An Open Letter to the DSCC

(welcome Crooks & Liars readers! Thanks for dropping by)

This morning, I opened my email to find an urgent appeal from the Ragin’ Cajun, James Carville on behalf of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. It reminded me, in stark terms, what this next election might be about: Democrats are defending 23 Senate seats in the 2012 race, Republicans are only defending 10. And as we’re all painfully aware, only four seats stand between the GOP and total control of congress, leaving a Presidential veto the only thing between the GOP and seeing their increasingly insane policy ideas enacted into law. It’s a huge, high-stakes election, no question whatsoever about it.

This is the letter I sent to them along with my contribution:


I just contributed $___ (see below for detail confirmation), and I wanted to drop a note with a brief exhortation on how to spend it – or, rather, how NOT to.

I contributed because you’re absolutely right, with today’s lunatic GOP, and with only four seats standing between them and complete control of congress (making the Presidential veto the only firewall), it’s a crucial time for the future of not just Democrats’ own electoral success, but the entire country’s fortunes. The voices of progress and fairness must not lose this one the way they lost the last one.

So here’s my exhortation: please, PLEASE, for the love of all that is holy, BE those voices of progress and fairness. Embody what this party has traditionally stood for. Stop embracing Wall Street and big corporations instead of unions and small businesses. Stop being scared of being loud and proud of traditional Democratic values. You can win on them, no matter what Karl Rove tries to make us all believe. What’s happening in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and elsewhere should be telling you that, if nothing else has so far. Quit grooming, nominating, funding and electing the next generation of tepid, unreliable blue-dogs like “with us on everything but the war” (HA!) Joe Lieberman, or never-there-when-you-need-them-most corporatists like Ben Nelson or Evan Bayh. Just stop it. They’re. Not. Democrats. As we ALL saw during the President’s first term, just electing someone who’s willing to put the D after their name doesn’t mean that person is truly a Democrat, and it doesn’t mean you’ll have the votes you need when the rubber meets the road.

The 2010 elections is already widely described by virtually everyone including the President as having been a “shellacking” for Democrats. Why? Part of it was inevitable pendulum-swing. Part of it was the inevitable flood of negative and outright fictional advertising by the Republicans and affiliated groups. But that’s par for the course, and I know you expected those and (hopefully) were prepared for them. The other reason for the “shellacking,” the part that really hurt you (and us, out here in regular-citizen land), was that you all explicitly led people to hope for fundamental change in 2008, and then you spent the next two years offering tepid technocracy and concessions – especially in the Senate – to an opposition that clearly wanted not compromise, but to destroy you and replace your accomplishments and agenda with their own. Sure, you passed some big legislation, but by the time the GOP and the Blue Dogs got through with those bills, they were hardly recognizable as the reforms you set out to create. Worse, at every step along the way, you looked outmaneuvered by a party that was more out-of-power and discredited than at any time since the Johnson administration. You looked like you were barely hanging on by your fingernails and hoping nothing would go wrong, rather than looking like lions who’d just won the last two elections decisively and were damn well going to implement the people’s agenda and to hell with the tea-tantrumers. And it cost you – and us – dearly. Like any political junkie, I know what’s at stake. I voted in the last election. But as you’re all-too-aware by now, a lot of people who turned out in 2008 didn’t this time. It wasn’t that they voted for the GOP; they stayed home. Not because they were lazy, or they didn’t care, or even that they didn’t understand, but because they thought YOU didn’t. They didn’t see the kind of fight in their leaders they knew would be necessary to really effect the kind of change that candidate Obama talked about in 2008, which motivated so many in that election. Without evidence of that sort of willingness to stand up and fight, a lot of less-politically-inclined people simply lost whatever hope they had for real change back in 2008.

So this time, for heaven’s sake – no, for OUR sake – learn the lessons of both ’08 AND ’10. The CORRECT lessons: stand UP. Fight. Lose if you have to, as long as you go down swinging. The generations before us who built the unions and fought for transformational change like universal suffrage and the end of slavery weren’t willing to stay out all day on picket lines and face the truncheon on behalf of brokered compromise and technocracy. They were willing to do it because they had no choice, but also because they could see clearly that they had people in power who were their champions. We need that spirit again today. BE those champions. The people in Wisconsin and Indiana and elsewhere are standing up now because they’re beginning to be able to feel the blade against their necks again, in a way Americans haven’t felt it in decades. Most have never felt it in their lifetimes, although some of the older ones have. But don’t mistake this burst of renewed activism for any kind of sweeping endorsement of the strategies you pursued over the past two years. It isn’t. They’re doing it because they’re beginning to realize they have no choice: it’s that, or watch the country they thought was solid as a rock change perhaps permanently for the worse. Don’t let them go into that fight alone, worried that nobody out there in leadership or power truly represents them. Stand up. Fight from our shared principles that are the engine that created the most prosperous, well-educated and literate population on the planet once upon a time. Don’t compromise with bad ideas, defeat them. People rally to that kind of leadership – the kind that says “I welcome their hatred.” Be those leaders again. Please. The kind of leaders that people vote FOR, not the kind that people reluctantly use as a vote against something worse (or often, don’t), because no better choice is available. If you can do that, you’ll see another election like 2006 or 2008. If you don’t, I fear we’ll see another 2010.

Thank you for hearing me out.

10 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the DSCC

  1. Do you think your letter is going to get read?

    They will take your money and ignore it.

