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Terry McAuliffe has taken his share of abuse for the Democrats' failure to retain control of the Senate in 2002 and the net loss of six seats in Congress.  (Conversely, McAuliffe never received credit for Democratic gubernatorial pick-ups in key states like PA, MI, WI, IL, TN, AZ, NM and most recently LA.)  But now one of his critics has become an admirer:
The discontent with the chairman's tenure exploded in the aftermath of the 2002 election defeats. In the face of Bush's radical turn rightward, the party had failed to articulate a compelling critique or alternative. "Bring me the head of Terry McAuliffe!" Arianna Huffington wrote. Another liberal columnist (me) recommended stringing McAuliffe by his heels over one of Washington's many traffic circles.

But we critics missed what he was actually doing.

Harold Meyerson is one of journalism's shrewdest observers of American politics.  He often looks below the surface features pondered by the beltway bloviators to see what is actually happening on the ground, and what he sees happening at the Democratic National Committee gives him hope for our chances next year.  In fact, McAuliffe may be modernizing and improving the DNC more significantly than any DNC chair since the late Ron Brown.
 
It was under Brown's chairmanship that the DNC implemented the "coordinated campaign," in which candidates and party organizations would pool resources to conduct field operations such as canvassing, voter identification, phone banking and get out the vote (GOTV) operations.  Since Democrats' electoral success often hinges on turnout within high Democratic performance/low turnout demographics, coordinated campaigns devoted much of their activity to targeting and driving up participation of these potential Democratic voters.  Under McAuliffe, the DNC is engaging in similar targeting efforts, this time on a state level.  
"Look, we'd love to have kept the [Mississippi and Kentucky] governorships," [McAuliffe] begins, "but as it relates to what I worry about every day -- the 270 electoral votes -- it's not a factor."

Not all of his fellow Democrats are so sanguine. Just that day, U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told the congressional newspaper The Hill that "McAuliffe is out there on his own agenda, which does not involve the South."

Thompson's not entirely wrong. McAuliffe has indeed shifted the focus of the national committee to the coming presidential contest -- that is, to the 17 to 21 almost entirely non-southern "battleground states" that could go either way in November 2004. "We've always had our hands tied by the fact that we had to care about all 50 states; we were afraid to do targeting," says one veteran party operative. Under McAuliffe, though, targeting has come to the DNC with a vengeance. And it's about time.

Working largely under the radar, McAuliffe has actually made the DNC better prepared for a presidential election than it may ever have been. While the innovations in fund raising and communications of Howard Dean's presidential campaign and MoveOn.org have been widely noted, the analogous changes at the DNC have largely escaped attention. So, too, has the ramping up of its 2004 field campaign, which, under the direction of general election strategist Teresa Vilmain, is taking place earlier than ever before.

McAuliffe came to the DNC known primarily for his prowess as a high-donor fundraiser.  Indeed, McAuliffe's biggest achievements include eliminating the $18 million debt left from the 2000 election; raising an additional $25 million to purchase and rehab a building, eliminating future lease payments; and greatly improving the party's small-donor fundraising.  But McCain-Feingold has largely eliminated the ability of the national party committees to elicit large donations, so McAuliffe has adapted his focus to the new terrain, and that's good news for Democrats who want campaigns with a potent field effort.  

The main purpose of the DNC should be in providing the party's Presidential candidate with the machinery, capacities and resources needed to win elections.  Under Brown's leadership the DNC, in addition to pushing coordinated campaigns, embarked on an impressive program of training campaign workers and volunteers in state-of-the-art field organizing techniques.  After Clinton became President, however, the DNC was reduced to mostly collecting the tens of millions of dollars that paid for the soft-money issue ads that Clinton used to bludgeon Bob Dole during the summer of 1996.  But McAuliffe is transforming the DNC from a fundraising operation for paying for advertising into an operation that raises funds to create and maintain a campaign infrastructure.

Among the highlights are "Demzilla," a database that started with about 400,000 names but now has the names and contact information of over a million Democratic activists and donors.  The DNC has also consolidated voter files from the various state and local party organizations.  Supplemented by commercial databases, DataMart has information such as voting history, party registration, responses to voter identification efforts conducted by campaigns, and demographic information on over 150 million voters.  To ensure this information is fully utilized the DNC has provided software and training to the state and local party organizations.  And assuming the nomination is determined by this spring's primaries, as soon as the party has a presumptive nominee the DNC will give him the maximum allowable donation of $18.6 million, something the party has never been capable of doing before September or October.  

Meyerson doesn't entirely let McAuliffe off the hook for the party's lack of a coherent message.  But he is sympathetic to McAuliffe's quandary.

McAuliffe argues persuasively that the DNC chairman has no right to formulate a position for the party. Yet Democrats even have trouble coordinating the messages they agree on. The culprit here, says McAuliffe, is a system in which elected officials view themselves as individual entrepreneurs, particularly because they have varied constituencies and funding bases. "You're not going to tell House members and senators what the message is," sighs McAuliffe. "It's just not gonna happen."

Many people mistakenly believe that McAuliffe became DNC chair because he was favored by the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) and the New Democratic Network (NDN), when in fact he became chair because he was supported by almost every faction of the party.  This is significant because, largely because of McCain-Feingold, the party apparatus is being supplemented and occasionally supplanted by one of the factions that supported McAuliffe's ascendancy.  And contrary to what many might fear, the "privatized party" is not falling under the control of the DLC-NDN, but of McAuliffe's allies in the AFL-CIO.  

This year, no account of the changes in the Democratic Party can be confined to the Democratic Party. Since McCain-Feingold blocked such major donors as unions from financing voter registration and media buys, a number of 527s have arisen to do such work outside the formal structure of the party. And though these organizations have been called into existence by the exigencies of campaign-finance law, they may be better suited to mobilizing the Democratic base, both for this election and the long term, than the official party.

The central figure in the privatized party is Steve Rosenthal, until recently the political director of the AFL-CIO. One of federation President John Sweeney's first hires, Rosenthal transformed labor's political program, increasing both the share of union voters in elections and the percentages by which those voters supported Democratic candidates...

Rosenthal is not convinced that all Democratic Party officials share a strategic commitment to building a party on the ground. "Five years ago," he recalls, "I met with the state party chairman from a battleground state. I said, 'Build a real party. Start in three cities; the AFL-CIO will train your organizers and pay them.' I never even heard back from him." Now Rosenthal runs organizations that can train and pay those organizers no matter how benighted the local party leaders may be.

Several organizations have arisen to fund and direct field organizing; GOTV; coordinating activities between campaign, party organizations and allied progressive organizations like environmental and reproductive rights groups; and to pay for issue ads.  The common denominator in most all of these organizations is the dominant role of organized labor, which has proven since Sweeney's rise to power to be the powerhouse of American politics.  While staying steady over recent years at 14% of the workforce, since 1994 voters from labor families have supported Democrats 2-1 and increased their share of the overall vote from 14% to over 26% in 2000.  Much of labor's success came from field activity and direct voter contact, so transferring what has worked among union members to the electorate at large is an exciting prospect.  Even the only 527 mentioned by Meyerson that's not directed at field activity and is not run by a former labor official--the "Media Fund," which is expected to run between $50 million and $80 million worth of issue ads between March and the Democratic convention--has strong connections to organized labor; it's executive is Harold Ickes, the former Clinton official who was the key contact between the President and organized labor.  

McCain-Feingold provides some fundraising advantages to the Republicans.  But if what Meyerson calls the "privatization" of the Democratic party puts organized labor in a position to direct much of the party's grass roots voter contact, then fewer big bucks going to the DNC could be a net gain because organized labor, with the support of Terry McAuliffe, will direct their cash into field operations where they'll get more bang (and votes) for their bucks.  

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Nov 22, 2003 at 12:00 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  DHinMI does it again! (3.00)
    Wow. Look, we can't always be the party of purity if we want to be the majority party. Lieberman should not be challenged in the primary. Baucus and Daschle are mud around here, but we have to know  and understand the pressures on the rural state Dems or we won't have any to kick around anymore.

    This was a long post, but I hung on every word. Thanks.

    OT, but can you peek at the Open Thread and comment on the Overtime Exemption issue and how it affects the unions? We don't fully understand it. Might be worth a Diary, at least.

  •  A unifying theme... (none)
    I just posted a diary entry on the subject of a unifying theme for Democrats and suggested a negative ad campaign for the DNC and other non-candidate organizations.

    I'd love to see something like that tie in with the coordinated campaign idea.

  •  You cannot win (none)
    giving Republicans a free ride in the South. Yes, some states are a lost cause (Bama, Miss-ippi, probably SC, even GA), but demographics are changing so fast in other states like NC, FL, LA, VA and TX that bases must be established there for long term gain.

    "Teflon is inexplicable but powerful" - CTDem2

    by Doug in SF on Sat Nov 22, 2003 at 12:31:42 PM PST

    •  Re: You cannot win (3.50)
      I'm worried about neglecting the South, as well.  I can understand how "targeting" can be a good way to get 270 electoral votes, but it seems to be proving a very bad way to get 51 senators and 218 representatives.

      HEAD ONWARD with HOWARD DEAN

      by Michael D on Sat Nov 22, 2003 at 01:49:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re: You cannot win (none)
        <i>I'm worried about neglecting the South, as well.  I can understand how "targeting" can be a good way to get 270 electoral votes, but it seems to be proving a very bad way to get 51 senators and 218 representatives. </i>

        The major focus for the Chairman of the DNC is, and must be, getting 271 electoral votes. Recovering the House and Senate has to be lower priority than that. But there is more to the Democratic Party than the DNC. There has to be state, district and county party organizations working for the House and Senate Races.

        What are YOU doing in your voting precinct? It matters. So does your county or parish organization. The time to start working is NOW!

        •  Re: You cannot win (none)
          The House and Senate ARE important.  But let's be honest... we're not likely to win either back anytime soon.  Gerrymandering makes it unlikely in the House and the calender makes it unlikely in the Senate.  Bizarrely enough, the only seat which offers us any hope of avoiding indefinite one-party, anti-democratic rule of the United States government is the Presidency.  So that's what the DNC should be targeting...
    •  Re: You cannot win (3.37)
      Yes, Democrats cannot win in the South - unless they are well disguised Republicans.

      There is a limit to how much you can stretch an ideology.  If you make the Big Tent too big, it just collapses under its own weight.

      There are natural constituencies,  and the South has been one since the beginning of America.  The core of the South doesn't believe Democratic or democratic ideas,  and never has.  Its social and economic structure has always been (small-d) undemocratic;  i.e., aristocratic, sectarian (religious) and authoritarian.  The South aligns with national parties to curry influence, and wield power,  not to make cultural changes.

      I see this as a Yankee.  I feel the North evolved and continued to change dramatically since the start.  The South resisted change.  This tension continues and is very unlikely to go away.

      30 and 40 years ago,  I noticed the large number of Northern people who moved South to retire or work.  I thought the influx of Northerners - latter day carpetbaggers - would reform the South.  Instead, they were absorbed into the culture, and their children became Southerners.  So, the migration that built the "new South" changed the economy,  but not the culture.  There is strength in Southern ways.

      So, I think it is largely useless for Democrats to court the South - unless we want to throw away our commitments to civil rights,  secular society and opportunity for the working class.  We need only make a token effort.

      Does this make Democrats "no longer a national party," as Sen Zell Miller claims?  No, no more than the Republicans are not a national party.  Democrats have a base in the North and the West - the two coasts - and in many northern industrial States.  These States are multi-cultural and the site of most technical and economic innovation.  These States have the best educational institutions.  It seems to have been forgotten that there is a historical link between advances in science and technology,  free speech, and free thinkers.  The Democratic base is with those people who I believe are the wave of the future.  (The South is preoccupied with the past,  which is a conservative value.  The Southern economic miracle is the adaptation of old Yankee ideas.)

      It is curious the North and South have exchanged party labels since the Civil War,  but the underlying cultures and values have not changed.  This means both the major parties are essentially regional in nature,  but they are national to the extent that they control national institutions.  (Sen Miller's book is just his declaration of allegiance to the South,  not an observation of political fact.)

      So conceived, the struggle continues in the BORDER STATES.  Nothing has changed since the Civil War,  except that the shooting stopped.  The shouting has always gone on.

      Thus, concentrating our efforts in the border States is the correct startegy.

      •  Re: You cannot win (none)

        I think that Democrats could win more in the south if they focused on increasing turnout among African-American voters.  But too often Democrats running in the south pander to conservative whites, leaving blacks no one to vote for, so naturally many stay home.

        While his execution has been clumsy, I think that Dean has had the right idea -- try to compete for the south by stressing those issues that blacks and working-class whites have in common, namely economic issues.  Southern whites have been voting against their own economic interests for ages.

      •  Re: You cannot win (none)
        The only problem with your post is its flat out untrue. Labelling the south as authoritarian et al.. claiming it was never 'democratic' territory flies in the face of history.

        Parts of the south will never be democrat. And those states happen to be the most racist states (Pardon to the Kossers of these states im not talking about you im talking about the state voters as a whole). Alabama, South Carolina, probably NC etc etc.

        But we won Florida in 2000 or did everyone forget that. When you wipe 100,000 democratic voters off the roles its kinda hard for democrats to officially win the state.

        It would really be nice if people would remember where the democratic party came from and where it got its power.

        •  Re: You cannot win (none)
          Labelling the south as authoritarian et al.. claiming it was never 'democratic' territory flies in the face of history.

          OK then, show us a time in U.S. history where the South was small-d democratic.

          •  Re: You cannot win (none)
            Is that intended as a serious comment?

            Youve obviously never been to the south and know absolutely nothing about it. Thats mush thinking. Ignorant of fact, barren of logic. "I dont have any facts but everybody knows xxxxxxxxxx is true".

