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I'd like to correct what I see as a common assumption we make around here. Over and over we call the Dems "spineless." Not all Dems. Not Feingold. Not Boxer. Not Conyers. We know who OUR Dems are. It's a list that grows daily.

What's the difference between these Dems and the spineless Dems? OUR Dems are accountable to US. They know that if they vote based on what we, their constituents, want and based on what they know in their hearts is right, we will support them. We might donate $5.01, $10.01, and $20.01 at a time, but we get the word out about them, canvas for them, and turn out the vote for them. Money is important but it's votes that win the election.

There are some spineless Dems out there, don't get me wrong. There are Dems out there who don't know what their opinion is until a focus group tells them. But then there are Dems out there who DO have a spine - they are just bought and paid for by Big Business, and they are using their spines without our interests in mind.

It's our job to tell the difference between the two.

I've been reading a book on food safety lately. Food safety - no brainer, right? We all eat. Republicans eat, Democrats eat. Who the hell doesn't want safe food? Industry, of course.

God forbid a juice company can't use apples that fell off the tree into contaminated manure. God forbid factory farms need to change the cows' diets a week or so before slaughter to cut down on antibiotic resistant bacteria in their stomachs. God forbid we even put warning labels on packages of meat instructing consumers how to handle it and cook it to kill all of the pathogens. That's anti-business!

It becomes worse when you get to trade regulations. If we inspect food coming in from countries that have contaminated water supplies and we don't let contaminated food in - then maybe other countries will retaliate by not letting our products in either. What can I say? Anti-business.

Here's where you make the distinction in Democrats:

  • Supports legislation for safe food = GOOD DEMOCRAT
  • Wants to support food safety but afraid voters will listen to Republican talking points re: anti-business = SPINELESS DEMOCRAT
  • Gleefully accepts campaign contributions from Tyson, Cargill, etc, and votes against food safety = BOUGHT AND PAID FOR

Spineless? Shit, no. They have spines. They are using their spines to stand up for something that will be unpopular with any voter you ask just to support their corporate donors.

Food safety is just my issue du jour because I'm reading a book on it. There are others. The environment, typically. Any sort of regulation. Are Dems afraid of losing votes for appearing pro-big government and anti-business, or were they bought off decades ago and we just vote for them because they are less bad than the Republicans? And how do you tell the difference? And better yet - how do you solve the problem?

Telling the Difference
This is our job. This is why I started blogging. I got into it when bloggers caught Jeff Gannon. WE are the checks and balances, because there certainly aren't any left in Washington.

Next time you see a Dem act spineless, go to OpenSecrets.org and follow the money.

I just went there now. I searched by Interest Group on Pharmaceuticals, and then clicked Top Recipients. Voila!


Rank

CandidateOfficeAmount
1Santorum, Rick (R-PA)Senate$298,327
2Ferguson, Mike (R-NJ)House$210,373
3Kennedy, Edward M (D-MA)Senate$195,050
4Hatch, Orrin G (R-UT)Senate$169,200
5Deal, Nathan (R-GA)House$156,085
6Johnson, Nancy L (R-CT)House$131,260
7Menendez, Robert (D-NJ) Senate$121,343
8DeWine, Mike (R-OH)Senate$114,823
9Nelson, Ben (D-NE)Senate$111,450
10Kyl, Jon (R-AZ)Senate$108,700
11Lieberman, Joe (Connecticut for Lieberman-CT)Senate$104,600
12Conrad, Kent (D-ND)Senate$104,450
13Hastert, Dennis (R-IL)House$102,000
14Barton, Joe (R-TX)House$99,850
15Allen, George (R-VA)Senate$99,760
16Kennedy, Mark (R-MN)Senate$92,855
17Bonilla, Henry (R-TX)House$88,214
18Carper, Tom (D-DE)Senate$79,620
19DeLay, Tom(R-TX)House$78,450
20Baucus, Max (D-MT)Senate$74,149

You want your Top 20 reasons why prescription drugs cost so much? Why medical marijuana isn't legal all over America? Why our meat comes with antibiotics in it? There you go.

And what are we doing about it?

Fixing the Problem
DeLay's out, Lieberman's getting his ass kicked by Lamont, Santorum is pretty much done, DeWine, Allen, and Kyl might even be going away, and Hastart got caught with his hand in the till. But other than Lieberman those are all Republicans that we're definitely, probably, or hopefully getting rid of.

So we know that we support our progressive blogosphere-endorsed candidates against Republicans. And we're going to be rewarded for it in November, provided people show up to vote and the votes are actually counted... two things the Republicans always try to prevent from happening.

But then there are the embarrassing shades of blue on the chart above - and what's the viable alternative? A Republican could win instead of a Democrat, but that'd be worse. A Green? In my dream world, perhaps. Not in reality.

Here's my thought: We need to continue to make ourselves a force behind getting progressives elected, and we need to call out the Dems not just when they are spineless, but when they are BOUGHT AND PAID FOR. If the money is more valuable than popular support, they'll continue to take the money. If our support (the grassroots and the netroots) is more important, then they will vote in our best interests instead.

Let's turn Lieberman into a verb, guys. "Oh, so-and-so Congressman? Yeah, he got Lieberman'd in '08. He was bought and paid for by Big Pharma and the netroots took him OUT!" We're already going in that direction - let's keep it up.

UPDATE: The exposure we give our candidates here is WORTH money. A lot of money. Particularly because we speak from the heart and we aren't paid to do it. Also, we are free research for any candidate who wants it. All they need to do to find out where the liberal base of the party stands on an issue is come here and read the diaries and comments. Do not forget this.

I'm not advocating we take out our own candidates if we don't like them and let the Republicans win. I'm advocating that we make our support on dKos - financially as well as in terms of free press - so worthwhile that more candidates wake up and get on board with us. A bad Democrat is always going to be better than a Republican because we need the to be majority party. Imagine a Democrat with subpoena power!

Also: Note from the comments... Ted Kennedy gets $$ from Big Pharma bc he's the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Health. There are some great comments that have been made about him so if you want more details, do a Ctrl+F and search on the word Kennedy.

Originally posted to OrangeClouds115 on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 07:19 AM PDT.

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