaged.

I don't teach negotiation to MBA's for nothing.

by Pachacutec 2006-04-03 02:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Another straw man

There's really no reason to refer to anyone here as obtuse.  I understand that the grassroots community at large wants more input.  But if you look at my post, what I was ASKING (not saying) was whether or not anything short of complete decentralization would be acceptable to some of folks posting today.  

For every "egregious" example of leadership "interference," there are countless instances where the national party does get behind a local candidate who has shown an ability to compete.  As another poster just noted, where there is friction between the national party and the local party, ultimately one side will get their way and the other won't.  That's not "binary thinking," that's just a fact.  

Now I'm not saying that the national party can't try harder to work WITH the grassroots.  In point of fact, I think that's exactly what the party should do, given the importance of having activists truly inspired by and excited about their party.  But that REALLY doesn't seem to be what folks on this board are talking about, given the way they seem to have MORE disdain for the leadership of their own party than for GWB and the Republicans.  

by HSTruman 2006-04-03 02:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Another straw man

That really is what the folks on this board are talking about.  We would much rather have alignment with a reasonable party, because everyone would win.

But that alignment does not exist today, and it is not because the netroots/grassroots folks are hard to reach.

What's more, that collabration will not occur by the grassroots asking nicely.  It will happen when we demonstrate power, develop candidates and create a progressive movement with strong foundations that must be heard and reckoned with by the party.  Primaries are the ways these things get done.

by Pachacutec 2006-04-03 02:35PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

The DSCC exists to raise money. That's how they encourage candidates to run - "Hey, we can help you come up with the dough to be competitive," etc. The exact right person to have in Schumer's DSCC role is someone who can pull the big checks out of people, build a war chest, and push candidates in close races over the top.

I don't know what percentage of MyDD readers have ever worked campaigns, but the overwhelming concern of a campaign is to be able to compete and to move poll numbers with television - the other stuff is all important too, but if you can't compete on television, you can't define yourself to the electorate, defend yourself, and attack your opponent. So you lose.

A major key to making progressive candidates competitive is going to be having a strong central institution with access to money. Ned Lamont isn't just competitive because progressives are giving him $50, he's competitive and taken seriously because he has a giant pile of money in the bank that he can draw on to communicate with voters.

When the progressive movement figures out how to direct MILLIONS of dollars at candidates and campaigns, the progressive movement will become a larger force in the Democratic Party. But until then, the forces with the money will talk because they are the ones who can move resources and impact elections in a big way.

by redsoxkangaroo 2006-04-03 04:32PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

I appreciate the mention of Casey as an example of what's wrong with the Democrats and I agree.  But he's only a problem if he wins and he will not win.  

After he either loses in May or loses in November the problem will be us.  If we the people aren't able to make the Dem leadership accountable for this loss, then we are useless.  Given blogtopia's refusal to discuss the PA DemSen primary, I don't hold out a lot of hope that bloggers will be leading the necessary charge.  Anything that gets done will happen on the streets probably via small wins in small races in 2007 and in a real Democrat's run (maybe Pennacchio again) at Spector's seat in 2008.  

Although if Chuck wins the primary in May, he has a good chance to beat Santorum  in November and then Schumer et al will be delivered the smackdown they so richly deserve.

by eRobin 2006-04-03 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Want to bet?

by kilb 2006-04-03 10:28AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

I thought the whole purpose is to win. The Democratic Party is too big to be pure. Not everyone can be Russ Feingold and expect to win elections (think Ben Nelson). But if we agree on most issues, why go after people who show a little independence?

Schumer is one of the most liberal men in the Senate. He has shown himself as a staunch Democrat, and has proved to be a money machine for the party. Plus, in 2004 he won with a whopping 71% of the vote. He had 3 MILLION more votes than his GOP challenger. Anyone remember the last time a Dem won with those kind of numbers, because I sure as hell don't.

Our country is huge and diverse, and not everyone is going to see it our way. Should we kick proud Dems in West Virginia or Montana out of the party because they don't see eye to eye with us on every Progressive issue?

Would it be great to have true progressives in control of the Democratic Party? Of course. But the reality is that we will have to compromise with everyone in the party, even if that means electing a few Bob Casey's into power. And progressives really want to control the party? Look at what fundamentalists have done to the Republican Party. Twenty years ago they were a small force, now they control everything, and now most of the American public is sick of them. Do we want to do that to ourselves?

by ctman1638 2006-04-03 10:33AM | 0 recs
another straw man

No one is arguing for ideological purity.

Matt and others are arguing for more grassroots involvement in the candidate selection and development process.

That's it.

Matt did not explain his ideas well, so let me jump in:  the only way to gain grassroots access and involvement in the candidate selection and devlopment process, and to end the DC consultant based monopoly on running local races (full employment act for DC consultants) is to develop and run local candidates in primaries.

