The Problem With The DLC

There has been a fair amount of talk about the demise of the DLC of late. Ed Kilgore's take, cited by Joe Klein, whose column was all wrong on the subject, is a good one. But Ed ignores the political problem with the DLC - its incessant attack on Democratic partisanship. Today in WaPo, DLC Chairman Harold Ford, Jr. co-authors a column that exemplifies precisely what is wrong with the DLC philosophy. Instead of arguing for Democratic ideas, Ford and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley falsely portray Democrats as out of the mainstream:

With President Bush and the Republican Party on the rocks, many Democrats think the 2008 election will be, to borrow a favorite GOP phrase, a cakewalk. Some liberals are so confident about Democratic prospects that they contend the centrism that vaulted Democrats to victory in the 1990s no longer matters.

The temptation to ignore the vital center is nothing new. Every four years, in the heat of the nominating process, liberals and conservatives alike dream of a world in which swing voters don't exist. Some on the left would love to pretend that groups such as the Democratic Leadership Council, the party's leading centrist voice, aren't needed anymore.

But for Democrats, taking the center for granted next year would be a greater mistake than ever before. . . . With an ambitious common-sense agenda, the progressive center has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win back the White House, expand its margins in Congress and build a political and governing majority that could last a generation.

What in blazes are they talking about? On what issue is any Democrat arguing for ignoring swing voters? Why does the DLC insist on negatively caricaturing the progressive BASE of the Party? This is precisely why no one wants the DLC anymore. It is not their stands on any particular issue. It is their insistence on bashing the Democratic Party. The simple truth is a Democratic organization can not be based on espousing anti-Democratic principles an dbeing anti-Democratic Party. And that is what the DLC chooses to be. That is why it is obsolete. More.

In their entire column Ford and O'Malley discuss precisely ZERO issues. They instead do the work of Republicans by falsely and unfairly labelling the Democratic Party and its stalwart base.

Could they be talking about withdrawal from Iraq? Sorry DLC, the CENTRIST position is, and I should know as I am a Centrist, for withdrawal as soon as possible. The DLC advocates for the FarRight posiiton of staying the course. That is certainly bad political and policy advice.

Could they be talking about FISA? Is the DLC advocating giving up our civil liberties to the most inept Administration in history? Is the DLC arguing for trusting Alberto Gonzales? That is a Far Right position.

Are they arguing against universal health care AGAIN, as they did in 1994? Well that is certainly a Far Right issue.

Actually, it is hard to understand what the supposed point of this column is. If Ford and O'Malley can write:

Most Americans don't care much about partisan politics; they just want practical answers to the problems they face every day. So far, our leading presidential candidates seem to understand that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. That's why they have begun putting forward smart, New Democrat plans to cap and trade carbon emissions, give more Americans the chance to earn their way through college, achieve universal health care through shared responsibility, increase national security by rebuilding our embattled military and enable all Americans who work full time to lift themselves out of poverty.

Calling this agenda New Democrat don't make it DLC. The major gripe the DLC seems to have is on Iraq, as I see Iraq is not mentioned. Well the DLC is the Far Right on Iraq so they may need to find a new Party if that is their beef.

But I think their beef is in being found out and ignored and ostracized. But the DLC does not even understand why this has happened. The major problem the DLC has is that they do not act in tune with the D in their acronym. Al From has led them to where they are now and Ford and O'Malley seem intent on keeping them there.

< Another Debate About Women in the Blogosphere | 1996 Redux on Wiretaps: Is Anybody Listening? >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Another DLC'er has dropped out (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Zappatero on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 08:33:33 AM EST
    In NY-29 Eric Massa will have a straight shot now. The DLC'er who came in and thought he could steal the work Eric did in 2006 saw the light. I hope they all do.

    You obviously have the right idea (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by andgarden on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 08:40:21 AM EST
    Letting the DLC dictate what constitutes centrism is to no one's benefit but the Republicans. Better to be a partisan Democrat and a centrist.

    I have never been that schooled on the (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 08:46:09 AM EST
    DLC.  I have an understanding of their origins but how they evolved into what they are now isn't something that I kept up with.  I had too many children irons in the fire then to stay politically current.  I guess you could say I was raised by yellow dogs, maybe you had to be one to get any Democratic candidates in office in Colorado.  I grew up on Pat Schroeder and Gary Hart though and it is probably my exposure to them and growing up in a state under their tuttelage that has shaped my views of where the Democratic party has resided and points it in the direction that it needs to develope in my opinion.  My conscience will not allow me to be a registered Democrat right now until combat missions in Iraq are fini unless it is to defend a population against genocide, I am the swing voter now that the DLC argues that partisan Democrats are losing.  Hope someone please lets them know that they lose my swing vote by not being partisans at this point.  One size does not fit all, one philosophy will not serve in all occassions and under all circumstances.  You're pretty tenacious about defining a current winning Democratic platform and you aren't afraid to fight ferociously for specific possibly controversial planks.  I admit to not realizing this about you until now.  It is a job that someone must do though or the Republicans will do it for us and that hasn't led to much happiness and prosperity for average America of late.  Thanks for taking the job, it comes with no guarantee of worshippers so I'm glad that that fact doesn't always bother you ;)  The most incomprehensible thing for me that the DLC leads me to believe it's goals are a stay the course objective in Iraq alongside rebuilding an embattled military.  Do they really think that human beings and Americans can be that soulless?  What is left of our military are the die hards, the people who know that some base of a military must survive this fiasco of Iraq......there may be fresh recruits out there that comprehend this as well and they may join under those circumstances but it will never be enough to rebuild an embattled military!  And it shouldn't be!  This is a war of choice based on lies and nobody wants to die for this!  Do they really think that Americans are so soulless that they will just sign up by the thousands to go die in a war that by most measures is actually an illegal war that we can never declare one?  Just because America won't be able to declare it an illegal war doesn't mean that most average Americans don't GET IT that it really is!  What do they think they'll rebuild this embattled military out of, thin air? immigrants? mercenaries?