    I have donated to the democrats in the past, so I get fund raising calls from the DSCC regularly. My response to them is that the president and his party:
    1: Have yet to hold anyone responsible in the banking industry for our near depression.
    2: Handed over the gulf oil disaster response to BP, and have again begun to issue permits for drilling, setting us up for another spill.
    3: Are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. (they haven’t called since Libya blew up)

    I tell them that I will contribute to candidates within the party, but not to a party that has really let us down and blown a historic opportunity for change.

  2. One more thought:

    I think it is ironic to get a letter from James Carvill, of all people.

    I remember just after Obama was elected seeing James Carville slagging Howard Dean on national tv. Carville, along with Robert Gibbs and other insiders basically purged Dean.

    Dean, with his fifty-state strategy could be said to deserve some credit for Obama’s victory by competing in states the DSCC would have written off without a fight.

    It’s people like Carville that make progressives like me wonder if we really have any (with very few exceptions like Bernie Sanders) friends in Washington.

    Just you wait, after Obama is safely into his second term they will go after Social Security. The signs are already there. Obama explicitly linked the deficit and SSI on one of network TV morning shows a couple of months ago. It was on Sam Seders’s Majority Report podcast if you want to hear it for your self.

    1. You might be surprised at what Obama may if he gets a second term. Though of course there’s no way to be sure, the pattern is that second-term Presidents look to their legacy since they’re freed from the constraints of having to get elected again. You may be right that in a second term, Obama would go after SS…but you may see the Obama who said he supported single-payer, too, or the one who wrote all those stirring speeches. I think a lot of how Obama behaves in a second term may end up depending on whether we continue to push him, hard, every chance we get. Because you know the Republicans and corporations will.

      1. Lars,

        Thank you for your thoughts.

        The way I see it, Obama has two things going for him.

        One is the freak show that is the republican candidate line up for 2012. If he had a creditable opponent, like a Mike Bloomberg, who could draw the disaffected, he might be in trouble.

        The other is the incredible amount of benefit of the doubt he recieves from democrats. “He will come around” seems to be the thought amongst many. I think this is misplaced: look at the people he has surrounded himself with. Look at the fights that he has chosen to abstain from. Look at how the Elizabeth Warren nomination has been handled. He may be playing some sort of six dimensional chess, some sort of rope a dope on the republicans, but I really wish he would at least once show a bit of fight for things progressives believe in.

        I often think of when Obama was inaugurated. How many of the two million people peacefully attending on that day are as dissappointed with him today as I am now.

  3. It does not matter if you vote R or D because all of those allowed to run are there to represent the conservative ruling power elite. Every president during my 60 years of life has been a conservative, every president has increased war, decreased regulations, accepted campaign contributions from corporations to do their bidding, every president refuses to enforce immigration laws or go after bank fraud, both R and D engage in torture, violate the constitution, persecute muslims, publically fund religion, promote corporate welfare and support Israel. I will no longer vote for either democrat or republican.

  4. Absolutely the best, and longest, description of the problem the Dems have, and why so few turned out in 2010.
    I personally am so angry at Obama and that party for not standing up for anything and giving away everything to a screaming pack of GOPtea wolves, they show they are also answering to the rich corporations and WS.
    Funny how quick the media picked up on a comment by a Tea Party woman about him getting some calcium for his backbone. Many people have blogging and saying that about Obama and Dems for a long time, but no coverage of it. Hummm.
    Anyway, thank you for this posting which I will save, but have to remember that our contributions are only money to them, because the only people politicians ever talk to are lobbyists and their employers, who as the top 2% contribute over 30% to all politicians.
    They have no real feeling or connection with the other 80% sharing 15% of the income they leave behind.
    And they have a huge stand army(s) that could make the suppression of illegal rebels in Libya look a picnic compared with what our Oligarchy could have done to us. Just saying.

  5. Could not have said it better myself — thank you. I hope they listen. I hope the president listens — his latest decisions have left me literally shaking my head, wondering what he was thinking (Immelt for American jobs?? Are you kidding? More deep-water permits without additional safety regs??) The one thing I would add to all your good points is to request that the Dems PLEASE find SOMEONE who can explain to the voters a) what they’re trying to do in easily understandable language (the Obama campaign did it brilliantly), b) call out the GOP deceptions at every turn (common, we’ve already experienced how well slashing taxes for the rich and cutting education/healthcare/etc. has worked in the past), and c) keep saying it — over and over and over — on TV, on radio, on social media — until Americans start to get what’s going on and start voting to preserve the America they love.

    1. I think we are going to have to keep up the pressure relentlessly, until the day Obama leaves office. He’s demonstrated clearly to anyone paying attention that he’s not the “go down with the ship” firebrand type. But he may very well be someone who, if he thinks the political will is there among either the people or congress or both, will push for some remarkably progressive legislation (remarkable in light of some of the head-shakers you mentioned that we’ve seen so far, anyway).

  6. Great and wonderful rant, and it’s something the progressive blogs have been saying for years, and it always falls on deaf ears. The Dim party have become a part of cowards and weaklings. Until they regain their roots in the working and middle class and start defending them, they will continue to stumble about in the darkness.

    I will hold my nose and vote Dem in the next election, but unless they start to show some courage and energy, they are sure to lose the Senate and perhaps even the presidency.

    Keep up the good work, and we will hope that Americans wake up before it’s too late…

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