I’m gonna tell you about a little hunch I have. We are on the eve of a new political era. All the battles we have been fighting among ourselves? We are going to be fighting new ones soon. All this argument about why we keep losing elections (by absolutely miniscule to non-existent margins)? We are going to move on.

We won’t be seeing stuff like this from Kos anymore:

I’m increasingly convinced that the biggest intra-movement divide nowadays isn’t ideological — we mostly all agree on the same things — but generational. Old school activists view politics and the activist realm differently than new school activists (very generally speaking). Those differences manifest themselves in arguments over single issue groups, effective activism, partisanship, tone, style, pragmatism, the types of candidates we should run, etc.

New school progressives are also less tolerant of ideological orthodoxy. We don’t fall in line with the “acceptable” liberal position, frankly, because we’re not trained to fall in line. We are more likely to be educated in an economy that values “proactiveness” and “self-initiative” and “problem solving” over blindly following the orders of our boss.

Why? I’ll explain below the fold.
In our two-party system things change slowly. Over the course of the last 150 years we have seen the Republican Party go from a northern party to a southern party. In the late 19th and early 20th century we saw the country invade Mexico, Guatemala, Haiti, the Philippines, and Cuba, then turn strongly isolationist, then intervene in World War One, then become extremely isolationist again, then fight World War Two, Korea, Vietnam…take a break, and then launch two wars in the Middle East.

If, in the long view, our nation’s politics look schizophrenic, we must remember that each era lasted a long time, usually ten or more years. And each era came to an end with an exclamation point: the Stock Market Crash, Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima. Or in the case of the sixties, a series of exclamation points: the JFK assassination, the Civil Rights Act, the Vietnam War and the 1968 Democratic Convention.

Since 1968 the dynamics of the two major parties have changed dramatically. In nominating George McGovern the Democratic Party alienated the hawkish wing of the Party (the Richard Perles and Paul Wolfowitzs). The Party also set itself up for a crushing defeat in 1972.

In 2004, the party refused to take that risk again, and it nominated a man who would not repudiate the war. There will be endless debates about whether nominating Kerry prevented an anti-war candidate from winning, or whether he fought to a near draw and prevented a 1972-like catastrophe. Whichever is the case, just as in 1973, the party is looking around and trying to figure out what went wrong. Everyone has a theory: Kerry lacked charisma, or convictions, or didn’t fight, or the election was rigged, or Edwards was ineffective, or the media was biased, or the party was too centrist, or the party was too liberal.

Maybe Kos thinks the party is too fragmented and too concerned with turf battles and pet issues. Maybe other people think the party isn’t standing up for its core principles.

In 1973, a scandal broke over the Watergate tapes. All the hand wringing and self doubt of the Democrats was left behind in the single-minded pursuit of bringing down the law-breaking thugs in the White House. By the time Nixon resigned, his second term was nearly half over. But in the 1974 elections the Democrats cleaned the Republicans clock, and brought in 75 new Democratic members of the house. The GOP brought in seventeen.

And what happened?

One of the most dramatic moments of the 1970s took place in early 1975. The congressional elections of 1974 had brought in a large class of freshmen who had campaigned on the theme of reforming government and changing the way that Congress operated. One of the primary goals of these “Watergate Babies” was to show that committee chairs were the creatures of the parties and not vice versa.

After forcing Ways and Means Committee Chairman Wilbur Mills to resign from his chairmanship following a scandal with a famous Argentine stripper, the Watergate Babies demanded that senior chairmen appear before them and justify why they should retain their posts.

Television reporter Roger Mudd said that it was “the ultimate indignity” for senior chairs to be required to do this. Congress would “never be the same again,” quipped one legislator. When three
chairmen, Edward Herbert, W.R. Poage, and Wright Patman did not provide satisfactory answers, the caucus moved to unseat them. The New York Times editorial page boasted:

“The House Democrats have now ended the tyranny of the committee chairmen and introduced majority rule as the principle ordering their affairs.

The removal of powerful committee chairmen in 1975 was a landmark moment in the history of America’s Congress.
link (.pdf)

The Class of ’74, aka the Watergate Babies, didn’t succeed in stamping out corruption, or in building a new sustainable majority for the Democratic Party. But they did permanently change how Congress is run…and for the better. They took on the entrenched power structure in Congress and they put a Democratic president in the White House two years later.

We are the kernel, or the nucleus of a new class: The class of ’06. While the DLC putters around the fringes, polling on how to frame a national message that will sell in the heartland, we have been calling this Bush regime and their congressional goons a bunch of lawless thieves and transparent crooks. We’ve been exposing their lies every day for several years. And when the hammer comes down on this administration in the coming days, we will be vindicated, and it will be our mantra to clean up government that will have the high road. All this talk of ‘framing’ health care and women’s rights for the common man will be irrelevant. It will be time for the progressives to once again stand up strong and begin the process of leading our party out of the hinterlands.

DeLay, Frist, Rove, Libby, Cheney, Bush… they’re nearly finished. Their revolution is about to get mired down in the mud of their own hubris and corruption. It will be up to us to lead this country out of the morass. And we will have the opportunity to do so.

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