Earlier today, I got an email from Chris Bowers celebrating the primary defeat of two blue dog democrats by progressive primary challengers, and urging that we work to defeat more blue dogs, replacing them with progressives. The sentiments were repeated in this front page diary, also by Chris Bowers
Now, just to be clear, I am solidly in the progressive camp. I would like to see a single payer health system, thought the biggest problem with the stimulus was that it wasn't big enough, and I am deeply concerned about global warming and other environmental issues. I can't think of a single issue where the progressive policy options wouldn't lead to the best options.
Even so, the Bower's post worries me. Follow me over to see why
My concern is that taken too far, this line of thinking would turn us into the mirror image of the Republican party.
The biggest problem the Republicans face is that they have banished all dissenting voices within their ranks. Because of that, there is no one to bring them back when they go over the rails.
I wasn't always like that. At one time, there was a liberal wing of the Republican party known as the "Rockefeller" Republicans. Starting with the southern strategy of Nixon, and intensifying as Reagan and Bush brought in the evangelicals, and they ultimately took over the party, the Rockefeller Republicans were systematically banished. Now, any Republican showing a whiff of compromise is challenged by a tea bagger, and typically loses.
The result is what Andrew Sullivan has referred to as Epistemic Closure, where people only have contact with people that they already agree with.
The danger of this path is we have no one to challenge our assumptions as Peter Wehner discussed in Commentary.
We channel facts in a way that reinforces views that are based on something different than – something deeper than – mere empirical evidence. None of us, then, are completely open-minded; and we’re all understandably reluctant to alter deeply-held views. The question, really, is given all this, how open are we to persuasion, to new evidence, and to holding up our views to refinement and revision? How do we react when our arguments seem to be falling apart? And what steps can we take to ensure that we don’t insulate ourselves to the point that we are indifferent to facts that challenge our worldview?So yes, let's get more progressives into congress. Let's work for them, donate to them, and advocate for them. But please, let's remain a large enough tent that people with different views remain welcomed and respected.