...more on the MoveOn attacks on Steny Hoyer. But first, a hat tip to Yuval Rubinstein at the Left Coaster
, because without his notes on the Raw Story
coverage of the campaign, I might never have known.
I checked the front page at MoveOn.org
and there was a fine tribute to Marla Ruzicka
, some nice ads against the Bush assault on social security ads, news about peace vigils, opportunities for activism, a book to sell, pleas for cash, the usual. Not a hint, though, that their latest stategy for electing progressives was to dump progressive dollars into attacking the Democratic leadership.
I clicked over to MoveOnPAC.org
, their sister organization "focuses on electing progressives to national office." No luck. Nary a word to explain how attacking the Democratic Whip elects progressives.
So it's back to the Raw Story story, where MoveOn PAC Washington director Tom Matzzie had a lot to say. Like...
"We want to send a message that if you walk away from the Democratic Party [as] leader, then we’re going to ask our members to get involved in your district, your hometown."
"It’s probably okay for some Democrats to disagree with their party… but it’s never acceptable for a leader in the party… to disagree with the rest of the party on an issue connected to core values like justice for middle class values, especially when it’s such an obvious Republican bill."
Nice of Matzzie to allow as how those Democrats might be permitted some internal dissent. Of course, he's disqualified himself from any kind of internal discussion by putting the Party in the third person. He even more explicit about his lack of standing in Party debates...
"We’re not the party. We are going to take positions on issues, and we’re going to be true to our members and to America’s middle class families before we acknowledge any sort of notion of Democratic fealty."
In other words, MoveOn draws the line, and if it means Democratic losses to defend that line, well, tough.
Which is fine as far as it goes, but it it clearly sets MoveOn outside the Democratic Party. If they do something helpful, well, fine, but they're just another voice in the chorus from the fringe left in Democratic policy debates. They're no longer, if they once were, a reliable ally.
Their case might have some merit, though, except that the notion that Hoyer was out of line with the 'rest of the Party' (as determined by someone outside of the Party) just ain't so, however sad that may be. There were 73 Democratic votes for the bankruptcy reform bill in the House, over 1/3 of the Democrats voting. There were 18 in the Senate. I think each and every one of them voted wrong. I think some of them probably voted for the wrong reasons. I also think that most every one of them has rationalized their vote in a way that satisfies their progressive impulses, such as they may be. That's a case they'll have to make, each of them, to their voters...or to the voters who care.
In fact, the issue never resonated outside the activist left, as far as I can tell. Last time most of those members were home, my guess is questions about Teri Schiavo and Social Security took up a lot more time than bankruptcy. (My measure of these things is admittedly unscientific. I'm a bartender at a neighborhood pub in a middle class neighborhood. It's my thesis that the things people talk about over beer are the things they care about. Nobody at the Cabin cared about the bankruptcy bill).
Democrats pride ourselves on maintaining a 'big tent' philosophy, for being willing to argue our cases vigorously while tolerating a fairly broad measure of disagreement. If those disagreements within the Democratic Party become the impetus for ideological purges, we will have become the people we claim to be against. Outside groups pumping resources into that kind of purge are slipping past the unreliable ally category toward active enemy status.
Yuval is "...intrigued that MoveOn has decided to test the waters in terms of its party influence, now that its fundraising and organizational prowess has been firmly established." Here's hoping they drown in those waters. Party influence? They just don't qualify.