            •  Re: You cannot win (none)
              Born and raised in the South, my friend.  And it was a serious comment indeed.  When was the South "small-d" democratic?  During slavery days?  During 100 years of Jim Crow?  Or in the last 40 years, when the Christian right has taken over?
              •  Re: You cannot win (none)
                During slavery.. you mean when they were filling that NY City graveyard with african americans who'd literally been worked to death? Slavery wasnt a Southern only institution my friend. Revisionist history of the north has tried to make it look that way but it wasnt.

                The hundred years of Jim Crow? Im sorry the North was integrated and equal when?

                The christian right has taken over the south? Person me as i look up and down the street here in Daytona. Name a denomination i can walk to its church in five minutes. In fact name a religion ill bet you money i can be there within a few minutes. Or i could go back to asheville. Visit the most spectacular churches there. From the Church of God to very very lefty episcopalians to hardcore southern baptists to snake handlers to synagogues...

                You might wanna consider a lot of this "christian right" comes from the north too. Its not even a religious movement.. its a political movement by a religious minority.

                Christ was a lefty. He was also Not white skinned. A whole lot of christians realise this and have for a long time. You're falling for the media myth the gop and falwells False Prophet ilk have spun for the last 20 years. Get out and talk to some people i think you might be shocked.

                You want to know why i think the south votes repug? Because of our (democratic) arrogance towards southerners. They dont deal well with it. If you'll check my posts.. neither do I.

        •  Re: You cannot win (none)
          I tend to agree, as someone who had lived in Georgia for most of her life. I was born here and my family were staunch republicans for many years...but that's changed. Yes, the good old boy network still works behind the scenes, and yes, people do occasionally vote against their economic interests when they seem to be presented with a choice between what's "good" and what's good for them economically.

          Those of us who live here see it differently. And a huge problem is that there is virtually no Democratic party mobilization on the ground here, that I've seen. I've tried. I tried to volunteer during Gore's cmapaign and couldn't get hold of anyone at the office.

          Georgia really is a fairly progressive state, but the real matter here is that while nothing truly gets that much better under the Republican guidance, nor does it get appreciably worse. The amount of "pork" that comes into Georgia is really pretty small. Despite having a relatively high number of farms, we get relatively few subsidies, mostly because our biggest agro exports aren't food crops. By itself, the state is funding college education. (But the drop out rate is really high.) We're losing textile and manufacturing jobs by the boatloads. At the same time, the biggest employers are the big corporations...and yet Georgia votes Democratic about 1 in 4 presdential elections.

          I'm not even a democrat but I've been stumping for a democratic nominee...not because the DNC asked or even bothered to call me back...but because a single candidate pretty much pointed out that there isn't anyone else going to do it, but the voters. Log onto the DNC blog and you get pretty much the same reaction there as here. The south is lost, it's gone. Stop diverting resources.

          It's become a self-fulfilling prophecy in Georgia, where, despite Zell Miller's comments...the dems  really aren't all dixiecrats. He got blasted in the AJC for endorsing Bush.

          If the dems hold california and could take Georgia again, then Florida and Texas won't matter.

          No, it's not a swing state, but it could be. there are more registered democrats in Georgia than Republicans and an equal third indepenedents.  There's play room here.

      •  Re: You cannot win (none)
        The Southern economic miracle is the adaptation of old Yankee ideas.

        This is an extremely apt insight with interesting implications.

        Overall, a very interesting comment, Walter B., though I still feel the southern states with the most demographic and economic changes need to be part of our efforts for the long haul.

        Hear it? The Oracle cries the demise of He-Who-Lies. And the rise... of civil America.

        by Civil Sibyl on Sat Nov 22, 2003 at 06:42:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Re: You cannot win (3.66)
          Assuming your talking about recent history...the 'southern economic miracle' is (take this from someone who actually lives there) simply the result of northern industry fleeing to the southern "right to work" states on their way to Mexico. A job that might pay $20 an hour in Michigan might pay $10 an hour in NC.. with no benefits.

          As long as we southerners are too stupid to support unions it will continue.. at least til the jobs finish moving to the third world.

      •  Re: You cannot win (none)
        You know, if you'd made a single testable statement, I probably wouldn't have rated you a troll, Walter.

        Not that it matters.  You can say whatever you like about the South at Daily Kos, no matter how bigoted, and you'll get an amen.

        It's a shame.

        •  Re: You cannot win (none)
          Well,  troll that I am,  I think we have had opposing views on several occasions.

          I am sorry you cannot find "a single testable statement" in my writing.

          I also doubt I could make totally bigotted statements in Daily Kos without being challenged.  In fact, several others besides yourself have challenged my views, but haven't claimed I'm a bigot.

          I must admit,  being a bigot is something new to me,  so I'll have to try that one on for a while before I know what to do with it.

          My argument is based on my belief that we have at least 2, maybe 3, really different cultures in the US.  Further, these cultures are incompatible in important ways.  We have only a few choices about these cultural conflicts.

          • We could ignore or bury them.  For example, in the abortion issue,  the pro-choice idea is that each women can choose what to do based on her cultural/religious values.  To each his own.
          • We can fight it out,  and enforce the winning view on everyone.  That was the Civil War, or the present radical Republican view about abortion, religion, the environment, overtime, judges and much more: Crush dissenters.
          • We can let it simmer until it explodes,  or until, like the frog, whoever doesn't jump out of the pot gets cooked.
          I am advocate of the first policy.

          Now, here's a testable statement for you:  just which of the core ("old") Confederate States will vote for Dr Dean?  for Sen Lieberman?

          My prediction:  NONE OF THEM, except maybe Florida or Louisiana.

          And,  another testable statement:  what can we Democrats do about that in 2004?

          My prediction:  VERY LITTLE OR NOTHING.

          We, of course, should put some time and effort into the South,  but this is definitely on my back burner.  Why irritate people who just cannot agree with you?  What have you thereby accomplished?  You realize, of course, that time and money are limited, so must be allocated.

          •  Re: You cannot win (none)
            You are intentionally creating a self fullfilling prophecy here.

            "Dont spend any assets on the south or work in the south or.. even stop being obnoxiously bigoted about southerners who you dont know anything about and have never met.. because we cant win the south"

            We could reverse that to the north and it would be equally true. California gave us Reagan.. noone suggested tossing out Cali. California now has an admirer of the Nazi party in charge.. but noone suggests ditching cali.. But florida.. well basically the entire southeastern coast.. some of the most populous states in america you want to ditch because youve watched one too many episodes of the bevery hillbillies or the Waltons. It boggles the mind.

            Its equally as obnoxious as racism. You know. .branding people youve never met when you know only one single fact that is beyond their control about them.

            •  Re: You cannot win (none)
              Its equally as obnoxious as racism. You know. .branding people youve never met when you know only one single fact that is beyond their control about them.

              I don't think anyone did what you describe here, but... whatever, it's not as obnoxious as racism unless racism is less obnoxious than I'd thought. First, being a southerner is not beyond your control. You can move.

              Denouncing "the south" (it's lower-case unless you're referring to a political entity) shouldn't result in anyone's national honor being insulted--and if certain southerners regard their status as indicating something closer to an ethnicity than mere geography... ok, that's about as far as I can follow this--how can anyone be defensive and patriotic about a region? A region, moreover, that nobody seems able to define.

              It didn't occur to me to try and figure out whether I had been offended by Walter. I was born and educated in the District of Columbia--below the  Mason-Dixon line and still not part of the "northeast" if the term has any meaning. I have a southern accent, as my neighbors in New Hampshire can verify. They don't mind.

              I think you'd do well to examine why you took the generalizations so personally.  

              •  Re: You cannot win (none)
                No.. D.C isnt the south. Then again D.C is its own little Un-Democratic totalitarian regime.

                Yes it is "the South". At least if you come down here and dont want people to look at you like your insane.

                Why would i want to move out of the South? Im proud of being a Southerner. In fact by the huge droves of you folks moving down here i get the feeling your wanting to be Southerners awful bad.
                But thats ok.. we're happy to have you. Though a few less of you might be nice.

                The south is simple to define. sorta like being a New England Yankee is easy to define. Ask one he'll tell you. Heck if i had to choose i'da been a Mainer myself. Talk about a rich heritage.

                Here's a hint. If your from W. Va or Ky south.. Tennesseee east you're a Southerner. If you're from Louisiana, Mississippi or Alabama your from the "deep south" and frankly you scare us southerners. If your from Texas your not a southerner. Your a Texan. (Ask one). If you're from Florida you probably just moved from up north so.. you're an honorary southerner.  Clearer now?

            •  Re: You cannot win (none)
              You could be right:  Maybe what I am saying is a self fulfilling prophecy.

              I prefer not to think that, however,  because of the polls I hear about and the sayings of prominent Southern figures.

              What am I to think,  when the new Democratic Governor of Louisiana is a woman and pro-life?  In fact, Gov-elect Blanco is very conservative on many other issues.

              How about Sen Breaux's work on Republican-led bills like "Medicare Reform?"

              While there are many other examples,  some of them implicating NORTHERN Democrats,  the center of the anti-Democrat Democrats seems to be in the old South.

              We are discussing what Democrats should do about the party apparatus,  Terry McAuliffe in particular.  Recently, we have also been discussing what to do about Sen Daschle and what defines the party.  (I say peace, prosperity and personal fulfillment.) These things are of a piece, and bear importantly on the 2004 elections.

              Call me a bigot if you will,  noting I did admit to being a prejudiced Yankee,  but I also believe many Southerners do not fit the stereotype I presented.

              Right at the start,  I will concede there are Democratic districts in the South.  We should do what is required to hold onto to them.  There are a very few contestable districts in the South, and we should contest them.  We should encourage the rank and file to be active in spreading our commonly held beliefs.  We should do all those things,  in the hope the South can be redeemed.

              Nonetheless, what I want is a reason to invest major election time, money and personnel in the South.  Show that the polls and politicians really support what we are about.  I don't want to hear that we should all resign ourselves to supporting the old George Wallace.

              •  Re: You cannot win (none)
                Walter im not suggesting for a second devoting major resources to the south with the exception of florida (which we won last time).

                Your post is very well spoken and i cant really disagree with any of it. In my opinion we'd be better off Without "blue-dog" democrats. Having a 'democrat' in congress who votes repub and gives them political cover does much more harm than good and makes people snicker when we claim to stand for something the bluedogs make a mockery of.

                Imho we should write off states like Alabama, Mississippi for the next decade. I consider them "deep south". Where politics is mostly about race.. and racism. We'll have to eventually bring them into the party by supporting.. god forbid.. the lower classes .. and fighting for them. The opposite of what blue-dog/dlc'ers  want. But that is after we take our party back, and the nation.

                Im simply proposing we change some very simple things. First stop insulting the south and southerners. Its great being a Southerner. Same as its great being a Yankee. Youve got that yankee ingenuity thing goin on.. all your stereotypes you love. We have the same things.
                Second stop talking down to the south and having a holier than thou attitude. The north has HUGE problems with racism. Northern dems seem in denial. Get over it. Racism is a moral failure.. not a geographical illness. The north has any problem/failure you can lay at the feet of the South. And visa versa. We have gangs. We have crime. We have deficits. We have homeless.

                And most importantly to win the south you have to change two things. Gun control extremism and lies. You want to ban guns? Propose a constitutional amendment. Dont lie and try to go through the back door. When you try to demonise gunowners your demonising MOST of the south (and a lot of northerners too). You also give the right a Very clear claim that our party is racist and elitist. Go to a gun board sometime and note the reactions to banning "cheap guns" etc. It very clearly comes off as "we gotta disarm them darkies!". Gun control is a sham to get people ignorant of the actual law to vote for Schumer and ilk.

                Second dont get Extreme on abortion. Over half of the south is female. Women as a group vote strongly prochoice. They also (just like men) are strongly anti-pba. Extremists bet our party on the two issues this last election. We can argue PBA in detail somewhere else but 70% of the country is strongly against it. And that tag stuck tight last election cycle. Theres a reason the GOP pushed it. You think if they REALLY cared they couldnt decimate right to choose now that they control all three branches? But they dont.. because they dont care. It was a political tool.

                Lastly dont dis patriotism or religion. When a Falwell comes out we need to ATTACK him not grovel before him. When he attacks the democratic party we need to rip him apart. Jesus was a lefty. Falwell and ilk are false prophets. When someone attacks our patriotism we need to stand up our CMH winners to say "Dubya we served our nation and gave our blood for our country on the battlefield.. where were YOU?"

                Winning the South isnt about spending money or getting out bodies (which imho winning the nation isnt). Its about our message. And who we're going to fight for. Right now the South sees us as fighting Against them. When we stand up and tell the DLC and GOP "NO we're not shipping all the textile jobs in the south to China so political donors can fill your pockets" , "No we're not giving Chinese Communists MFN because we dont think shipping jobs to tyrannical communist regimes is a good thing" you can bet those good ol boys will be slippin Dem stickers on the bumpers of their trucks.

                Redbank ill define the south for you. and in the south we call our selves Southerners. We dont call ourselves virginians or carolinians or what have you. You can believe that or not. Southerners DO have an identity and it has NOTHING to do with racism, the civil war or anything like that. Southerners arent all white btw. Take the Southeast coast, west to tennessee, up to west virginia, virginia , kentucky.. the whole area. Texans arent southerners.. they're texans. Ask one he'll tell you. You get the drift. Come visit and get to know us. We'd love to have you. Just make sure you buy a return ticket. Once you guys come down here you tend to stay.

              •  Re: You cannot win (none)
                Walter thats a very well thought out and very well reasoned post. And i had a .. well less well thought out and written .. but at least an attempt to respond but the darn thing hiccuped.

                To make it short.

