Observing all of this from an outsider’s point of view… I see a lot of rage on a lot of the “lefty blogosphere” about the fact that nearly half the Dem Caucus split and decided to vote for cloture today on Samuel Alito. I see terms thrown around like listing the bunch of Dems who voted for cloture and calling them “The Capitulation Caucus”, but I dont see a lot of lefty blog leaders coming out and stating what people should do about it. Kos and John at AmericaBlog seem to be among the few putting forth the point that to avoid this, more Democrats need to be elected and thats what people should be working on.. but a lot of the readership deem that inadequate.
From my Canadian perspective, I see 2 things the blogosphere folks who are upset at this can do:
- They can try to coordinate an organized effort to run people they consider more likely to fight for their beliefs in the primaries against the Dems they consider to be appeasers and sellouts. This means doing more then just Kos and Atrios and so on calling for a primary challenge to Lieberman. It means going after all the Dems who voted “no” and to go after them all in the primaries. (A reader at Kos has listed all the Dems who voted against clture and when their bid for re-election comes up here
- People leave the Dem Party in droves and form a third option (Call it the “Progressive” Party for arguments sake) and get candidates to run for Congress. (Forget about running someone for President for now). This new Party would have to be smart about how it runs: For example, they could run against selected Dems they feel are sellouts, but in ridings where vote-splitting wont occur enough for the Republican candidate to go up the middle (probably in relatively safe “blue states” ridings) or to go after the “moderate” Republicans who always seem to forget they’re moderate come an important vote, but where Dems dont seem to do well come election day. (Running against Republican crackpots where there also seems to be zero Dem resistance would also be acceptable).
Myself, I prefer the 2nd option.. probably because I live in a country where multi-party democracy is a standard thing. My opinion is you need to forget the registering as independents or withholding the money you normally donate to the Party, as protest actions, although that certainly isnt a bad thing to consider, but you’ll need drastic action to get the Beltway’s attention, and thats as good as any a tactic to do this. It would be preferable of course if you could get some former high profile Dems (either former or current elected Representatives or prominent in the Party, or even influential “progressive” bloggers) on the left of the Dem Party’s wing to support this action.. but it may have to be a grass-roots thing.
I realize some will come on here and say its virtually impossible to get a Third Party to run in the US system that appears geared towards just 2 political parties… but it seems to be getting to the point where if the Dem leadership isnt bothering to listen to its Progressive wing (and right now, it appears to be trying to ignore it), then some alternative needs to be looked at. There are many voters in the Northeast and in the West who may just vote for a party if they are so disgusted that the current Dem Party doesnt represent their views.
Basically, the goal is to try to create a Canadian version of the NDP (though it wouldnt have the socialist roots the NDP does). If the “Progressive” Party is a threat to the Dems left flank, or even by some chance can elect enough members to hold the balance of power in Congress (balance of power meaning able to decide which of the 2 Parties controls the committees), or even by some chance do better then this, I believe the Democratic Party would be forced to respond to the threat on its left flank, just as Canada’s Liberal Party has done for 60 years since the NDP and its CCF precursor was first formed (thats how we got Universal Medicare here). I really dont think the Green Party in the US is a viable option (Nader’s leadership of it I think has more or less discredited it), hence my thesis on forming a new party instead.
Just my opinion. It appears the Republicans are trying to turn your Congress into a Parliamentary system of government, where the majority Party dictates what passes and what doesnt (and the minority Party can do little to stop it – heck… in a Parliament setting, the opposition to the governing Party is a lot more organized then your Democratic bunch), so you might as well go with the flow and elect some people who ACT like an opposition Party. The 2 options I list are the choices I see what you will need to do. It will be up to you energetic activists to decide which is more feasible.