All of you who are arguing that Matt is saying Schumer's senate seat must be targeted are misunderstanding Matt's post, though as Scott points out, the misunderstanding is understandable.

In fact, if you read the article, it is the DSCC that is arguing for ideological fealty, to the most conservative common denominator of the party.  Read the article:  the point is explicit.

by Pachacutec 2006-04-03 10:40AM | 0 recs
correct article link

Scott posted this above, but since Matt had the wrong link, I'll repeat it.  

This is the original article: ex.html

by Pachacutec 2006-04-03 10:41AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Thanks for posting this Matt.  You raise an important... the most important issue for progressives/liberals, and that's that the Democratic party is not synonymous with progressivism/liberalism.  Now, I won't be voting Green anytime soon -- I'm definitely a Democrat; however, it is clear that we, progressives, must start being more assertive if we expect progressivism to one day become the conventional wisdom/default frame through which policy matters are viewed in this country.  At the moment, it is clear, tacking towards the right has become the default position (note that tacking right is not limited to social issues, but must take into account our government's relation with corporate business, too), and progressivism has been so thoroughly beaten back that it will take a long term commitment and vision to revive it -- I certainly hope that from among the more established bloggers we'll start to hear a more strenuous and affirmative articulation of how we'll go about asserting the progressive ideals/agenda on the national scene.   We got a lot of work to do, even within the Democratic party.

by bedobe 2006-04-03 10:43AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

but the party machine fights VERY hard to protect their own

You hit the nail on the head. All the more reason to try to oust the guy, but I understand the rats won't go down without a fight.

by KevStar 2006-04-03 10:46AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Great post. Feinstein and Harman are the most self-defeating "Democrats" west of the Rockies.

by mildewmaximilian 2006-04-03 10:54AM | 0 recs
Harmon has a challenger!

She's Marcy Winograd, a smart, progressive, well spoken former teacher who has already garnered a host of endorsements, including Gore Vidal, Tom Hayden and Daniel Ellsberg, whom she worked for back in the day, as well as a bunch if unions.

I think Marcy has a chance, especially if she gets some backing, in this 70% Dem district. Worst case, a good run might wake Jean Harmon up.

Go to or

Just do it.

by mjshep 2006-04-03 12:07PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Kevin Phillips is a bright guy. I think he's spot on with his analysis of the inside the beltway types. The sad thing is that, with Dumbya's Cosa Nostra running the country, we (the US) can't afford the time it will take to tear the Democratic party down and build it back up. But that's probably what it's going to take.

by shargash 2006-04-03 10:58AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

This is such a classic MyDD/Dailykos bullshit analysis designed to rile up the base without providing any actual content for why everyone's supposed to hate Schumer.

In the first place, you are attributing to Schumer sentiments he has never stated.  His dream was not "to be close to wealthy donors," but to be on the finance committee.  The former part was a comment by Lizza.  There are plenty of reasons that Schumer could have to want to be on the Finance Committee besides wanting to be close to wealthy donors - influencing tax and entitlements policy, most notably.  That comment was just a slur.

As to the rest of it, I don't see what the problem is.  What exactly is Schumer being criticized for?  The geography of the Senate is such that he has to focus on making things easy for Democrats in red states, because otherwise there's no possible way the Democrats win the Senate (they basically have to hold all their seats and win all the up for grabs Republican states to get back control).  What specifics here are being criticized?

by jlk7e 2006-04-03 12:12PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

No specifics. Vague is vogue these days. Bottom line: if they're an elected Democrat not named Feingold, they're a corrupt establishment hack. Primary challenges all around! Pass the Kool-Aid.

by bluenc 2006-04-03 01:11PM | 0 recs
inclusiveness is not Schumer's job ...

... it's Dean's.  Schumer's is to win Senate seats in the current cycle with whatever tools he's got.  If the netroots field a great challenger and raise the money to back him/her up, Schumer will be on board, no doubt about it.

Contrary to one of the posts above, Schumer has no ideological fealty test.  He is trying to make sure the national party doesn't make things difficult for candidates in more conservative parts of the country -- but that's hardly something he can be criticized for.

I love this site and Matt, but this post really made me mad.  I think Matt has completely misread the Lizza piece and jumped to totally unreasonable conclusions about Schumer.  Why are we kicking one of our own?

See longer post on the related dkos thread here.

by ajsnow 2006-04-03 12:28PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

If you want political power, ultimately you have to win elections. There are very few elections that the "netroots" has won, hence it does not yet have any power. Winning elections means building coalitions unless you are lucky enough to live in an area where everyone thinks like you do. Very few of us, Republican or Democrat, live in such an area.

Republicans may be better at building coalitions such as pairing up white working class voters with financial interest Repubicans. You may say it is because of lying or dishonesty, but whatever the reason, it is working.