                Im not even suggesting devoting resources to the South other than to hold what we have and win Florida (we did last time).

                Three keys to winning the south:

                Drop the anti-constitutional and falsehood filled anti-gun rhetoric. You want to ban machine guns? Theyve been illegal since 1932.
                You want to ban Cheap guns? Its a racist, classist position. What it really means is "keep guns out of the hands of those people". check a gun board sometime. You Will find disgust at the blatant racism of the position. You really do want to ban all guns? Fine. We have a process to amend the constitution. Its clearly spelled out in the noble document. Stop trying to weasel around the Bill of Rights because you dont like that one and the "silly peasants" arent wise enough to amend it as you'd have it. (This is aimed at antigun extremists not you).

                Dont ever let Anyone criticise our patriotism. When the chickenhawks stand up and question our patriotism we need to march the Congressional medal of honor winners in our party (we've got a suprisingly large number.. theyve got a not -so-surprising lack thereof) to a press conference to say 'Mister bush i fought and shed blood for my nation. I proved my patriotism on the Battlefield. Where were YOU?"

                When anti-christ false prophets like falwell call Democrats anti-christian stand up to him. Get in  his face and point out that Christ favored helping the poor.. like the democrats. Christ called for throwing the moneychangers from the temple.. not hiring them to man the phones. etc.

                Abandon Extremist PBA positions. Dems stopped a "life of the mother" amendment and instead tried to tack on "health of the mother". For legal reasons a killer amendment. We sacrificed our party for a very extreme position nearly 70% of americans Strongly oppose.

                Start fighting for the "working man". That doesnt mean someone who makes 50k in an auto factory in detroit. It means the guy working at the 7-11. It means the girl who works at the checkout. It means the man and woman working in a factory for 9 bucks an hour praying they dont get laid off. It means working for people who need it. Not using machiavellian strategies while looking at census data trying to buy off demographic niches. It means having an old democratic (and christian) principle.. standing up for the little guy.. what we used to be known for.

                You do those three things we'll take back  both houses and the Presidency in the biggest landslide this century. And the Gop will go back to being the almost irrelevant party that most americans recognise as a party of greedy elitists.

                •  Re: You cannot win (none)
                  Sadly, we don't agree at all about abortion, guns, patriotism and religion.  For me,  your positions are extreme,  and I am 100% against the Democratic party adopting your line.

                  I would, however, prefer not to argue the issues.  On all but the guns,  my solution is 'to each his own.'  In other words,  let each person decide about religion and country.  So, if you are pregnant and believe abortion is immoral,  don't have one;  if you feel otherwise, do what you think appropiate.  The point is these are matters for each individual, not the party or government, to decide.

                  On my view,  if you accept the tolerance principle, the sorts of specifics you mention should not be the subject of political debate.

                  Regarding guns,  there is a vast difference in the attitudes of urban and rural dwellers. I have lived in both places during the last decade.  I think there should be uniform, strong gun registration and control laws,  primarilly because guns are easily transported from the country to the city.  A relaxed regime in rural areas just doesn't work.

                  Like most Californians,  I'm a lot more concerned about being mowed down by some nut with an Uzi than your right to go hunting.  That's because such things have happened here.

                  I am sympathetic with those who want to hunt,  even if that is definitely not my hobby.  I realize there is resentment about the controls us "metropolitan" types impose.  I hope a solution - a reasonable compromise - can eventually be reached.

                  The real problem is you don't feel threatened by all those guns;  most of us here do. The Texas solution, arming everyone = law of the jungle, leads to total paranoia and vigilantes;  it's unacceptable here.  We just have too many other stress factors in our lives;  we don't have time to practice being Bonnie & Clyde.

                  My bottom line is that my death is not exchangeable for your pleasure in owning and using guns.  Death is not fungible.

                  I have no idea how to bridge the gap on all the issues you present.  I do think most non-Southern Democrats would feel sold out if the party took the stances you suggest.  So,  there really is a "culture gap;"  there's Dixiecrats and Democrats.

                  What we do agree about is the working class and economic issues.  So, in the South, maybe Demcrats should concentrate on those issues, ignore the rest, and hope for the best.  I think that was FDR's view of it.

                  •  Re: You cannot win (none)
                    You apparently didnt bother to even read my post.

                    Id like to see you point out where i suggested outlawing abortion. I didnt. I suggested outlawing PBA. But as you said you wont argue that. I suspect because, as with most people who support gun control and pba you dont really have the facts or care to know them.

                    On gun control. F/A Uzi's are against the law. But as you obviously know nothing about the gun laws, 2nd amendment advocates positions, or even the NRA thats obviously besides the point. Im not a hunter. Ive been hunting once. I didnt shoot anything. I had no urge too. I was 8. But im sure you'll do the standard antigunner thing and not bother to read what ive said. Schumer, Feinstein and their followers rarely concern themselves with fact or reality. Here are a couple facts for you. The NRA and all the gunowners i know want stronger laws to deal with criminals who use firearms in crimes. Stronger. get it? They dont want criminals having firearms. Ever. But thats one of those mere facts. Would you care to know the actual statistics on Machine guns used in crimes? here they are. One legal machine gun, last i checked, had been used in a crime in the last several decades. The criminal was a police officer. Mere facts. Cant let those get in your way.

                    Theres no compromise. Read the constitution someday. I realise its an annoying impediment to you that you want to ignore. Thank god some people still believe the Bill  of Rights matter.

                    The "texas solution". I  suppose thats an attack on those "redneck texans". Heres a fact for you studly. New York City , Los Angeles, and Washington DC have the toughest gun control laws in the United States. And the highest crime rates. But then thats just a fact and nothing to get int he way of your crusade to gut the constitution and keep 'those people' from owning firearms.

                    My constitutional rights are not expendable to ease your ignorant and irrational fears. Really am sorry you are afraid of guns. Id suggest you be afraid of criminals. By the way.. if you disarm law abiding citizens only two groups will be armed. The government, and criminals. Think about that a bit and go read some history.

                    Since you didnt read my post and dont seem to know much about what we're talking about i guess this is pointless. But just to clear things up a bit. Its not just southerners. You i believe were talking about winning Arizona. You might check out how midwesterners feel about gun control.

                    Just a thought. You seem like a good person. If your going to fight for an issue at least get informed so you know what your talking about. You equate PBA with the right to choose. You equate the Right to bear arms with passing out M60's to gangs. Do a little research?

                    •  Re: You cannot win (none)
                      I read your memo carefully, more than once.

                      At first, I thought it was better not to reply to it,  fearing the response you've provided.

                      You bet I fear guns, and I fear criminals.  I also fear the police most of the time,  as the sort of people likely to join the police and the military enjoy fighting.  For me,  the bottom line is the less I have of any of that in my life, the better.

                      I am sorry,  but there is an abyss separating our positions.  You are probably right,  that a lot of people in the Southwest and South won't vote for Democrats on account of party positions similar to mine.

                      What you overlook is this:  there's a lot more people in every part of the country who would abandon the Democrat party if it adopted the positions you advocate.  For example, here in northern California,  only a small minority feels as you do,  and practically no Democrats.  In this part of the country,  your beliefs are associated with the ultra-conservative (the farthest right) faction of the Republican party.

                      If the Democratic party goes Dixiecrat,  the majority of Democrats will have to start a new party or join the Greens.

                      If, as it seems, you feel alienated from the party, and certainly from my views,  maybe you should consider starting a Dixiecrat movement.  But, I cannot help you with that.

                      •  Re: You cannot win (none)
                        You.. really... dont seem to get it.

                        Most of the nation shares my views. Do you not get that they oppose pba? Seriously im not making this up.

                        And on guns... doesnt it tell you something that HCI, Feinstein and Schumer have to spread lies so deep it makes Bush look like he has integrity to    win their position?

                        Understand this. The reason there were the whole round of lies about "what the second amendment means" including a book full of lies is that the antigun whackos CANT get an amendment changing it. When americans are told the truth about the laws a very solid majority is "progun". Theyve been led to believe gun control is about getting rid of machine guns and stopping gangs from using illegal guns. Its Not! Im alllllllllllll for disarming criminals. Imho you commit a crime with a gun you go to prison and never come out. That opinion is shared by every gun rights advocate i know of. Criminals dont buy LEGAL guns do you understand?
                        Your trying to disarm the GOOD  guys.

                        Now you opposing guns period. Thats a legitimate political belief and good luck to you in it so long as your honest. And i get the feeling your a very honest thoughtful person. But study the details for gods sake. Theyre using you as a political pawn based on fear and (meant in a totally noninsulting way) ignorance of the facts.

                        And i too fear the 'law' and government. Thats the  basis of my 2nd amendment defense. I could really care less about hunting. A disarmed citizenry gives power too two groups. Wouldbe tyrannical politicians.. and criminals.

                        And hey feel free to raise your voice. Rant at me. Call me a fool.Heck i know i am occasionally ;) I love a good argument. Best way to learn :)

      •  Re: You cannot win (none)
        Together, 13 Southern states have 168 electoral votes -- almost two-thirds of the total needed for President Bush to win re-election. Last time around he carried them all, and reapportionment has added five more votes to the Southern tally in 2004.

        Write off the South at the Party's peril.

        •  Re: You cannot win (none)
          You are right about the electoral totals.

          What can we do about it?  My view is little or nothing.

          Thus, our strategy is constrained.  We have to put together a winning coalition wihtout the South.  This can be done,  but the election will be close.

          Use the Dkos ELECTORAL MAP and figure it out.  It is not hard.

          We have to go after the traditional NORTHERN states,  including PA and OH.  We should go after AZ, which is changing,  and hope to hang onto NV which is a border state.  (Nevadans don't know whether they belong to the Mountain  States or the West.)  We should spend some time in FL, unless it is clear it's a waste.

          You just have to figure what to do based on now much time and money you have.

          Of course, we could win the South by being more Bushie than Bush.  In that case, you won't get my vote,  but who cares about some old leftie?

  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (3.33)
    I agree that McAullife has been given a bum rap.  He is not an elected official and therefor can't be expected to be the voice of the party.  That falls to Gephardt or Daschle, who have been either self serving or ineffective.   One thing that Mac needs to do is to tell the voices over at the DLC to shut the f*ck up - or at least stop directly attacking democratic candidates.  One thing the DLC needs to figure out is that they don't speack for the rank and file and once the general election roles around Soccer moms and Nascar dads could care less what they have to say - the nominee will by then speak for the party.
  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
    I mostly agree with Meyerson. The head of the DNC should be responsible for party organization and fund-raising, while the politicians are ultimately responsible for the party's message.  We will find out if McAuliffe has done his job in 2004.
  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (3.80)
    This is outstanding, and I agree that McAuliffe gets a bum rap. The DNC chair cannot give the party a coherent message; only elected officials can do that.

    What McAuliffe has been tending to - ironically, given his lousy reputation among Deanites here - is "materiality." Doubly ironic, because I think there's no question that Dean and Trippi have given a huge long-term gift to the party, even though I doubt it is enough by itself to be decisive next fall.

    -- Rick Robinson

  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (4.00)
    I'm not a fan of McCauliffe and I see most of this as trying to put a nice cover on a poorly written book.

    But, I'm curious, do folks consider Gillespie effective at the RNC?  I know Party differences create job differences but it seems to me that Gillespie is right in the middle of Party message work for the GOP.  IN fact, he is often the attack dog.  I'm curious what others think of this in light of this alternative view on McCauliffe?

    •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
      I assume that Gillespie says what Bush and Rove tell him to say. The Democratic Party doesn't have anybody right now who can tell McAuliffe what to say.

      Can anybody tell me who was running the RNC 4 years ago, and what he was saying?

    •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (3.50)
      The Republicans already have their candidate. The message is easy. We don't. If the chairman of the DNC starts presenting a message right now, and the ultimate winner of the primaries doesn't agree with it, the Party is in a bind.

      McAuliffe is in a different situation from that of the Chairman of the RNC. He is right to not be spreading a Democratic message - yet.

  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
    McCauliffe's failure is in failing to strengthen the brand of the Democratic Party as a customer service organization.
    •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
      McAuliffe's failure is in failing to strengthen the brand of the Democratic Party as a customer service organization.

      Interesting observation -- but Terry Mac would be called a miracle worker if he had successfully repositioned the Democratic Brand.

      The GOP smear machine has been working 24/7 for years, and the Democratic Party Establishment still think they are entitled to Majority Party status, because that's the way it's always been.

      The problems are far deeper than Terry Mac.

  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (4.00)
    An excellent post and informative article by Meyerson.  I'm impressed by what McAuliffe has accomplished and it's long overdue.  I'm even more amazed by the condition of the DNC at the time that McAuliffe took it over - what the hell were the previous party chairs doing?  How could they overlook steps that were so obvious?  No wonder we lost in 2000 and 2002!

    Somebody mentioned that Gillespie over at the RNC has been involved in setting and focussing the Rethuglican message.  Well, yes, and that illustrates McAuliffe's point that there is only one boss - the Chimp - and a highly organized and disciplined party structure to back him up.  McAuliffe has to ride herd over a bunch of free spirits running in different directions.  We sure don't want to be subject to a Republican-type discipline, do we?  

    But I agree that we do need a more coherent message.  But the failure there lies with the Democratic candidates - they ought to be able to agree on some basic themes that would enable the DNC to develop some messages.

    I also agree with McAuliffe that winning in '04 is "job 1" - that means focussing on the battleground states, which appear to be states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and the SW (AZ, NM OK, etc.).  I don't want to see the party give up on the deep South, but that's more a long-run strategy with little payoff next year.  I just can't see folks in that southern culture going Democratic next year.

    Once our guy is in the WH and we gain more influence over the message in the national media, then we can work harder and more effectively in the South.

