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This last election saw a stellar set of True Progressive Democrats elected to the US Senate. Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warren will join Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, Tom Harkin and others as key fights over the social safety net and the economy continue into 2013 and beyond.

With this distinctly progressive push voters provided Democrats the political capital to counteract Radical Republican Obstuctionists and Moderate ConservaDem Blue Dog senators who prevented President Obama from acting fully on his mandate in 2008.

The biggest question for Obama's second term is whether he'll work to protect long-standing Democratic programs and principles and enact the more progressive policies that voters urged with his second resounding electoral mandate:

"If the president stands firm ... he will have the overwhelming majority of Americans behind him," Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders says.

"And sooner or later the Republicans will catch on that they are in danger of becoming a marginal, fringe party unless they get along with the program and do what the American people want."

If the president stands firm. And if the United States Senate maintains steady movement towards more progressive policies that are possible with these new and unabashedly progressive senators.

Two big ifs.

Some say it's politically possible, even predetermined by the current politics, but I say it will be much more difficult with new DSCC Campaign Chair Michael Bennet of Colorado picking candidates and strategies for the next set of Democrats elected to the senate.

Here's why:

Bennet, along with Mark Udall, immediately went the ConservaDem route in 2009 after Barack Obama's election.

Colorado’s two freshman senators, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, are part of a self-described centrist group of 15 Democrats meeting regularly “seeking to restrain the influence of party liberals in the White House and on Capitol Hill,” according to an account in Roll Call.

The group has a “shared commitment to pursue moderate, mainstream and fiscally sustainable policies across a range of issues, such as health care reform, the housing crisis, educational reform, and energy policy,” according to a statement issued Wednesday by the group.

Boy, they restrained liberals alright, and gave Republicans even more reason to believe their plan to foil Obama's presidency would work. Here's what Rachel said about the ConservaDems:
Conservadems like Jon Tester, and Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman are siding with the Republican Senators who are siding with no voters, not even their own, and who are siding against firefighters and against cops and against teachers."
It happened time and again during Obama's first term.

Here's what just happened on the Fiscal Cliff vote courtesy of Colorado's Michael Bennet, the new chair of the DSCC:

"This proposal does not meet that standard and does not put in place a real process to reduce the debt down the road. While I do support many of the items in this proposal, I believe they should have come in the context of a comprehensive deficit reduction package.

Without a serious mechanism to reduce the debt, I cannot support this bill."

No, his vote didn't affect the outcome. It was a giveaway, and with it he clearly signaled his desire to cut more, to gut entitlements, to implement austerity as seen by his Republican and Fiscal Hawk partners in the senate.

But that's not what voters said with their clear mandate and progressive electoral choices this November.

Will Bennet work to those choices as Chair of the DSCC? It doesn't look like it:

Staffers say the reason it took Bennet so long to decide whether to take the job — a record three weeks that drove Washington media crazy — was because he was negotiating a leadership platform that would promote moderate Democrats.
Will Bennet fight harder to elect more Democrats to the senate or to be a bipartisan hero to his "friends" on the other side of the aisle - Republicans completely hostile to Obama's agenda:
Bennet says he took almost a month to decide whether to take on the role because in part he wanted confirmation, from Republicans in particular, that the job would not imperil relationships he has painstakingly built in four years on Capitol Hill.

"I wanted to make sure it would not interfere with my ability to work in a bipartisan way in the Senate," Bennet said in a short, guarded phone interview. "I talked to people on both sides of the aisle about that and became convinced."

There you have it: Bennet was so concerned about taking the job he wanted Repubilican approval for what should be a partisan bulldog approach. Bennet's unnatural desire for bipartisanship seems to have overshadowed his duties as a senator, to Democrats, and to his constituents.

I don't think he can do both jobs these next two years. And I'm afraid the one he'll do is the one Republicans approve of - electing moderates to the senate and working for an austerity economy with cuts to our social safety net.

That's a lose-lose for Democrats.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I was surprised (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That this position went to Bennet, especially after Patty Murray did such a good job.  I know she didn't want to do it again, but you would think this position would go to someone more liberal than Bennet.  

    That being said, Blue Dogs are probably not going to work in 2014.  We need candidates who are liberal in their thinking and in the votes they'll make.  Social issues will be at the forefront, in the 2013 and 2014 elections and we need candidates that will echo these issues the same way a majority of the voters do.  

    Never be afraid to voice your opinion and fight for it . Corporations aren't people, they're Republicans (Rev Al Sharpton 10/7/2011)

    by Rosalie907 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:36:44 PM PST

    •  How did he get the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      job anyway?

      The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

      by dfarrah on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:02:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's what I'd like to know (0+ / 0-)

        As a 1st term Senator and a Blue Dog.  There were a lot of other Senators that could have been given this position, Kirstin Gillibrand, Sherrod Brown, and others like them come to mind but Bennet wouldn't and shouldn't have been on Reid's list.

        Never be afraid to voice your opinion and fight for it . Corporations aren't people, they're Republicans (Rev Al Sharpton 10/7/2011)

        by Rosalie907 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:45:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm amazed at the guy. (0+ / 0-)

          He's very much like Hickenlooper--somehow beyond blessed [for lack of a better word] to have everything handed to him.  The waters just part ways for these two.

          Not that there is anything wrong with that--I just marvel at these types of people.

          The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

          by dfarrah on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 06:43:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I like Bennet (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrAnon, v2aggie2, FG

    He may be more conservative than the best Dems but he's always there when we need him, and he's a far cry from the likes of Ben Nelson or Lieberman. I'd far rather have him representing the legislative right of our party than any of those others; critical maybe but at least believing in something (Unlike Lieberman) and backing us when it counts, like on healthcare.

    And frankly, in 2014, we're going to need to promote moderate Democrats. Remember the field in 2014; this isn't just any midterm: we're defending seats in Alaska, Louisiana, etc and our only remotely possible pick-up is in Kentucky. Like it or not (And I don't), moderate Dems are going to be where we hold or lose the Senate in this particular cycle.

    •  To lend some evidence here (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      deepeco, v2aggie2

      Bennet has supported very progressive positions on immigration and on clean energy, and said it was worth losing the election to pass Healthcare Reform. (Although of course, he won)

      I'll take that over any of the real conservadems any day!

  •  Can we please avoid terms like (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheKF1, Gooserock

    "True Progressive" (especially capitalized like that)? Also, I don't like dividing the party black and white into "Progressives" and "Conservadems". Tester, for example, is seen as progressive to many folks who care a lot about civil liberties and social issues, while conservative to people who care greatly about immigration and union issues.

    Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

    by MrAnon on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:03:32 PM PST

    •  All But One of Those Are Culture Which Has Zip (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to do with the nation's power structure.

      Trade, anti trust, finance, compressive taxation are most of what determine whether the people can know or influence anything the country where they reside.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:30:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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