    As you pointed out, the article by Ford et al does (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 09:20:11 AM EST
    not mention Iraq war. Do you have a link to an official DLC position on ending U.S. occupation of Iraq? Thanks.

    Quick, check of DLC.org reveals the answer to (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 09:29:23 AM EST
    my question is "no." Farm policy: "yes." Bash Jimmy Carter: "yes."

    I know that when I'm feeling (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 09:46:15 AM EST
    small and insignificant a little Nobel Peace Prize bashing always perks me right up ;)

    Tracy (1.00 / 1) (#21)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 11:38:52 AM EST
    Jimmy Carter has done more to hurt the Demos than probably any other single person.

    The Repubs are hopeful you continue to display him like a crown jewel.


    Now THAT'S funny, Jim (5.00 / 3) (#24)
    by Dadler on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 11:45:47 AM EST
    Carter has ZERO impact on anything to do with the Democratic party.  Go find a poll or any research suggesting that Jimmy Carter, thirty years after being president, is hurting the Dems more than anyone.

    Ridiculous.  But quite funny.


    He's just a little confused... (none / 0) (#27)
    by Edger on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 01:03:37 PM EST
    "Carter" sure is a funny way to spell "Bush". ;-)

    And he meant the GOP (none / 0) (#28)
    by Edger on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 01:04:01 PM EST
    Any links to recent polls of how people in the U.S (none / 0) (#22)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 11:42:19 AM EST
    currently view former President Carter? Seems like his reputation has improved immensely in the last couple of years.

    Guess they aren't all that worried about the (none / 0) (#11)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 09:52:14 AM EST
    extensive coverage of Jimmy and Rosalyn building those houses.

    One problem, not ::with:: the DLC, (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Edger on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 09:38:27 AM EST
    but a problem they have now, is that they are getting scared. Finally.

    Hopefully this means they are a short step away from realizing that the Democratic presidential and congressional chances are jeopardized if the Democrats don't defund and end the Iraq occupation and rollback the FISA Amendment?

    Jul 31, 2007

    ...the party's most influential centrists met Monday to call for more pragmatism and bridge-building.
    Many of these politicians warned Monday that Democrats risk blowing their chance to regain the presidency in 2008, and failing to win a long-term majority, if they present a face to the public that is too angry in tone. They also warned that, despite the broad unpopularity of the Iraq war, there is a risk that candidates will position the party as insufficiently committed to protecting national security if they push for too precipitous an end to the war.

    edger (1.00 / 1) (#23)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 11:43:46 AM EST
    Whether the Left believes it or not and no matter how often BTD and Markos proclaim it, the "netroots" are not in the center of American life. You are the "Left."

    But please continue to think that winning a few very close elections in '06 is meaningful beyond the fact  that the Repub base sat out.

    That won't happen in '08 and the professional Demos know it.


    alive and well (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by dorothy on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 10:58:44 AM EST
    The FISA vote tells me the DLC is alive and well and trying to install Queen Hillary to replace King George.

    If Harold Ford knows so much about winning... (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Avedon on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 07:25:52 AM EST
    ...how come he lost?

    Ford lost the progressives - and the real center - with all his right-wing positions.

    O'Mally would have had to work very hard to lose Maryland against a Republican in '06.  But if he keeps sticking to the DLC and writing articles like this, I see a successful primary challenge in his future.

    These guys have no business lecturing us about how to win elections.

    But that's the funniest thing about the stuff the DLC says: They are always talking about what we "must" do to win elections for Democrats, and then they accuse us of partisanship.  Like electing Democrats is more important than caring about the policies.  But then they say the only reason we support our positions is because they are popular and therefore we support them as political calculus purely for winning elections.

    They'll never admit that we support those positions because they are popular with us, too, for the same reasons they're popular with the majority of Americans - that is, because they are better policies.

    Heh. (1.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Gabriel Malor on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 10:10:55 AM EST
    BTD, your incomprehension comes from a fundamental disagreement over your premise:

    Why does the DLC insist on negatively caricaturing the progressive BASE of the Party?

    Progressives like to think they're the base of the Democratic party. They also like to think they're centrists--which is not too hard for them, given that they spend all their time talking to each other and validating each others' views. But the very characterization "progressive" was meant to set you apart from others.