    But one thing is very clear to me:  the Democratic party and candidate are going to have to be constantly on the offensive, they are going to have to define the terms of the discussion and put GWB and his allies on the defensive.  We cannot let the mighty Wurlitzer define the issues and our candidates.  If we do, we lose.

  •  Demzilla -- boon or bust? (3.00)
    Kos mentioned Demzilla several months ago -- everything I read about it suggested that it was a disaster. Did they fix it? Is it working? One million names isn't very many -- unless all they want are activists and donors.

    I've suggested the Dean campaign create an open source voter database program, and call it Deanzilla. Here in Colorado, there is no voter list maintenance -- every year, they buy the registration lists and start from scratch. A friend who was elected to a suburban city council tried to give his corrected lists to the Arapahoe County Democrats, and there was no one who even had a clue what he was offering them.

    Joe Trippi will be in Denver over the weekend -- I'll give him a memo that outlines the proposal.

    •  Re: Demzilla -- boon or bust? (none)
      One million names isn't very many -- unless all they want are activists and donors.

      Did you even read the piece?
      Among the highlights are "Demzilla," a database that started with about 400,000 names but now has the names and contact information of over a million Democratic activists and donors.  The DNC has also consolidated voter files from the various state and local party organizations.
      •  Re: Demzilla -- boon or bust? (none)
        The DNC should get access to all of the candidate supporter lists once we know who will be the nominee.
      •  Re: Demzilla -- boon or bust? (none)
        Oops -- my bad. On reading the Meyerson piece carefully, it's clear that there are two separate DNC database projects:

        a) Demzilla for donors and activists (currently a million +)

        b) DataMart, a file of 158 million registered voters.

        Historically, lists of voters have been kept by state parties, individual campaigns and commercial list vendors. At the end of many campaigns, the results of the phone polling and precinct canvassing that the campaigns have done on voters -- often a pretty fair profile of those voters' politics -- are carted away by consultants or simply trashed. As for the state parties, most have lacked the technical capacity to maintain these lists. DataMart, ideally, will fix all that.

        If DataMart can do what is suggested here, it will be very good news. Accurate voter lists are the key to voter mobilization and GOTV -- this includes maintaining accurate lists; making them available in useful form to local candidates and precinct walkers; and integrating corrected data gathered from the field. If the DNC can pull this off, all Democrats will benefit. Let's hope this works.

  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (3.50)
    Where am I living?  Are you people nuts?  

    One of the reasons the Republicans do so well is they don't tolerate failure.  If they have a bad election cycle, they bring in new blood to run the RNC.

    We've given McAuliffe 3 chances - '02, California, and '03.  It's time for him to go.

    •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (3.00)
      Senator Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham
      Senator Attorney General John Ashcroft
      Losing Presidential Candidate Supreme Court Appointed President George W. Bush
    •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
      The DNC didn't really have anything to do with the California recall that I saw.  Also we ran a candidate who was about as charismatic as soggy toast.  
      •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
        Sorry, but the DNC's job in the Cali recall was to make sure that California stayed a Democratic governor.  They failed in that regard, which is impressive considering it is one of the most Dem states in the country.

        Whatever it took, it should have been done.

  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (3.50)
    I am among those who prefer McAulife to go.

    Mr McAuliffe is too closely associated with the Clintons.  Further,  he happilly went along with the Gephardt-Daschle strategy in 2002.

    I don't think it is good for the Democratic party to be too closely linked to labor.  I reject the notion of organizing efforts dominated by labor.  The party represents several constituencies, one of which is labor.

    The national party should strongly represent the positions written in the platform.  When I see Gillespie on TV,  I believe that is what he does.  When I see McAuliffe,  I just see defense of what he's been doing - and constant waving away of policy questions.

    Thus,  McAuliffe sees himself as an apparatchik,  not a politician.  This reduces the DNC profile to just another money-grubbing organization.

    Of course, I am a Dean supporter who thinks people are willing to do something about - and pay for - what they believe.  Very few people care about corporate gray.

    I used to do some work for a business connected to the Republican advertising machine.  (Guess what?  I had to make a living.) This allowed me to see in advance what the R's were up to. The Democrats are light years behind,  inhibited by a backward Labor Union perspective. Democrats seem to fear and loathe technology, especially computers,  and do not use it effectively. (But, I was in the computer business.) The result is Republican dominance in spreading the word.

    I don't think McAuliffe should be replaced by just anyone.  We need someone who really can represent the party's ideology,  and who knows how to use the latest technology.  The DNC should not be the corporate home of apparatchiks.

    •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (4.00)
      "Mr McAuliffe is too closely associated with the Clintons.  Further,  he happilly went along with the Gephardt-Daschle strategy in 2002."

      I wonder what basis you have for the claim that McAuliffe "happily went along" with anything.  But as for the Clinton association, why is it by definition a negative to have been associated with the only Democratic President to be elected to two terms since FDR?  McAuliffe is helped not because he's connected to one faction of the party, but because he has strong ties to almost every faction of the party.  If you want someone who is not connected to the former President, organized labor, and just about every other faction of the Democratic Party, then the only major party that person could ever head up would be the Republican party.

      "I don't think it is good for the Democratic party to be too closely linked to labor.  I reject the notion of organizing efforts dominated by labor."  

      Forgive me from copying from my own post, but here's my reply: "While staying steady over recent years at 14% of the workforce, since 1994 voters from labor families have supported Democrats 2-1 and increased their share of the overall vote from 14% to over 26% in 2000.  Much of labor's success came from field activity and direct voter contact, so transferring what has worked among union members to the electorate at large is an exciting prospect."  It works, it emphasizes grass roots organizing, and you're against it?  

      "The national party should strongly represent the positions written in the platform."

      Who do you think writes those policy platforms?  It's the same factions that elected Terry McAuliffe.

      "When I see Gillespie on TV,  I believe that is what he does."

      Gillespie is chair while his party controls the White House, so he takes his talking points from the President.  If the Dem wins and McAuliffe stays on as chair of the DNC he would do the same thing.

      "When I see McAuliffe,  I just see defense of what he's been doing - and constant waving away of policy questions."

      His job is not to formulate policy, it's to facilitate the election of Democrats, most specifically the Democratic nominee for President.  Helping Gov candidates is the responsibility of the DGA, the DCCC is for Congressional candidates, and the DSCC for Senatorial candidates.  

      "Thus,  McAuliffe sees himself as an apparatchik,  not a politician."  

      The head of the DNC is an appratchnik, not a politician.  Policy is handled by elected policy makers.  

      "The Democrats are light years behind,  inhibited by a backward Labor Union perspective. Democrats seem to fear and loathe technology, especially computers,  and do not use it effectively."

      HUH?!?!  Two of the main points of the article and the post were about the DNC huge advances in technology and databases, and the application of labor's successes in turning out pro-Dem votes being applied to the electorate at large!  And doesn't that call more for an appratchnik than a politician?

      "I don't think McAuliffe should be replaced by just anyone.  We need someone who really can represent the party's ideology,  and who knows how to use the latest technology.  The DNC should not be the corporate home of apparatchiks"

      Terry McAuliffe is too close to labor for your tastes, but he's allowed the DNC to become the corporate home of appratchniks?  

      I'm sorry, but this is an example of reflexive distaste for anything to do with the existing Democratic party.  There's plenty to criticize the party for, but the first step is actually understanding how it works and what purposes the various party factions and institutions serve.  

      •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
        I think it's very dangerous to be linked overwhelmingly to one constituency, as the differences between Labor and democrat priorities become blurred. It's like accepting that it is good thing that the Republican is funded and organised by the religious right.

        At the end of the day once you get into power you'll have to pay the piper. If that means moving away from a free trade agenda and repealling NAFTA. It's not worth bargaining away.

        •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
          Honestly, what's the big attraction to "free trade" and NAFTA.  As far as I can tell it's just big business propaganda.  How have we benefited from "free trade"?  Other countries have, certainly, like China, but we have not.  Globalisation might be inevitable, but what it really means is the diversification of power to all corners of the globe.  

          Personally I think this country has abused its status in the world, so I will not cry about that, but I think the people of this country are in for a big surprise in terms of standard of living, etc.  

          •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
            "Personally I think this country has abused its status in the world, so I will not cry about that"

            I strongly disagree. I dislike flag wavers just as much as the next over-educated North-esatern liberal, but I don't know when patriotism became unfashionable among liberals. America is not perfect- no country is. But to be entirely honest, we've done a fairly good job in the long run.
            If the rest of the world would have just LISTENED to us after WWI, we would have had a fairly decent shot at stopping WWII before it started. Either way, we didn't enter WWII early, but we helped Russia finish off the Germans. I'm not wildly anti-communism (though I do think the idea os faulty), but the USSR was not a good empire. They weren't communist- they were totalitarian, killing millions upon millions. I hate mccarthy, but I am proud that my nation stood up to the USSR. I didn't like alot of thej little policies, but we did stand against a murderous regime. With civil rights and all of that, I just want to quote a line that civil rights leaders said about RFK before he was shot- "He was okay, but getting better". I think we're similar. We didn't do a perfect job, but in the long run, keeping democracy and not starting a second civil war, we made alot of headway in civil rights, abortion, womens' rights, etc. Heck, we even got out of Vietnam. Now the war in Iraq. I was against the second one, but to be entirely honest, had Bush said it differently, I might not have been. Had he said "There is a murderous regime that is killing millions of civilians, and it is the job of all democratic nations to stand up to them and spread the message of America and civilized society," I would have had a hard time, and I suspect many of you too would have had, to fight that. I was against how he presented the war- I thought that he honestly came close to treason using bad data to bring us to war. However, the war itself, was not inherently bad- how it was presented MADE it bad. I disagree with alot that this country has done over its history. However, in the long run, I am proud to be an American, because even when we screwed up, we DID get alot of things right. And I think it's time for liberals and Democrats to recognize this.

            •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
              Yeah, we did a lot of things right, like:

              How we created Osama bin Laden by supporting him against the soviets.

              How we supported Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran, meanwhile he's gassing the Kurds.  

              For that matter we overthrew a benevolent leader in Iran because he didn't serve our purposes (he wanted to nationalize Iran's oil because BP was ripping them off), and set up a horrible dictator in his place, the Shah.  Thanks to that stupidity, the Shah eventually got overthrown and we have the mess we have there now.  

              Now we're still at it in Iraq.  

              We support dictatorial regimes all the while speaking about human rights and democracy.  And, of course we throw those rights out the window ourselves by just illegally detaining people at Guantanamo Bay.  

              The list goes on and on.  For every "good" thing we've done, we've done 2 bad ones.  Are we better than the USSR?  I have a hard time saying yes, but maybe in some ways.  All the same, the world's better off without 2 super powers, and it will certainly be better off with none.  

            •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
              I think in some ways you put into words many things I have been thinking.

              I have also felt that maybe those of us on the left have never understood that for all of our faults which are many that as a superpower we have historically been very good about not abusing our power. The french and english were every bit if not worse in the way the weilded power in the past. The german's and japaninese were worse. We of course had the spanish american war and the problem with iran in the 50's and the support of the shaw, saddam, the afgan resistance israeal without regard to human rights and the saudis.

              I was against gulf 2 mostly because the didn't have the guts to say that we were going because he sucked. It would have opened the door to intervening in many places in the world. burma, africa in many places columbia etc. We also have to remember that china has horrid internal human rights problems and india cast system is an abomination democracy or not. Musharif has begged for money to change the madras into real schools in pakistan. Pardon the spelling errors but liberal need to remember that nothing stays the same and progress is two forward and one back and always will be.

      •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (3.40)
        NASTY ARGUMENT TIME

        If, as you say, McAuliffe has strong ties to every faction in the Democratic party,  how come I've not felt that for years.  I see McAuliffe as the agent of the DLC,  with which I have little sympathy.  I don't see McAuliffe as representing progressives,  or the activist rank and file.

        You concur that McAuliffe is an appartchik,  but believe that is his proper role.  That amounts to an endorsement of control by the party Establishment,  and resistance to change.  While I believe the party's elected should have an influence on it, they should not own it.

        In McLuhan's famous words, "the medium  is the message."  If the DNC is corporate gray,  what is the party?

        About Labor

        There is a difference between representing Labor in the party,  and being the party of Labor.

        I don't agree with everything the AFL-CIO does.  I my younger days,  I was part of a successful independent organizing effort.  Our difference in principle with the AFL-CIO was that workers should have a say in policy.  You must not become a robot in exchange for a wage.  Underlying this difference is a different conception of the union member,  one that denies the role of many union bosses.

        Unions often make themselves into the "vanguard of the proletariat,"  a view and practice I reject.

        For those reasons,  I don't welcome Union control of the Democratic party.  I do welcome Unions into the party,  and hope the workers they represent will take a more direct role in the party.  The issue is Rank and File democracy.

        I find it interesting that SEIU and AFSCME,  which have many independent-minded locals, have endorsed Dr Dean - which is also my choice.

        You make me out an opponent of grass roots organizing,  which the foregoing shows I am not.  I am definitely FOR MORE GRASSROOTS AND LESS BOSS.

        Party Policy

        Your statement just agrees with McAuliffe's perception of his role.  

        The party platform significantly disagrees with the actual policies implemented by recently elected Democratic officials.  For example,  we are on record as proposing a NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE (SINGLE PAYER, MEDICARE FOR EVERYONE),  not national health insurance.  [Dr Dean, note.]

        I am FOR TAKING THE PLATFORM SERIOUSLY.  This means ideology must be a significant factor in the DNC.

        Your view - supporting McAULIFFE that the DNC is a mere tool to win elections - leads to a party that only exists to win elections.  In other words, holding office is the goal,  not pursuit of certain policies.  In that case,  it matters not what one believes or says;  yours is the case for opportunism.

