by Jerome Armstrong, Wed Oct 13, 2010 at 09:51:05 AM EDT
JONATHAN KARL review in WSJ of "Roosevelt's Purge," By Susan Dunn (361 pages, $27.95): "In 1936, Franklin Delano Roosevelt trounced Republican Alf Landon by 24 percentage points in the popular vote and won the biggest electoral landslide in American history. ... Yet the popular president soon found that all his political capital wasn't worth much in Congress. 'Just nine months after Roosevelt's landslide election, opposition in his own party had grown assertive, militant, and confident -- and the New Deal had come to a standstill,' writes Susan Dunn ... Ms. Dunn, a professor at Williams College, delves into a fascinating and overlooked aspect of the FDR presidency: Roosevelt's brazen effort to assert control over his own party in the summer of 1938. ... All of the Democratic senators targeted by FDR coasted to victory in their Democratic primaries. ... In the general election, Roosevelt didn't fare any better. Republicans picked up eight Senate seats and nearly doubled their numbers in the House. ... He would never again attempt to intervene in a party primary. He had learned a lesson that needs re-learning from time to time: Political purges are more effectively done by the voters, not by the power brokers in Washington."
This looks like a great book, and those last lines above certainly relay the CW of DC. But hasn't Jim DeMint, in 2010, turned all of that on its head? I look at what the conservative DeMint has done over the past year, from a caucus of 1 or 2 in the Senate, and wonder when, if ever, we will see such a move by a progressive Senator.
In a recent political panel that Chris Bowers and I were on, at the AMP summit, he addressed the question of why there are not more primary challenges, and why for those that there are (Lieberman, Halter), they are met with hostility from the DC establishment. His basic point was that a pragmaticism prevailed as the dominating ideology at the base of the democratic party, as oppossed to a conservatism that exists at the base of the Republican party.
It got me thinking about the progressive label, and the lack of meaning it has for the Democratic party. I can identify three different strands of it:
Pragmatic Progressive-- incremental approach, traditional, status quo.
Liberal Progressive-- establishment, identity and issue politics.
Libertarian Progressive-- individual and collective, radical approach.
Just reflecting on my own political involvement, its been the case that I have worked for politicians that are in the first group, while I try to fathom the thinking of the second group. Mark Warner is a pragmatic progressive, and Crashing The Gate was an attempt to move outside traditional liberal identity and issue politics via partisanship. I think its time to get more radical, and move outside the box.
OK, I won't attempt to tie the post together, it moved into a different direction than I anticipated at the onset. The nice thing about blogging is that that it doesn't matter, so there you go.
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