The post by the esteemed Mr. Bogg Rob references below finds a couple more classics of the “why do rational progressives support the most progressive candidates possible rather than…something” genre in addition to Mr. Friedersdorf. First, Ian Welsh:
The reason is simple: we could not elect enough of our people. We could not instill sufficient fear. We could not defeat incumbents. We did not produce juice. Clark and Dean didn’t win the 2004 Presidential nomination. Dean was taken out in a particularly nasty fashion (via the manufactured Dean Scream.)
On a minor point, the idea that Dean wasn’t drawing dead as soon as he lost the Iowa primaries scream or no scream is exceedingly implausible. Much more importantly, the main problem with using Dean not winning the 2004 primary as the explanation for why the president and median member of Congress aren’t hard core left-wingers is that Dean is more conservative than Kerry or Obama. (He’s now working directly for health care rentiers, while at least most firebaggers are working for them only indirectly.) The Dean-was-our-savior argument is almost as bad as the Hillary-Clinton-is-the-new-Eugene-Debs argument.
After the 2006 House capture by Democrats, Pelosi’s democrats betrayed the fundamental principles that the prog blogosphere stood for: they did nothing to stop the war, for example.
Welsh, in other words, seems to look at Ted Cruz’s “defund Obamacare” strategy and sees a strategic genius rather than a grifter. Yes, it’s a real puzzle why Nancy Pelosi didn’t hold vote after vote attempting to defund the war that would have had no chance of passing the Senate or getting the president’s signature — if only crackpots with no idea how American government works had the same influence on the Democratic side!
In addition, it’s worth noting again that the goals of actual progressives and the Tea Party aren’t symmetrical. If you goal is to keep the government from being functional, a minority of the Senate might be enough. If you actually want to do things, you need majority coalitions, and these need to be won in two legislative houses in which urban progressives are inherently underrepresented, and an electoral college ditto.
I left the Democratic party after 2010– threw away the whole Gravy Train Democratic consulting gig. Sure, I didn’t like the way that my entire world got dropped. I too put some years into it. As a sort of cleansing, last cycle I went to work helping to primary some incumbents in both parties for a rich Texan PAC, and managing libertarian Gary Johnson’s internet campaign.
Real progressives want to restore the Articles of Confederation, you see. (Welsh is also a fan of this agenda, although he’s more of a Paul guy.) This is a way of vindicating Naderism — hey, at least it gave True Progressives the evisceration of the Voting Rights Act!
Speaking of which:
That’s what they are really good at– justifying why the powerful should stay so and attacking the ones who challenge power. And, if needed, providing a handy social lifestyle issue to keep the division.
Yes, it’s very hard to figure out why people who dismiss civil rights issues crucial to most of the Democratic coalition as “social lifestyle” diversions haven’t taken over the Democratic Party. Brogressives would totally be a majority coalition if it wasn’t for that meddling Nancy Pelosi. (As TBogg says, he should have gone all the way and used the phrase “gonadal politics.”