        It is true the North and South can unite behind the banner of opportunism.  The problem lies in what happens when two opposing hands grab the levers of power.  Does the machine of State just go straight ahead,  or zig and zag, or maybe go crazy?

        I believe it better to have a consistent hand on the levers for the term of office.  George Bush is a good example of that.  This should energize opponents to challenge and take over.

        I think what lies behind our different views is this:  you are for "muddling through" whereas I am for clear cut strategies.  The Republicans have been winning because they put forward such clear cut positions,  whereas we express confusion.  (See recent discussion on who we are.)

        Dumping Terry McAuliffe should be the first step in re-organizing the Democratic party into a more rank-and-file, policy oriented body.

        This is not to say we should ignore raising money and winning elections. It's just that we have to have a reason to win.

        Huge Advances?

        As others have pointed out,  the million person database is nothing.  The other side has had a much larger database,  and the means of making it effective, for years.

        [BTW,  I have personally created and supported million person databases.  It's not that hard to do.]

        I just reiterate my point that Democrats are light years behind in the technology race. This is partly due to the excessive dependence on, and influence of, Big Labor.

        I heard Bill Clinton remark recently that he is still computer illiterate.  In that respect, he represents the Democratic party well.  I think that has something to do with Clinton's choice of McAuliffe.

        Dr Dean's campaign has nearly equalled years of McAuliffe's efforts in just a few months.  This shows a new and different approach works better.

        PALEO mentionned that maybe Joe Trippi would replace McAuliffe,  if Dean is the nominee.  I take no position on that,  but I do believe Trippi's methods have been more effective than McAuliffe's.

        Is the Party Effective?

        This is the ultimate, materialist question:  did whatever McAuliffe is doing work?

        Clearly,  the answer is NO. That is why I am for change.

        •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
          "If, as you say, McAuliffe has strong ties to every faction in the Democratic party,  how come I've not felt that for years.  I see McAuliffe as the agent of the DLC,  with which I have little sympathy.  I don't see McAuliffe as representing progressives,  or the activist rank and file."

          Walter, I can simply point to facts, explain the purposes of the DNC, and context in which it operates.  I can't explain why it doesn't match what you have "felt" or what you "see."  

          •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
            Obviously,  in 'simply pointing to the facts,' what is a fact to you is not so to me.

            I have no idea why what I feel or see is quoted,  as if those things were a phantom.  I think you should take it that I dispute your claim about the facts.

            I have a lot of acquaintances who feel equally unrepresented.  In fact,  I get pulled a lot by very old friends who say, 'it's hopeless' or 'vote Green.'

            So, I repeat my view that McAuliffe represents the DLC faction,  and not the whole party.  I don't think McAuliffe has strong ties to progressives.

      •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
        Great work, DHnMI.
    •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
      When we win, everything looks better. even the things you don't like. what's wrong with being associated with a winning president, e.g.
      •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (3.00)
        Winning isn't everything.

        Although a supporter of Dr Dean,  I have cautionned my acquaintances against being too enthusiastic.  There is a Napoleonic tendency in all campaigns.

        I worked hard to get Clinton elected in 1992, but stopped supporting him after Welfare Reform.  (We can trade brick bats over that, if you like.)  I didn't support many of the eventual Clinton policies.

        You have to work even harder to keep elected officials "honest."  Once elected, our officials can do whatever they want for quite some time. So, the struggle never ends.

        There's nothing inherently wrong with "being associated with a winner."  Nonetheless, the question is what does being associated with a winner mean?

        •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (3.00)
          No brickbats. I was kinda pissed at the Big Dog after Monica. But I liked or could live with most of the policies and loved not having to play defense on every judge or important bill.

          I don't hate Clintonistas but don't long for Hillary either. And I don't blame McAuliffe for every error made by a Dem politician, and won't give McAuliffe grief if he fixes the GOTV problem.

          I understand the idea of not being beholden to special interests, but if the unions help you get there, at least listen to what they have to say. ASFCME and SEIU are the future, Teamsters are the past, but they are all worth listening to.

          Look, if I thought winning was everything, I'd be a GOoPer. And admire them for Flordia. which I don't. But if, let's say, Clinton (either one) decided to endorse Dean, I'd make the most of it. Same with the unions.

          •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (3.71)
            We have to stop calling unions "a special interest".  It isn't the case.  What unions fight for makes the workplace and the economy better for the whole.  That's not a special interest.  What they fight is a special interest.  Democrats doing things like calling labor "a special interest" is the reason we are in the political mess we are in.  

            People who make statements saying they don't want to be beholden to unions, don't sound like rank and file Democrats (or democrats).  The places where democracy is strongest are the places where the trade union movement is the strongest, where trade unions are a recognized equal component of the process (not a "special" interest, but a collective one).  

            •  Unions are not special interests (none)
              I understand and agree... I was trying to think like those who claim they are. Unions are working people and working people vote.
            •  Definition, please (2.50)
               We have to stop calling unions "a special interest".  It isn't the case.

              Yes it is.  Unions have an interest.  They're interests are not the same as others (eg environmentalists ). By definition they are unique, or special, to themselves.  I guess we could call the "unique interests" or "progressive interests" or some other rebranding to help the cause, but don't think that the Unions, or any other constituency, isn't a "special interest" just because they happen to agree with you.

               What unions fight for makes the workplace and the economy better for the whole.  

              Baloney. I am a white collar professional whose life is made  more convenient by the efforts of America's working class.  I am supporting the grocery strike here in S. Cal  because I have a conscience, but the crass fact is my workplace, with daily catered meals and extensive support staffs, would be improved by the crushing of the service unions.

               The places where democracy is strongest are the places where the trade union movement is the strongest,

              Really? Like the Teamsters?  Or the union we were discussing yesterday that Kos described as "Top Down," where the Leadership was imposing it's viewpoint on the rank-and-file?  Or perhaps you had some other definitions of "democracy."

              •  Re: Definition, please (none)
                Congratulations on being a white collar professional.  I hope you take the same pride in saying that when your bosses figure out a way to either move your job to someplace where it can be done for a tenth as much as you get, or bringing in an educated L1 or H1B worker to do your job and, if you're lucky, pays you to train said worker.  Then you can move on to a highly fulfilling and rewarding career in that service industry.

                We'll see if your viewpoint regarding service unions remains the same.

                In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; in practice, however, there is.

                by DemInTampa on Sat Nov 22, 2003 at 06:37:03 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Re: Definition, please (none)
                  Ah, the outsourcing canard.  See, my job has already been outsourced, in the sense that my job never required being in America in the first place.  Generally, and I am over-generalizing here, if your job is vulnerable to overseas outsourcing than you should have been further developing your skills in the first place.  Been there, done that, and I'll probably have to do it a couple of more times before I'm done.

                  Moreover, I am not a rascist.  If some brown-skinned person can do my job as well as I can, s/he deserves to beat me out of that paycheck -- s/he has a family too, and s/he  worked hard at their education..  

                  Moving on, you did not seem read my post closely.  I did NOT say I support smashing the service unions. I am supporting the grocery strike here in S. Cal. at (minor) inconvenience to myself.  My point was solely that Gilas girl's claim that unions help  alll workplaces was a bit wide of the mark: even with  the outsourcing bogeyman you shook in front of me, my work-place would be furthered by smashing those unions.   Luckily I and the people I work with can see past the end our metaphorical noses and do NOT support such smashing.

                  Hope that helps.

              •  Re: Definition, please (4.00)
                Baloney. I am a white collar professional whose life is made  more convenient by the efforts of America's working class.  I am supporting the grocery strike here in S. Cal  because I have a conscience, but the crass fact is my workplace, with daily catered meals and extensive support staffs, would be improved by the crushing of the service unions.

                My goodness, but you are short-sighted though, aren't you?  Your workplace consists of more than just white collar professionals, though, no?  Somebody has to serve you those catered meals and clean the toilets.  You've just engagad in a "special interest" interpretation by excluding parts of your own workplace.  And your explanation excludes completely the benefit that is gained even by your special interest workplace when an ethos of worker rights and interests as a vital piece of business-decision making becomes the norm.  That's what one means by democracy and collective interests, not just short-term and norrowly-defined parochial ones.  

                As for the trade-union movement and democracy, look globally and historically.  The US trade-union movement is very weak, hence democracy is very weak, both within the movment itself and in the larger society.  European social welfare democracies, and historically the role of trade unions in providing a basis for and the support of democracy in the governments and societies where they are found.  Part of the reason there aren't any democracies in the Middle East is because colonial and Cold War interests led Western powers to eliminate the trade union movements and their activists.  In most "developing" and "democratizing" nations that's a key link in forging democracies.  The contemporary US labor movement is a very weak shadow of a trade union movement and many of the problems in the movement can be at least partially explained by the weak nature of the movement (as trade unions go).  If we ever had a "trade union" movement, it was replaced by a "labor" movement and even that has been sucessively weakened since the 1950's.  

                •  Re: Definition, please (none)
                  My goodness, but you are short-sighted though, aren't you

                   And you, dear, are astigmatic.

                  You've just engagad in a "special interest" interpretation by excluding parts of your own workplace.

                  Wonderful, so we agree on the original point:  Unions are a special interest, although rebranding under some politicaly more potent moniker might be useful.

                  And your explanation excludes completely the benefit that is gained even by your special interest workplace when an ethos of worker rights and interests as a vital piece of business-decision making becomes the norm.

                  First, having Augustin and his wife, the wonderful souls who clean our toilets, "as a vital piece of business-decision making" in my work place would be a disaster. Some decisions only get degraded by committees.   Second, one does not necessarily need a Union to achieve the goal you seem to be outlining:  Recognizing each for the human being that they are and treating each with the dignity and respect such recognition requires seems to go a long way in that direction[+]

                  As for interpretation of history and the "democratizing" nature of unions, let's agree that you think I am myopic and I think you are astigmatic and leave it at that.  I suspect neither of us will convince the other, so let's save the electrons.

                  But I did notice that you completely ducked the issue of unions discussed right here on dKos that seem to have difficulites practicing democracy within their own ranks.

                  [+]  An example for you: Augustin is a sub-contractor, and his boss was being a total Cheney-sized Dick.  We found out about it and put the squeeze on the contractor, including helping Augustin build a small claims court case.  

                  •  Re: Definition, please (none)
                    Wonderful, so we agree on the original point:  Unions are a special interest, although rebranding under some politicaly more potent moniker might be useful.

                    No, we haven't agreed on anything, did you not read what I wrote.  Your interpretation of your own workplace is an example of a "special interest" because it is short-sighted and narrowly parochial (only the white collar professionals benefit from the unions being wiped out -- a classic example of a "special interest".  Unions on the other hand are struggling for something that is not simply for a small group of people, but improves for the whole, improves for something beyond their own "parochial" interests.

                    Did you not read what I wrote?

                    •  Re: Definition, please (none)
                      Did you not read what I wrote?  

                      I read everything your wrote --- particularly your complete aversion to actual, real-word examples.

                      Based on my personal experiences (I've  turned down a union card) and my family's experience (my grandfather was active in his union, once upon-time, to give one example), you're assertion that  

                      Unions .. are struggling for something that is not simply for a small group of people, but improves for the whole, improves for something beyond their own "parochial" interests.

                      is so far removed from the real world as I and others have experienced it that I suspect we will continue to talk right past each other.

                      Once again: I am not saying "Union =Bad."  I am  saying "Union=good, unconditionally" is a dangerously simplistic  wordlview. "Unions are working are the betterment of all us" is every bit as vapid as "Compassionate conservatism."

                      Unions are not Platonic ideals.  They are prone  to the full range of human failings, parochial and more, however beautiful their motivating vision. When unions function well, which is not a given, they  lookout for their members and try to expand their membership.  That's cool. It's what they "should" be doing, and can be a "good thing."  If they're not going to lookout for their members, why would anyone beyond a few idealists put up with the hassle?

                      hope that helps.

                      •  Re: Definition, please (none)
                        Once again: I am not saying "Union =Bad."  I am  saying "Union=good, unconditionally" is a dangerously simplistic  wordlview. "Unions are working are the betterment of all us" is every bit as vapid as "Compassionate conservatism."

                        It does clear things up, but we'll have to disagree.  There's nothing vapid about it; and there is ample, global evidence that a strong trade union movment moves a nation into a state of being for its people that meets most modern criteria of health, wealth and welfare for the people and from which, actual existing experiences of democracy can grow and spreach throughout the rest of the society.  When workers interests are recognized as a vital part of the economy and equal in importance to other economic and metrics, then poverty is decreased (and not simply for the members of the trade union) and democracy is planted and has a basis from which it can develop.  As DHinMi also points out, here in the US at least, voter participation is increased where union membership exists.  The US is a bad "real-world" example of what I am talking about (and yes, I have real-world experience with observing and having benefitted from a union affiliation, in the family I married into, as well as having grown up in a multi-generational extended family that survived as the non-unionized workforce of the southern textile industry, so I've seen/experienced both sides of the question).  DHinMi and others here are more optimistic about the US labor movement than I, for I fear it is far too weak and the US population far too propagandized against labor as a special interest, for the movement to have the kind of impact it does globally; this is what I mean when I say the US labor movement is no trade union movement and it a weak movement overall, thereby making it a not particularly good example of the phenomenon I am referring to globally.  

                        You seem to want to claim US "real world" experience as the only valuable kind.  (I also have a lot of distrust of US senses of the "democratic" as we've been propagandized about that for so long as well, that what we understand democracy/democratic structures to be is a weak shadow of actually existing democracies.)  But, I suspect you would find that vapid as well.  

              •  Re: Definition, please (none)
                I have sympathy with tylerh's point of view. Us well-paid progressives feel pretty left out. We have money and time and don't have to be sold on the dangers of giving Bush 4 more years. Being the party of labor does not resonate - it alienates (at least a little). No one appreciates us - why can't we hope the Party pays attention to us?

