Monday, September 29, 2008

USA Today covers Bright & Love race in AL-02

With a tip of the tam for the graphic to that great political theorist SpongeBob, I'll up front take some exception to the U of A's Emeritus Professor of Political Science William Stewart's claim that "It's a matter of survival for Democrats in Alabama to present themselves as conservatives." I'll also add that I think "The Blue Dog Democrats are a group of 49 fiscally conservative House members ..." hardly goes far enough in describing their views yet that one goes on the journalist rather than the Professor. Both are pulled from Sebastian Kitchen's Rivals in Alabama race both claim conservative tag appearing in today's USA Today.

Although I'll circle back to covering this later, I'd submit there are few if any in the folds of the Alabama Democratic Party that have tried another path to success. Racial politics of course matters in Alabama. That Big Mules run Goat Hill is another reality. Fundamentalism, or at least evangelicalism, is another certainly here in the belt of the Bible Belt.

I supported Cheryl Sabel rather than Bobby Bright yet like the idea of having even a Blue Dog take this seat. Or the 5th up in North Alabama for that matter. I've bragged on the "Bright Republican" effort. However, if Bobby Bright wants to follow the Blue Dog approach to governing or merely politicking ... well that dog won't hunt! Corporatist Canines might suffice? Or Phone Privacy Puppies? That Blue Dogs are overwhelmingly white Southerners that are rather seasoned is I hope well known. Thomas F. Schaller can tell you more in his recent American Prospect piece.

I'm not so sure I'd boot all of them out of the Democratic Party as might Glenn Greenwald yet I'll admit I often am frustrated with centrist weenies. I admittedly go after the DLC rather often yet Chris Bowers some time back suggested I ought to just go straight after the Blue Dogs. In fact he shows Bud Cramer was the most problematic of the Democratic Party's problem children at that point in the 109th Congress. I have little patience with Bu$h Dogs yet soon he'll be gone.

I also can accept that at times party discipline requires some discipline. A "whip" to enforce party loyalty doesn't have to be a Tom "The Hammer" DeLay rogue yet can still allow consequences to those not playing team ball. If we have an Obama administration with gains in Congress and the chance to change the Courts then I'd be prepared to put the Blue Dogs on a very short leash.

Left in Alabama has a nice thread following RedEye's The Lessor of Two Evils or The Enemy Within? I personally like the idea of working past labels. I hope Progressives can align with even the most "conservative" to craft decent if not good policy. "Movement conservatives" aren't interested in compromise of course. Fusion/coalition politics also seems to be a way forward on the national, state, and local stages yet there's no point in wasting time with the true believers.

Despite all of the above, I feel some empathy with RedEye's frustrations. I also don't always feel like the Democratic Party, in DC or up on Goat Hill, is looking out for regular folks. But I want to flip "conservatives" to our side of the mix, at least on some issues. And here's a stream of consciousness type look at how that might occur ...

Following the money from think tanks to actual candidates to ... helps. The right has truly bought a movement and to peel back the layers is hard work but it must be done.

Trying to expose how values voters get used by the Big Mules seems a worthy effort. You've got to be careful in doing this yet it is long overdue. To offend a few Christianists for the sake of our future is worth the harm.

Challenging journalists and media outlets for sloppy or downright sorry reporting is a good use of time. In Alabama, from to talk radio options, there's a long row to hoe yet the work must be done.

Populism is another winner, despite what Thomas Schaller suggests. Civil liberties seems another. Opportunity seems foundational. Shared prosperity resonates with I think many voters. As does environmentalism (labeling it "stewardship" for instance) I'd argue. Protecting people from harm is attractive to all but the most reactionary. Is tolerance and respect really all the difficult to have voters embrace? Rebuilding our deteriorated infrastructure can be attractive to all but the most strident "conservative".

Reasonable regulation might seem even more reasonable given the Wall Street meltdown. After Enron and ... we let the GOP off the hook way too easily but surely this time our "leadership" can get this one right. Honesty and transparency seems so simple yet we've left this one out of the mix all too often.

Taking on "conservative" foolishness is another way to gain back the high ground. When the Mobile Press-Register or Alabama Policy Institute or ... go off on some twisted effort to advance a conservative agenda Progressives ought to push back.

We can't count on the leadership here to always do this pushing back yet as we try to change the party that might change. Working on the outside is required yet to gradually gain influence within the Democratic Party here and in DC makes sense.

Governor Dean's Fifty State Strategy and ActBlue and ... efforts are helping Progressives gain some ground in Red States. Networking is becoming all too easy via technology yet having actual races to work is priceless.

We'll need to identify and develop young talent. The care and feeding of young activists is certainly one area where we've been outflanked.

Blog, read, learn, write, advocate, talk, share, collaborate, compare, refine, regroup, ... Progressives have lots to offer our world. Stand up straight and show the backbone required to win anywhere but especially in Alabama. No weenies allowed! John Gunn

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