I will ask the question I ask a lot on these blogs. How many people posting here have (a). ran for office; (b). managed a political campaign; (c). worked for a political campaign, and/or (d) contributed to a political campaign. If you have not done any of the above, then it is hard to take you seriously as being a person who wants to bring about political change. If you have, then you know that winning political power takes more than writing clever postings on a blog.

by mrgavel 2006-04-03 12:40PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

One more thing: I have personally done all of the above and done them successfully, I might add. It is very, very hard work.

by mrgavel 2006-04-03 12:42PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Right.  The only people capable of doing a job. . . are those who have done it before.

No new talent or perspectives need apply.

Do I hear the voice of a threatened guild member?

Why yes; yes I do.

And the establishment dem campaign management guild has a stellar track record, don't you think?

by Pachacutec 2006-04-03 01:57PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

He is not saying that you wouldn't be a good campaign manager - just that the perspective on these things is different when one has seen it from the inside a few times. You'd learn things in one campaign and do them differently in the next, as anyone would.

Those of us who have done this don't think "Those bloggers are all so dumb", but we do sometimes think that folks would see things differently if they had had to earn their living figuring out how to get more votes than the other guy - and often in "Red" states.

by redsoxkangaroo 2006-04-03 04:43PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

No, that isn't what I said. What I said was that if you haven't done those things, then it is hard to take you seriously as a person who wants political reform. If you think this is so easy, then why don't you try it? Become a candidate, volunteer for a campaign, run a campaign, do something other than just post and bitch on a weblog.

by mrgavel 2006-04-03 07:50PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

mrgavel - I agree.  I sympathize with the political objectives of the netroots but you can't accomplish much if you don't win elections.  Sometimes that requires compromises and coalitions.  I think the Repubs understand this better than the Dems which is my frustration here sometimes.

by John Mills 2006-04-03 08:19PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Okay, so the only way to have a valid opinion in poliotics is to run a campaign?

Are you serious?

I do my work in the corporate world.  I am a professional when it comes to branding and business development.  

I have no desire to run a campaign, though I do volunteer support.  If I were asked to wrok for a campaign on a strategy level, I would refuse.  I prefer my independence.

The other side understands thet outsiders have a role to play in the dvelopment of a movement.  Nrquist was one, though he's corrupt, and I'm not.

Straw man after straw man after straw man in this thread.

by Pachacutec 2006-04-04 01:13PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval
Just a comment about a reference in the last paragraph to Democrats taking Power.  I really wish that word, along with "corrupt", could be relegated to the Republicans for all time.
They sought Power that has resulted in corruption in order to gain more Power. Do the Democrats really want Power??  Hopefully they want to "lead" and "govern efficiently and competently."
by annefrank 2006-04-03 12:50PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

By power I mean the ability to accomplished intended results. Under that definition "power" is neither good nor bad, that depends on the results that a person wants to accomplish. Power in the hands of Hitler is evil, power in the hands of FDR was mostly good. Political parties exist to attain power to bring about certain things. I certainly want the Democratic Party to gain power in both the nation and in my particular state. I believe that if it does, it will do things that I want accomplished.

by mrgavel 2006-04-03 01:08PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Jim Moran loves to ream the Bush Administration - he is not the problem.

by redsoxkangaroo 2006-04-03 04:07PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

I don't think you know what Centre-Right is.

If Sen. Schumer is center-right, then Barbara Boxer, Dick Durbin and Teddy Kennedy are centrists, Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold, Diane Feinstein, & Patty Murray are center-right as well, & Tim Johnson, Byron Dorgan & Jeff Bingaman are neo-Thatcherites.

by Epitome22 2006-04-03 04:20PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

More Leninism from Pitchfork Matt. Film at 11.

by blueflorida 2006-04-03 04:41PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Hopefully in 2008 Dems will control the House and we will be fighting over real issues not just who fills the seats of a mostly powerless minority.

by howardpark 2006-04-03 05:12PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

I like the analysis, but I have to defend Schumer on this one.  Its almost a job requirement for a New York Senator to be on the Finance committee, given where much of that industry is concentrated.

by Michels 2006-04-03 05:46PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Moran should be rewarded for his shoving match with Duke Cunningham.

by redsoxkangaroo 2006-04-04 05:49AM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

As to Schumer's meddling (not by his lonesome, of course) in PA's Senatorial race, there are many of us pretty damn upset about his anointing of Casey -- and not just because of one single issue (abortion).  Casey fits the bill in many more ways for Schumer's/DLC's 'move the party right' (oops, 'center') agenda.  Casey '06?  Clinton '08: include me out.

To wit, see:

The 'Quotable' Robert Casey

by seaweasel 2006-04-05 05:38PM | 0 recs
Re: The Need for Upheaval

Let's try this link again -- sorry!

The 'Quotable' Robert Casey

by seaweasel 2006-04-05 05:41PM | 0 recs


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