                I really understand the value of the labor movement and think that it's a big part of the answer for the service workers that are not paid a living wage. But, it's not been that effective to date - not like it was for manufacturing.

                I lived in Texas until I was 40 and can tell you that being the party of labor does not help the Dems in the South or Texas. I was pretty aggresively brainwashed for 40 years against labor - and despite the fact that I've been a life long liberal there is still a nagging concern there - Jimmy Hoffa, corruption, etc. People in the South often have no positive experiences to draw on with labor.

                •  Re: Definition, please (3.50)
                  Why should you care about organized labor?

                  Because the Republicans have no interest in the rights of workers, period. No matter who you are, where you are, or what color your collar might be. The conservative world works best when the employer has absolute power over the employee, the husband has absolute power over the wife, the believer has absolute power over the heretic, and the past has absolute power over the future. Don't think that this doesn't apply to you too.

                  "Are we still, and if so on what grounds, Galilean and Cartesian?" Alain Badiou, Manifesto for Philosophy

                  by Niky Ring on Sat Nov 22, 2003 at 09:27:18 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Re: Definition, please (none)
                    Right.  Exactly.  Hence the term: "Cheap Labor Conservatives."
                  •  Nice strawman, there (none)
                    The conservative world works best when the employer has absolute power over the employee, the husband has absolute power over the wife, the believer has absolute power over the heretic, and the past has absolute power over the future.

                    "Absolute" this and "absolute that": Do you actually have any friends who consider themselves concervatives?  Your description is a nice stereotyping of the thrust of some conservative thought, but if you actually think this accurately describes the tens of millions of Americans who regularly  "vote red" then you really need to get out more.

                    •  Re: Nice strawman, there (none)
                      "Absolute" this and "absolute that": Do you actually have any friends who consider themselves concervatives?  Your description is a nice stereotyping of the thrust of some conservative thought, but if you actually think this accurately describes the tens of millions of Americans who regularly  "vote red" then you really need to get out more.

                      No, I didn't say that at all.

                      I'm speaking of the ultimate and perfect conservative world, which is absolutist, and I'd be surprised if anyone argued otherwise. That is, mainstream conservatives can very easily articulate their ideal world by pointing to their version of the early 1950s. It's not too far off from how Marxism used to be, before that parade got rained on by the political reality.

                      The conservative world is predicated on traditional hierarchy, specifically the hierarchies I mentioned. That's why white-collar workers should be concerned with the plight of blue-collar workers and workers' rights in general: because the perfect conservative world would have all employees subject to their employers and the whims of the market - defining them as 'employees' in the ABSOLUTE sense, rather than as people with lives, families, and political views of their own.

                      Individual 'conservatives', if we wish to include everybody who self-identifies as such, don't reflect these beliefs at all; they are quite diverse in their beliefs, and I can only hope that the Republicans will eventually reflect this diversity in the way that they used to.

                      Yes, I do have many conservative friends; living in North Carolina, one can't avoid it, even if one is a queer liberal.

                      Living within, knowing, and attempting to understand a 'red state' is a nuanced, complex, and confusing process that I know well; that doesn't mean that conservative ideology is not, overall, absolutist in the sense of the world it would like to create.

                      "Are we still, and if so on what grounds, Galilean and Cartesian?" Alain Badiou, Manifesto for Philosophy

                      by Niky Ring on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 08:56:04 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

            •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
              Absolutely right.  For all their faults, unions are indispensible to a modern democracy.  I don't think people realize that without a union contract they are "employees-at-will," with NO rights at the workplace.  That's right, you leave the Bill of Rights at the door when you walk through that factory gate OR office door.  YOu can be fired for expressing a political view your boss doesn't like (hell, you can be fired just for talking to your fellow employees).  
              Workplace democracy is impossible without unions.  And a broader democracy is hard to imagine, too. I know that many middle-class professionals don't often run into that kind of repression.  But they could. My rights shouldn't depend on my boss's convenience, or even his good will.  Tom Geoghegan, in a nice little book, WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON, suggested the labor movement should be thought of as a civil rights movement--not merely an interest group.
        •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
          <i>Winning isn't everything</i>

          You are flat wrong. In 2004 winning will be everything. This nation is heading very much in the wrong direction and it is doing so fast. We stop this disastor by winning in 2004, or the US will become as much different from what it started to be as the Roman Republic changed into the Roman empire.

          Winning in 2004 IS everything, or the American Republic is nothing.

          •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
            Rick has raised a really interesting and important issue, writing:

            "... the US will become as much different from what it started to be as the Roman Republic changed into the Roman empire."

            I have thought, discussed and written about this a lot.  I cannot write a book here,  so I summarize some of my tenative conclusions.  I hope that isn't too oppressive,  but we can argue the disputed points later, one by one.

            I think we crossed our Rubicon sometime between Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima.  A Canadian wrote a book, "The New Romans," in the 1960s.  I've taken it as settled for decades that the United States is an Imperialist power in foreign affairs.

            For me,  the questions have been (1) is this reversible, and (2) if not, how long before the government degenerates into some form of dictatorship?  Rome and Athens are examples of the degeneracy,  whereas Britain is a recent counterexample.  The British Empire and the USSR are examples that Imperialism is reversible without an immediately following Dark Age.

            As I see it,  King George (Pres Bush) is the latest symptom of our Imperial State,  not the cause of it. This is a key disagreement I have with your statement.  Thus, defeating Bush next year will be a step in the other direction,  but there is much, much more work to do beyond that.  I don't put all my eggs in the election basket.

            There is the further, more general, question about the meaning and direction (if any) of history, and American history specifically.  I think the US has reached its peak of power and influence,  and will start declining in a decade or two.  China and India will displace the US as the leading powers sometime this century.

            This is good for us,  as maybe we can follow the example of Great Britain and Europe generally.  We might be less aggressive and warlike, and more comfortably a welfare state.  The Europeans have been able to sink into the depravity of a more comfortable existence,  by being spectators of, not contestants in, the great Cold War and post-modern gladiatorial exhibits.

            The most important thing is changing the "American mind."  Americans believe we can go about doing right in the world - as one of the participants in this discussion seems to believe.  This is the ingrained American "exceptionalism" embodied in the Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny and, lately, "pre-emptive strategy." It is the belief that we know what is right,  that what we do is right,  and everyone benefits from our presence and actions.

            I believe those opinions or cultural values are wrong.  That is what needs to be changed, hopefully starting with the 2004 election.

            •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
              For me, the questions have been (1) is this reversible, and (2) if not, how long before the government degenerates into some form of dictatorship? Rome and Athens are examples of the degeneracy, whereas Britain is a recent counterexample. The British Empire and the USSR are examples that Imperialism is reversible without an immediately following Dark Age.

              The US is, in my opinion, too large and too diverse to become an effective dictatorship overall. Because of that the federal government is made up of too many people with their own local power bases. The President cannot effectively control the Legislature, and the House and Senate will never be totally controlled by any single individual, although apparently the House can be more easily controlled than the Senate can.

              That being the case, there is currently a drift towards dictatorial government (the secrecy in the Executive is the key to that.) but it will be stopped by the self-interest of powers in the Legislature and by the governors.

              When historians publicize the utter disastor this admininstration has been, the politicians who have supported it will run for the hills and avoid any administration of support. The reaction to this administration will be soon and will be extreme.

            •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
              There is the further, more general, question about the meaning and direction (if any) of history, and American history specifically. I think the US has reached its peak of power and influence, and will start declining in a decade or two. China and India will displace the US as the leading powers sometime this century.

              Actually, the economic decline of America was clear from the late 1960's on. The only reason it wasn't obvious prior to that was that the US was the only major industrial nation that survived WW II undestroyed, and the rest were all rebuilding.

              Then the Cold War helped to conceal the decline. As productive as America was, much of the results of that productivity was being drained into the military. That is the major single reason why America is the one remaining industrial nation without universal health care. We have remained more productive in part by not taking care of a large number of the most severely ill.

              Then since 1991 we have continued to keep nearly as much military expenditure as during the Cold War. Our major competitors have put that portion of their GDP into social programs and improvement of their economy, so that we have become even less competitive.

              The third thing that has concealed our decline is the fact that the dollar has remained the international currency. Right now the Chinese are holding the dollar up by buying our bonds from the massive federal deficit. That is unlikely to last much longer. Remove that and start pricing international oil in Euros, and we are headed for an Argentina-type crash.

              I agree that the US has reached the peak of its power. The economic bases of most of it are weak and in trouble, but the military has remained at its peak - until we invaded Iraq. Our ground forces are now almost entirely tied up in Afghanistan, Iraq, and 37,000 in South Korea. any further expansion of opearations can only be met by reducing training even more and by extending tour beyond one year. Increased recruiting would take a year to 18 months to become marginally helpful.

              I don't know that India and China will displace the US as ~the~ leading powers because neither have the economic resources the US does and population is not the only basis for international power. They will certainly be the most significant powers for us to consider, however.

              That is my opinion, anyway.

        •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
          In regards to Welfare Reform...

          What would you have suggested as an alternative way to fix the problems inherent to that system?

          •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
            Another important and complex question.

            My understanding is this:  about 20% of peak caseloads persist over the business cycle.  In other words,  about 20% of the maximum number of welfare households are permanently unemployable.

            My experience as a social worker in the 1960s - admittedly a long time ago - was that training programs usually don't work well.  The training is almost always about skills needed yesterday.

            The Clinton-Republican welfare reform was and is an attempt to push people back into Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times."

            Turning to your point,  I would have avoided making Clinton's Welfare Reform deal.  I don't think Clinton had to sacrifice the poor to win more points with the 'burbs and get elected.

            We are already NOT seeing the results of this disastrous policy.  People are running out of 5 year limits.  You don't see them because they are being made to disappear into the woodwork.  But, they are there.  When I come back from Sacramento,  the shopping carts and cardboard flops are back under causeway.   It's like the Reagan depression in 1982 all over again.

            I am very distressed and disgusted that Democrats, especially DLC Democrats, and Republicans have crossed the line in ignoring and oppressing the poor, the helpless, the needy.  Am I a bleeding heart?  Not exactly,  but I remember well what Parmenides said after Socrates presented his case:  'Now, Socrates, I've heard how everything in your world works.  It is so well put together, and I grant it seems perfect in every detail. But, I am bothered by a few little things:  What are you going to do about hair, mud and filth?'  [my paraphrase of Plato's PARMENIDES; 'mud' meant feces and 'filth,' sewer garbage]

            What would I have done?  (1) Recognize that there is a minimal on-going caseload. [The poor will always be with us.]  (2) Go along with the training programs,  but no lifetime limits.  [Do the best you can with what you've got.]  (3) Remove program rules that split up families.  [Why make things worse?]  (4)  Encourage and even require some form of non-specific, non-vocational additional education where appropriate.  [Life is more than a job.] (5) Try to figure out what is the most humane thing to do about poverty, disability and unemployment.  [We don't have to wait for Scrooge's 3 ghosts to teach us.]

            One of the most successful "workfare" programs ever was the WPA.  I would do it again,  keeping in mind the really democratic socialist nature of the program.  Ordinary people got grants to do useless work,  and in the process made enduring landmarks,  and many of them were useful.  The WPA worked because it asked unemployed people what they would like to do,  and then found ways to let them do it.

            That is the approach I would have tried.

            •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
              I am very distressed and disgusted that Democrats, especially DLC Democrats, and Republicans have crossed the line in ignoring and oppressing the poor, the helpless, the needy.

              And you wonder why people keep leaving the Democratic party to vote Republican.

              You've successfully ignored the root problems with the Welfare system, and attacked anybody who wished to point them out and fix them as "oppressing the poor".

              Well I for one don't think having to work for a living is oppression.

  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
    umm walter it seems like the replacement you're looking for is well joe trippi.

    some others last week commented how if dean was elected next year, he would dump mcauliffe and put trippi in charge. initially i thought to myself that trippi wasnt built for the job. he doesnt seem to be much of a true blue believer ideolougue and he doesnt appear to be much of a policy wonk. but the guy is amazing at building organization and is very apt. he is very much a forest guy instead of the trees guy. process over policy. so i think trippi would be a great improvement over mcauliffe.
    i like james carville as well as replacement although carville seems to be the inverse of trippi's style. carville seems like he would be more of a micromanager dnc chairman, while trippi is a macrmanager. but trippi and/or carville would
    do very well as a replacement.

  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
    GOTV is absolutely crucial to '04.  With effective GOTV, we can win; without it, we will almost surely lose.  To the extent McAuliffe is concentrating on that, I say, bravo, keep up the good work!

    As to message, the head of the DNC is certainly a player, but s/he can't be either the only player or the public leader.  The fact that the "Democratic brand" is incoherent is at least as much the fault of the party's leading politicians as it is the DNC's.  For crying out loud, that's a big part of why they're elected.

    And please, could we avoid the silly baseball-manager phenomenon?  "Oh, we lost the game, time to fire the manager."  Scapegoats might be useful as window dressing and comforting to the superstitious, but they are rarely the cause of -- or solution to -- the problem.

  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (3.75)
    This is a very interesting discussion, and points up a lot of why we are where we are as a party.

    The Dems are the horse-trading party. We pay each other's interests with filty lucre in return for our own bag of coin. This is, of course, part of any political conversation, but we took it to an extreme when we were the majority party, and two of the biggest extortionists in this system were AARP and Big Labor. The AARP is now hopelessly compromised and corrupted by becoming a business itself, and Big labor, in many ways, became partners w/ the Corporations in screwing over new and younger workers. Then the Corps started to whittle them down to size.