    Ford and others simply deny your premise. You're not the base; you're just a group of likely voters who have a larger 'net presence and more visible political organization than other Democratic constituencies.

    First sentence is mystifying. (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 10:17:08 AM EST
    He means (none / 0) (#15)
    by Edger on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 10:20:43 AM EST
    his own incomprehension...

    I thought it meant BTD doesn't comprehend (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 10:24:55 AM EST

    Heh. I don't think he really (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Edger on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 01:14:44 PM EST
    has any idea what he means. His confusion comes with the territory.

    Ford can deny it all he wants (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Edger on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 10:19:48 AM EST
    CBS News/New York Times  Poll. July 20-22, 2007
    Polling Report

    "Do you support or oppose legislation that would set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. combat forces from Iraq by next spring?"

    Support - 55%      
    Oppose  - 43%      

    "Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the situation with Iraq?"

    Approve - 25%    
    Disapprove - 69%    


    Oh? (1.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Gabriel Malor on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 10:24:38 AM EST
    Edger seems to think that support or opposition to the war is the defining characteristic of a progressive. I suppose all those Republicans who jumped ship on the war are "progressives" now, too?

    Dear me, how could it be otherwise? (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 12:59:37 PM EST
    Progressivism (1.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Gabriel Malor on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 01:41:33 PM EST
    Thank you, Militarytracy for demonstrating my point.

    Leftists have been in such a rush to claim the label "progressive" that they've forgotten that it has existed for quite some time and is associated with its own political ideologies, none of which relates  to an adherents' support for or opposition to the Iraq War.

    As amusing as it is to watch you all apply the label "progressive" to every leftist thought that crosses your mind, I should in fairness direct you to what is at least a start to understanding the principles of progressivism.


    Gabe, thank you for your help (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 01:53:17 PM EST
    It really saves me steps and I appreciate it.

    Progressivism historically advocates the advancement of workers' rights and social justice.

    And the Iraq War is a social injustice and therefore no real progressive advocates the Iraq War or stay the course for any kind of social injustice!


    Heh heh. (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Edger on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 01:56:41 PM EST
    Unless you have really tiny feet be careful they don't get stuck in your throat, Gabe...009 Heh. :-)

    009 was my cat walking across the keyboard, btw (none / 0) (#34)
    by Edger on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 01:58:47 PM EST
    Probably so, if only they voted the same way (none / 0) (#18)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 10:25:48 AM EST
    they talk.

    Sorry Gabe (none / 0) (#19)
    by Edger on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 10:42:17 AM EST
    Putting words in my mouth only makes you look like you're putting words in my mouth.

    The mark of intelligence is the ability to make reasonable distinctions.

    Try harder.


    I don't if you are aware, (1.00 / 1) (#25)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 11:45:52 AM EST
    but Bush isn't runnuing in 2008.

    True for those who never supported him (5.00 / 2) (#35)
    by Repack Rider on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 04:45:24 PM EST
    Bush isn't running 2008. e.

    Only in spirit.  The albatross hanging around the necks of every GOP hack who supported his unpopular policies will have George's name on it.

    Will Iraq be an issue in 2008?  Then Bush is on the ballot.


    DLC (none / 0) (#1)
    by nellieh on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 08:03:39 AM EST
    Don't be surprised if the DLC, made up of either election losers or election advisor losers, do their best to cause deeper fault lines within the Democratic Party. They still think it was they rather than the DNC that won the Congress in '06. They showed their true colors when they attacked Dean after the election for not giving more money to 'their' candidates when Dean had a VERY SUCCESSFUL 50 STATE STRATEGY!! Something antethical to them because he controlled the money. Not them. They sure as hell tried to take complete credit until the BASE jumped their sh*t. The DLC has access to corporate media and corporate lobbyists now but when it becomes clearer who can REALLY goose the Democrats in the streets, they will lose them too.

    DLC (none / 0) (#2)
    by nellieh on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 08:10:11 AM EST
    P.S. Ford is another child of privilege put in because of his family. He certainly is Republican lite in my book. We have differences about almost every issue especially religion. I think it has NO place in government as a REASON to pass or deny legislation or to elect a candidate. A candidate isn't called on to give a sermon or give absolution or "save" anyone from "hell."

    Name calling (none / 0) (#10)
    by koshembos on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 09:51:47 AM EST
    The DLC is trying to maintain its fast disappearing relevancy. One would not expect any different from any organization. Big Tent intensity is commendable, but the dispute is actually minimal. It's also more tactical than strategic. After all, the DLC wants to represent the mainstream, which it has no right to, and Big Tent says: today I actually almost represent the mainstream.

    The crime I cannot forgive is publishing in the Washington Post Bush's unofficial mouthpiece.

    Considering the DLC's past with (none / 0) (#30)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 01:31:58 PM EST
    the Democratic party and the 2006 election I can't honestly call what is taking place minimal verses intense.  It seems to be a very organic happening but we do need to realize that we need not feel any desire to save those from themselves who blatantly break the laws of survival, physics, and the jungle.  Progressive are kind decent people who often have difficulty not lending aid to those hip deep in alligators even if they own and bred the offending jaws gnawing on them.