As we've seen these past couple of weeks, we've got a problem in our caucus -- while we have been busy stocking up on more Democrats, fact is the good ones are being swamped by the bad ones.
Now we're at a disadvantage vis a vis AT&T. We don't have the millions to pump into campaign coffers, nor the lobbyists to twist arms in Capitol Hill. And those Democrats feel safe. Many are in solid (D) districts and have no fear of the opposition. Or they are in tough districts, and think that they are solid given the Republican alternatives. And that was certainly the case when we were in the minority or even with our tighter current majorities.
But things have changed. Democrats currently have a 37-seat majority in the House -- larger than any enjoyed by the GOP during its reign of corruption starting in 1994. That means that if we win 32 seats, well within the realm of possibility, we'll have a 101-seat majority in the House. Even if we gain a more realistic 20 or so seats, we're still talking a 77-seat majority.
And that'll give us breathing room to begin holding our party accountable.
Remember, we don't have the millions to compete with AT&T's lobbyists, and our best-crafted arguments can be easily ignored. All the while, Steny Hoyer buys loyalty by tirelessly campaigning and raising money for his fellow Democrats. So how can we overcome those obstacles?
So 2010 is going to be the year we pivot from taking control of our government, to holding out accountable. Like Al Wynn this year, the corrupt, the tone-deaf, and the reactionary within Democratic ranks will face the possibility of primary battles. The infrastructure we're building will be available for those courageous enough to take on the entrenched elite. But when we have candidates that inspire, and can develop the alternate funding sources to finance them, the combined might of the Pelosis and Hoyers won't be enough to effect change. Just ask Donna Edwards.
So you're angry about the Democratic capitulation? Don't take it out on the party. More House Democrats voted against this abomination than voted for it. The party isn't the problem, it's too many of its elected members that have forgotten who they serve and why. Hint: It's not AT&T lobbyists, it's not Steny Hoyer, and it's not access to their checks.
You want to do something? If your local congresscritter is one of the bad apples, start organizing locally. Plug into existing networks or start your own. Begin looking for primary challengers. Do the groundwork. Don't expect help from the local party establishment, they'll close ranks. So tap into alternate infrastructures. Find allies in the progressive movement. If your local shitty Democrat is anti-union, approach the unions. They'd love to send this kind of message. If the Democrat is anti-choice, work with the women's groups. If the Democrat is anti-environment ... you get the idea. If you have access to professional networks and money, start organizing those.
Of course, this takes more than just bitching about your frustrations on a blog, damning a whole party for the actions of a minority more scared of Mr. 28% than of protecting the Constitution they swore to protect. This takes hard work. But now is the time to start.
And while people like me will focus on the task at hand this year, it won't be long after Election Day that we'll start looking at the 2010 map, looking for those great primary challengers.
Who to primary? Well, I'd argue that we can narrow the target list by looking at those Democrats who sold out the Constitution last week. I've bolded members of the Blue Dogs for added emphasis.
Ackerman, Gary (NY-05)
Donnelly, Joe (IN-02)
Mitchell, Harry (AZ-05)
Not all of these people will get or even deserve primaries, but this vote certainly puts a bulls eye on their district. If we can field enough serious challengers, and if we repeat the Donna Edwards and Joe Lieberman stories a few more times, well then, our elected officials might have no choice but to be more responsive. Because if we show them that their AT&T lobbyist buddies can't save their jobs, they'll pay more attention to those who can.
p.s. Four Blue Dogs voted to protect the Constitution -- Baron Hill (IN-09), Mike Michaud (ME-02), Loretta Sanchez (CA-47), and Mike Thompson (CA-01). They apparently realized that being supposed "moderates" didn't necessitate selling out to Constitution for George Bush's imperial presidency.