    I watched several of my uncles go through the bloodbath at Caterpillar & John Deere back in the eighties. Walked the line, followed the leadership, and were sold out. Period. As the big unions became entrenched, they stopped looking out for Workers, and started looking out for members only. Then they supported older, high ranking members. The Corps and Rethugs screamed 'special interest', younger workers looked at the unions, saw that they were more than willing to stick them with lower pay, lower benefits and no job security, and said 'fuck them'.

    I'm glad that Labor has foot soldiers to lend to the effort, but they need to broaden their fights for all workers, as they did when they started. I see signs of this. I'd like to see more.

    We've had the discussion several times here on what our central message should be. We need, as a party, to define and fight for that message, and not for specific groups under our umbrella. We need to fight together as allies, not join forces as mercenaries.

    We zap and maim ... With the bravery of being out of range We strafe the train ... With the bravery of being out of range We gain terrain ... With the b

    by Madman in the marketplace on Sat Nov 22, 2003 at 04:41:34 PM PST

  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
    I've been in the DNC.  I've seen Kos on screens.  Just thought I'd let y'all know...
  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (3.00)
    This is a wonderful post. I don't agree, but nonetheless a thorough argument.

    Bottomline for me: I don't SEE or FEEL the positive influence of McAuliffe. And when I see him in the media his points are less than persuasive.

    This brings up the point of leadership and the bully pulpit. It may be that behind the scene Terry has been doing good strategic planning. It may be that this planning takes many election cycles to provide the desired results. It may be. As Judy says, "It could happen"

    We need a leader to be a leader. We need a unifying force. If Terry is so good at planning let him plan, but as the out front CHAIRMAN of the party he doesn't seem to get the job done.

    We need a different, and more agressive face out front. We need someone who not just rebuts but espouses an appealing future for the Democratic Party. WE need more from our leader than planning. We need a fighter with charisma.

  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
    I thought that this was a very well done analysis and brought up a good deal of debate. I have to say, though, to some of the commenters- I consider myself a DLC guy (though I don't like the hatchet job they have tried on Dean) and I have NEVER felt as though Terry Mac was one of us. Everytime I see him on TV all I can think of is how much of a vapid money man he is. Now, I fully realize the head of the DNC is not necessarily going to be an egghead policy wonk, but I do think we want a spokesperson who will have some policy gravitas.
    •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (3.50)
      I think that the only thing thehead of the DNC can do is organize the Democratic party. Now I don't know if this article is right that he's doing a fantastic job of that or not, but being a policy wonk in that position is kind of useless. Trippi might be better at the head of the DNC, even though he ISN'T a policy wonk, but is instead just an outstanding political organizer.
  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
    DHinMI,

    This is too long an intro to the subject.  You should shoot for no more than a third of this amount of text.

    "Build a man a fire and you warm him for a day; set a man on fire and you warm him for the rest of his life."--unknown

    by Carl Nyberg on Sat Nov 22, 2003 at 06:40:20 PM PST

  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
    This was a very cleverly done puff piece to attempt to save McAuliffe, but one based on untruths and spin.

    To claim that McAuliffe was supported by all wings of the party is a flat out lie. The left never supported these corporate toadie DLC'ers. Rewrite history as you will.. a lie is a lie.

    Next the piece gives McAuliffe credit for every seat won by the democrats.. then carefully purges him for any fault in losing seats. By that measure if a democrat won a single school board seat and the gop took every seat in all three branches of federal government he's an unqualified success.

    As another very wise poster put it above.. one reason the gop wins is they punish failure and bring in new blood. We've lost both houses of congress, the executive branch and even the judiciary. We have people like Zell Miller being sicked on Dean (you can bet the DLC'ers/GOP'ers have a hand in that). Yet McAuliffe,the DLC etc have nothing to do with it.

    Id suggest people able of that kind of doublethink belong in the republican party. It reminds me a lot of their spin on Herr Bush.

    •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (3.25)
      "This was a very cleverly done puff piece to attempt to save McAuliffe, but one based on untruths and spin."

      Thank you for attributing to me the power to save Terry McAuliffe's job.  I've obviously been grossly underestimating my ability to shape events in the world of politics.  I'm going to talk to Kos about a raise--you know, an increase from my current rate of $0 per post.

      "To claim that McAuliffe was supported by all wings of the party is a flat out lie."

      If that's true, I'd welcome any evidence that any wings of the "party"--the members of the Democratic National Committee that actually have a vote--opposed McAuliffe.  You know what, I'm feeling charitable, so I'll give you two--several members of the CBC who supported the late Maynard Jackson, and the Teamsters, who were pissed because they felt McAuliffe was too close to former Teamsters President Ron Carey.  But you're going to have to define "The Left" in a way that also includes it as a faction of the Democratic party.

      "The left never supported these corporate toadie DLC'ers. Rewrite history as you will.. a lie is a lie."

      One of the chairs of McAuliffe's campaign for DNC chair was Gerald McEntee, President of that well-known reactionary and Dean-hating organization known as AFSCME.  McAuliffe was also supported by the "right wingers" over at the SEIU, who so clearly hate Howard Dean and his challenge to the party orthodoxy.  

      "Next the piece gives McAuliffe credit for every seat won by the democrats.. then carefully purges him for any fault in losing seats."

      This is either an incompetant or dishonest characterization of what I wrote.  In fact, I pointed out the opposite of what you accuse me of--my point was that McAuliffe only gets blame for failure and no credit for success.  

      "As another very wise poster put it above.. one reason the gop wins is they punish failure and bring in new blood. We've lost both houses of congress, the executive branch and even the judiciary. We have people like Zell Miller being sicked on Dean (you can bet the DLC'ers/GOP'ers have a hand in that). Yet McAuliffe,the DLC etc have nothing to do with it."

      Well know, my post is "one based on untruths and spin" but yours isn't?  So, we controlled the White House when Terry McAuliffe took over the DNC in 2001?  We controlled the House of Representatives when Terry McAuliffe took over the DNC in 2001?  The Senate?  (Before you get worked up, we did not control the Senate until the Spring of 2001.)  But your post, supposedly free of "untruths and spin" associates Terry McAuliffe with all these losses.  And please, point me to the section in the DNC's constitution--in the U.S. Constitution for that matter--that describes the disciplanary authority over U.S. Senators that is entrusted with the Chair of the Democratic National Committee.

      "Id suggest people able of that kind of doublethink belong in the republican party. It reminds me a lot of their spin on Herr Bush."

      Glass houses my friend, glass houses...

      •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
        "Thank you for attributing to me the power to save Terry McAuliffe's job.  I've obviously been grossly underestimating my ability to shape events in the world of politics.  I'm going to talk to Kos about a raise--you know, an increase from my current rate of $0 per post."

        Words have power. Blogs have power. Being posted on the KOS front page definitely has power. Dont pretend thats not true.

        "If that's true, I'd welcome any evidence that any wings of the "party"--the members of the Democratic National Committee that actually have a vote--opposed McAuliffe."

        I was apparently misinformed. I was of the belief that the democratic party consists of the people who register Democratic, work for the party, vote for the party, attend conventions etc. I now understand that the "Democratic party" consists of the political hacks making backroom deals in Washington and the state capitols. Forgive us mere peasants for daring to dream we were the democratic party.

        "One of the chairs of McAuliffe's campaign for DNC chair was Gerald McEntee, President of that well-known reactionary and Dean-hating organization known as AFSCME.  McAuliffe was also supported by the "right wingers" over at the SEIU, who so clearly hate Howard Dean and his challenge to the party orthodoxy"

        It seems once again ive made the mistake of believing what most of America terms as the left.. people who generally oppose war, want strong environmental protection, believe using american power to do evil is wrong, believe helping the poor, the weak, and those who cant help themselves.. aren't in fact the left. Apparently the left consists of a handful of union politicians and .. once again.. backroomers in the centers of power.

        "This is either an incompetant or dishonest characterization of what I wrote.  In fact, I pointed out the opposite of what you accuse me of--my point was that McAuliffe only gets blame for failure and no credit for success.  "

        No.. what you do is tout his Masterful job and dismiss the massive losses. Such doublethink allows revisionists to claim hitler was a great general and that FDR wasnt one of the greatest presidents in the US. I think you know WHICH revisionist group im talking about.

        " And please, point me to the section in the DNC's constitution--in the U.S. Constitution for that matter--that describes the disciplanary authority over U.S. Senators that is entrusted with the Chair of the Democratic National Committee."

        Your 'point' is rambling and rather mushy but allow me to help you. From your "insider outlook" id think you'd realise this but apparently not. The democratic party controls massive amounts of funds ..even in bad years which it directs to campaigns all over the country. It also has other abilities like recruiting alternative candidates.
        You will undoubtably claim this has no effect yada yada. You may remember a few years ago a young teacher, i believe it was in texas.. driving around door to door to get votes. The party dismissed him and didnt put any money or support into his campaign. He lost.. by a narrow margin. Meanwhile the party was pushing dumptruck loads of money into the big boys. But im sure you'll happily ignore this. You may note something else.

        A little over a decade ago a young conservative democrat was introduced to the party. He had big inside connections and the press got a wink and a nod about who would be the candidate in the end. It was pretty blatant when he lost a primary but the press declared him the winner because he hadnt come in last. His name was Bill Clinton. The party apparatchiks have quite a lot of power.

        If they had used that power to replace republicrats like that scumbag Zell Miller with honest to god democrats and not party hacks and repugnicrats it is my personal belief
        we would have never lost the house or senate and most likely not the presidency. But the DLC'ers (i use that as a general label of dishonor to label all the 'conservative democrats' who sold out the people we claim to want to help) instead moved farther and farther right. Now the party apparatus is pro-corporate, old-definition conservative on all things economic and most things social. And theres very little difference between that rightward wing of the democratic party and republicans of the past.

        You see if we have to be republicans to win... then there is no point in winning. Its not about power. Or the game. Its about people. US. Id rather lose with an honest moral democrat who stands for what he and we as a party believe in than win with one who either pretends to or truely does believe in right wing ideologies.

        •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
          Thanks for giving my post and my comments such a close and able reading, for retracting your repeated, unproven and outrageous accusations that my post was filled with lies, and for not engaging in the very thing you inititally accused me of using--spin.

          Oh, wait, you did none of these...well then, disregard my expressions of thanks.

  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
    Great article.  I always thought McAuliffe seemed to be doing a good job modernising the party, embracing the "information age", etc.

    Alan, Maverick Leftist "They laugh because they know they're untouchable, not because what I said was wrong." --Sinead O'Connor

    by SlackerInc on Sat Nov 22, 2003 at 06:55:12 PM PST

  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (3.66)
    Yes it is.  Unions have an interest.  They're interests are not the same as others (eg environmentalists ). By definition they are unique, or special, to themselves.  I guess we could call the "unique interests" or "progressive interests" or some other rebranding to help the cause, but don't think that the Unions, or any other constituency, isn't a "special interest" just because they happen to agree with you.
    .

    I'm sorry, you are flat out wrong here.  It has nothing to do with whether or not I agree with it.  And environmentalists are not "special" interests either, both of them are collective interets on different issues.  The issues environmentalists fight for are not "special" they are issues that are broad reaching and touch everyone (even those who oppose the environmentalists.)  They aren't interests in the service of one group of people, and they aren't fought in terms of a zero sum game (i.e. I want to defeat you because I win in your defeat -- the way anti-environmentalists approach this).  What environmentalists advocate is in the interest of even the anti-environmentalists, and in fact, that is how they argue it.  The same for labor: everyone in the economy benefits (even the business leaders who have to pay more, because of the increase in standard of living that allows for greater markets).  Neither of these sets of issues are issues that pit one group/constitutency's interests AHEAD of or AT THE COST of another groups.  Its a fundamentally different approach to political questions.  And that has been lost in the labelling of these collectively-oriented issues/movements as "special interests".  Decent work for a living wage is not a "special" interest.  Its an interest that every culture and every society has.  

    •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
      This is one of the best things I have ever read on this topic, a gilas girl. The Democrats, as a coalition party, need to realize that their strength comes in the common nature of each group's progressive interests: creating an improved nation for all of us. The Republican national machine, including libertarian, paleo-Right, old Right, religious Right, neo-conservative, and even proto-fascist elements, is held together by one common thread: spite for the idea that things might be better in the future than they were in the past. Every day we give in to the recategorization of progressive interests as 'special' interests and as somehow at odds with each other because of the varied but related goals they wish to achieve, we continue to make the myth of the divided liberal-left a reality.

      "Are we still, and if so on what grounds, Galilean and Cartesian?" Alain Badiou, Manifesto for Philosophy

      by Niky Ring on Sat Nov 22, 2003 at 09:15:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
      While we may all agree that it is in the best interests of everybody for workers to have higher wages, which I do, they are still clearly at odds with another power- the company owners. If you call the company owners who want to weaken unions a special interest, just because they want to take money away from the poor and buy yachts, then you must call unions who want to take money away from the yachts and to their pocketbooks special interests too. Now, I happen to agree with the unions, and thing the other side is absurd, but they ARE both special itnerests.
    •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
      You tellem girl :)
    •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
      ANWR.  If there are no progressive special interests, if such interests are "common-good" interests, why are labor and environmentalists on different sides on drilling in ANWR?  Or generally on different sides when it comes to jobs vs. protecting the environment?

      Surely there is only one common good?

      Different groups have different ideas not only about the definition of the common good, but how to arrive there.  That is why they are called 'special' interests.  

      I don't mind that they're called that.  I can see why we would prefer the rhetorical high ground, but there's a castle in the air up there.

      It's not the special interests that matter so much as the balance between them, IMO.  I'm a big fan of balances, and checks of course; our Founding Fathers had the right idea and it has served us well.

      •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
        "why are labor and environmentalists on different sides on drilling in ANWR?  Or generally on different sides when it comes to jobs vs. protecting the environment?"

