…or how I learned to stop worrying and love the K Street Project.

This morning’s David Sirota post on ethics/reform opportunities for Democrats (rah-rahed here) makes a compelling case that both state and national Democrats can make big gains by aggressively and publicly trying to clean up the lobbying process.  But he doesn’t address a more fundamental cause for Democratic optimism: the success of Republican attempts to destroy us.

[I assert my basic sanity below the fold]
I’m talking about the K Street Project, an ongoing campaign, begun by Tom DeLay.  The basic goal of the K Street Project is to extort lobbyists into exclusively making financial contributions to Republican candidates and committees, and it has met with much success in the last few years: hundreds of DC lobbyists have stopped buying off Democrats and have started to pay extra to buy off Republicans.  The Project has leveraged similar tactics to intimidate political services firms and other organization which had in the past done business with both parties.

The immediate effect has been that Democratic elected officials are increasingly left out in the cold, without access to campaign money and institutional levers for keeping themselves afloat in national politics.  Oddly, if you’re a Democratic voter, this is an unmitigated good.

Here’s what the hell I’m talking about: DeLay and his homeboys (along with the BCRA) are increasingly creating a climate in which Washington’s dirtiest money cannot get to Democrats, and one in which Republican-leaning firms and corporation can’t hedge their bets by giving to Democrats as effectively.  

Clearly, it hasn’t worked perfectly.  As the recent bankruptcy vote showed, there are still corporate-controlled Democrats.  But on the whole (especially given our emergent hard-money machine) this dirty money is a much smaller percentage of Democratic receipts than it was in the 1990’s.  

In really crude terms, Republican arm-twisting is effectively lowering the asking price for the progressive grassroots to buy off the Democratic party.

What we’re seeing happening is not that they party is bankrupt (as DeLay had planned), but that it is now supported much more directly by its voters.  There will be countless races in 2006 in which it really is the case that the GOP candidate is 100% corporate-owned and the Democrat is 100%, um, not.  The more natural this contrast begins to seem, the more that a progressive message of economic populism will not only resonate with voters but also produce real results.

But the bottom line for 2006 is that DeLay is getting what he wants: one party that stands with multinational corporations, and one party that stands for mainstream Americans.  Frontier PAC would like to thank Tom DeLay for helping to forge and codify the partisan contrast which has created the Reform Democrats.

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