        Clarification: Labor and Labor are on different sides of the ANWR issue.  The Teamsters and the Building Trades were for ANWR, not so much to protect as to create jobs.  On the other hand, most of the rest of the AFL-CIO unions were against drilling in ANWR.  

        •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
          Yes, yes.  Going further down the chain, we see interests that become even more 'special'.

          There's nothing wrong with that.  Like I said, the beauty is in the balance.  

  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (3.66)
    No sorry, I still want McAuliffe's head.

    I absolutely agree that Harold Meyerson is one of the best political minds and writers on the planet; he is one of my genuine heroes, and I respect his judgment and ideas immensely. But hey, even our heroes can make a mistake now and again. Just based on the quotes given here (and the experience of the last two years), I can tell you TM is not the man I want leading my party.

    The bottom line is WE HAD NO PARTY IN THE MIDTERMS, and we lost Congress. What else matters? Obviously TM's little targeting and financing adaptations were not enough. (In fairness, TM had to deal not only with the Thugs and their money and lies, but with 9/11 and Paul Wellstone's plane going down, which admittedly is a tall order). We needed one senator, and, what, six House members? Eight?

    It absolutely IS the Chairman's job to hold onto  the big picture, and to get in the face of the national leaders (like Gep) if they are NOT doing their jobs (as in, providing leadership), and say, you know, ladies and gentlemen, we are going to hang together or else we will hang seprately so which will it be? What message will you give me that will be a sword in our hands to fight these evil bastards? What is your vision what is your strategy to hold one house of Congress, just one, so we can beat back the fulminating greed and imperial hungers and poisonous lies of our adversaries? And if we are too fragmented to have a unified strategy then alright, let's pick one or two of the best shots we have in the Senate and build a message for that and so what is that message what is your plan? Because if we lose Congress when they've already got the courts and the oval office then my God do you have any idea what that means? Do you understand this administration is a radical ideological machine that will not listen to you or me and they will not include you in their conference committees and I know it is hard to imagine but I promise you a day will actually come when they will openly say they will not even take your questions or talk to you anymore and do you know why? Because they do not care what we say. They will stop at nothing to pursue their radical right wing agenda, and in the process they will plow under our democracy and our national resources and our ideals, and sow so much salt in the barren wastes that are left that not only will we be behind the biggest 8-ball in electoral history in 2004, but it may not even matter if we win 2004. The harm they will have visited upon the country will be so immense and so deep and so long-lived, that our grandchildren will still be living with it and paying for it no matter if God Almighty is our elected presidential candidate. So tell me your plan."

    But no. Instead, we get:

    McAuliffe argues persuasively that the DNC chairman has no right to formulate a position for the party. Yet Democrats even have trouble coordinating the messages they agree on. The culprit here, says McAuliffe, is a system in which elected officials view themselves as individual entrepreneurs, particularly because they have varied constituencies and funding bases. "You're not going to tell House members and senators what the message is," sighs McAuliffe. "It's just not gonna happen."

    Well I say, that is not good enough for me. I say, if that's your attitude, then go back to whatever you were doing because I DON'T WANT YOU RUNNING MY PARTY BECAUSE THAT IS A LOSING ATTITUDE.

    What was the lesson from the midterms? Was it not that where Dems ran an in-your-face campaign against the repubs, they did well, and where they tried to be rethuglican lite they went down?

    No, I'll take TM's head. Just leave there on the fencepost, to remind us all what happens when we fight fire with lots of dry straw.

    and p.s. -- who was responsible for that Dem party findraising letter in the last few years with a cardboard reproduction of a dreary painting of the Capitol in it, as a "gift" for my contribution? How much money was paid for that large size color reproduction of something that couldn't hit the trash fast enough? Whoever's misbegotten brainchild that was, their head can go right next to TM's (unless, of course it was HIS idea, which would of course save time).

  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
    As someone who is vehemently pro-union and pro-labor, I still understand the wariness of many to the regrowth of a central organized labor presence in the Democratic Party. During the early 1970s, the ugliest part of the Democratic Party wasn't the left-wing coalition behind McGovern, but the right-wing Daley-Meaney-Humphrey organized labor machine that, having lost the nomination, proceeded to help Nixon win the election.

    We should never forget this, but we should realize WHY McGovern's loss can be partially blamed on the AFL-CIO: because organized labor's work in elections, especially on the street, has always been effective in the extreme. All it took was Meany withdrawing support for McGovern (as well as the Eagleton debacle) and any chance the candidate might have had to prove himself worthy and close the gap against Nixon disappeared right after the convention.

    I don't think that the unions of today are anything like the unions of the 1970s in ideology - Dean, for one, wouldn't have picked up as many coveted labor endorsements as he already has if that were true. Labor wants its house back, and as socially right-wing as the memberships of some unions are, nobody believes anymore that the Republicans have any grand goals for workers other than the complete dismantling the total of the last seventy years of work in their favor.

    If you're right, Kos, and the newly invigorated DNC is run by the heirs to the great labor activists of yesteryear, we may all be surprised by the sudden surge of public visibility and support for that candidate's "one message" - the one that McAuliffe is waiting for.

    "Are we still, and if so on what grounds, Galilean and Cartesian?" Alain Badiou, Manifesto for Philosophy

    by Niky Ring on Sat Nov 22, 2003 at 09:06:35 PM PST

    •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
      I disagree that McAullife has any power over the party message- candidates do. The Democratic party had no message in 2002, but they also had no exciting candidate who was willing to fight for anything. The R's did well in '94 because Ginigrich was out there- not the head of the RNC. If the Dems will get a good message in '04, it won't be because or despite McAullife, it'll be because of the nominee.
      •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
        I wasn't implying that McAuliffe holds control over the message. As he said and Meyerson recorded, the "one message" he wants will come from the Democratic candidate, and he's rather eager to get there so he can start doing his work.

        Much to the contrary, the APPARATUS for election is what falls under the control of McAuliffe and whoever is benefiting from the DNC's rebirth in preparation for 2004. And giving more power to labor might be the shot in the arm that apparatus needs.

        "Are we still, and if so on what grounds, Galilean and Cartesian?" Alain Badiou, Manifesto for Philosophy

        by Niky Ring on Sun Nov 23, 2003 at 02:56:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
      We should never forget this, but we should realize WHY McGovern's loss can be partially blamed on the AFL-CIO: because organized labor's work in elections, especially on the street, has always been effective in the extreme. All it took was Meany withdrawing support for McGovern (as well as the Eagleton debacle) and any chance the candidate might have had to prove himself worthy and close the gap against Nixon disappeared right after the convention.

      That's a failure of McGovern, not the AFL-CIO.

      McGovern turned away the Democratic party base, completely crippling the party, and we've been fighting now for 30 years to get that back.

      Democrats have got to stop blaming people for not voting for them.  We need to instead ask that voter what is it that is important to them, try to understand their issues, and then work to address the issues in a more broadly appealing fashion.  We also need to run stronger candidates.

      Trust the voters.

      •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
        That's a failure of McGovern, not the AFL-CIO.

        Whatever blame the McGovernites must accept, and it is a lot, I will not accept for a second that the AFL-CIO was responsible or correct in helping hand Nixon the election of 1972.

        McGovern turned away the Democratic party base, completely crippling the party, and we've been fighting now for 30 years to get that back.

        That is a bit of hyperbole. I also find it odd when people assume that McGovern was viewed as a nuthatch loony all through the primary season. Granted, he was always a dark horse and associated with the left of the party, but the circumstances of the Democratic primaries and convention for that election have been almost blanked out in the memories of Democrats. Humphrey, Meany, and others demanded control over the party, and found McGovern threatening to that in the extreme. The defection of the machines, including Chicago's, cannot be justified - most of all because they were defecting to Richard Milhous Nixon. They contributed greatly to the perception of McGovern as unelectable - they never, in fact, gave him a chance. They didn't even TRY to win back the constituencies that Nixon was courting, including their own labor base. They just rolled over, and even Chicago felt the hurt in 1972 as Daley's cronies got booted out for Republicans and the mayor himself barely survived. Labor's influence continued to decline. Meany and Daley didn't save a thing by blowing raspberries at McGovern - not even their own empires.

        Don't get me wrong, because I don't think McGovern should have been nominated in 1972; for all purposes, almost anyone running for the nod would have been better to take on Nixon (with the exceptions of Wallace and Chisholm). That doesn't justify the bratty behavior of Daley, Meany, and the unions after 'the wrong guy' won at the convention despite their best and ugliest efforts.

        If we're going to learn about the ability of faction and divisiveness to destroy the electoral chances of the Democratic Party, in 1972, 2000, or 2004, we have to look at both the left and the right of the matter. I don't care who ends up as the candidate; if we can't get behind him after the convention ends, then we're. all. screwed. Democrats on the right are going to have to suck it in if a "left-wing" candidate gets nominated, and people like me are going to have to vote for a right-wing Democrat with gloves on if that's how the convention turns out - because if we don't, then we've just plain given up.

        Democrats have got to stop blaming people for not voting for them.

        Agreed, with the caveat that we need to demand party loyalty, or at least no insulting and vocal endorsements of the opposition, from officials who carry the Democratic label. The Dems fighting Nixon needed a jerk like Daley the same way we need Zell Miller today. That is, we need him to shut up.

        We need to instead ask that voter what is it that is important to them, try to understand their issues, and then work to address the issues in a more broadly appealing fashion.  We also need to run stronger candidates.

        Agreed, agreed, and agreed. I wouldn't compare any of the candidates actually in the running for the nomination with McGovern; only Dennis Kucinich resembles him. I doubt Kucinich is going to come from behind and beat all comers - but if he does, then we're all going to become Team Kucinich 2004 straight up to election day. Got it?

        "Are we still, and if so on what grounds, Galilean and Cartesian?" Alain Badiou, Manifesto for Philosophy

        by Niky Ring on Sun Nov 23, 2003 at 02:52:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  South Carolina Dem Primary (none)
    Explain something to me: All this talk of millions upon millions being raised, and yet no one can cough up some dough to help the South Carolina Democratic Party run its primary?
  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
    Taking a Breather

    I seem to have provoked an argument about Unions and other "special interests" earlier in the day.

    One of the great things about the Left is that this sort of argument occurs at all.  The Right has secret leadership meetings,  the party line is decided,  and the fellow travelers obey.  For Fascists,  "the managers manage and the workers work.'  So,  let's all take a deep breath and admire and enjoy our feisty selves.

    Special Interests

    I agree that the "special interest" label is propaganda;  but,  it won't go away.  The question is,  who can make the label stick;  or, can Republicans pin the tail on the donkey?  Our job is to show that unions and the environment and other things are not special interests;  they are needed by almost everyone.

    I think our tack should be that what we advocate,  what we do,  helps the vast majority.  We need to take back the "working man" label, which has been co-opted by Republicans.  I've gone back to speaking of the "common man" or the "ordinary person;"  quaint early-mid 20th century expressions. Otherwise, I am speechless.

    In our conversations and advertising,  we need to portray the truly median (and less) households.  We have to reach the Bunkers. ["Meathead", note.]

    Please recall the very successful Harry & Louise team that ruined us 10 years ago.  This time, we have to get or buy the smart advertising people.  You would think the "Hollywood liberals" would know how to do this.

    Unions

    My Union experience started in the 1960s in a revolt against the SEIU.  The problem was the Union bosses.  It is tempting to use the Union for personal gain,  which is what people do in business.  That is,  in a capitalist society, Unions become mirror images of Corporations;  the difference is on which side of the table you are seated.  [I became acutely aware of that as a Union rep.]

    So, I am not against Unions.  I say be aware of - and avoid - Unions which are co-opted,  which become part of the Fascist system [by definition, the corporate state].

    I was a professional worker,  and represented my co-workers.  I don't think it is a good idea to see oneself as apart from the people who scrub the floors and clean the toilets.  Have some humility;  professionals are not gods.

    You should do some cooking, cleaning, scrubbing and toilet washing at home for practice.  I had relatives who survived Auschwitz, and I've been on the street.  You would be surprised how fast one can descend from heaven into hell.

    Republicans depend on caste differences.  If you start feeling you are better, or different, from those SEIU toilet washers,  you are on the road to assigning the Untouchables.

    So,  one should not support Unions solely out of sympathy or intellectual conviction.  It is important to feel and believe oneself as one of the people,  not one apart.

    Unions should be a very important part of the Democratic party in that spirit.

    Compromise?

    Maybe Terry McAuliffe did a better job than I credit him for.  Maybe he organized the party in a good way and should not be fired.

    Nonetheless,  I feel it is appropriate to ask whether he's worth the salary he's paid?

    Has he represented the party as well as we expect?

    One solution is to restructure the DNC, and offer Mr McAuliffe an "internal" position.  He might be a really good COO.  Then,  we would have to find a new front man,  the CHAIR or CEO, who would be the "external" person.

    This solution is often used in corporations,  and has the advantage of assigning people to jobs they do well.

    The DNC could also rely on a more activist and independent Board.  It would be helpful if the rank and file had more direct representation, and a way to be something other than a herd of donkeys.

    Remember, Aesop had a tale about overloaded donkeys.

  •  Re: McAuliffe Prepares DNC for 2004 (none)
    But I did notice that you completely ducked the issue of unions discussed right here on dKos that seem to have difficulites practicing democracy within their own ranks.

    Well, then you didn't notice at all, because its right there in my post, I noted that because the union movement in the US is weak, the democracy is weak inside the movement (as well as in our culture).  

  •  Trackback: Question About McAullife (none)
    Trackback from Obsidian Wings:
    Hopefully, it'll automatically publish Monday morning (yup, playing with site features). So, anyway, I was reading through this dKos post and I was struck with something: why are the Democrats keeping him around as head of the DNC? Rather than
    Read the rest...

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