WHY DOES THE DCCC HATE DEMOCRACY? ARE THEY WEAK AND AFRAID OF PEOPLE LIKE THE REPUBLICANS ARE?
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC, aka- D-Triple C or just D-Trip) has an excellent weblog called The Stakeholder where you can generally find political news from a Democratic point of view. It's always got up-to-the-minute information of all the congresspeeps and I find it a very useful source and keep it on my blogroll for easy access. Last night I found an interesting-- and somewhat disturbing-- link to a chat with DCCC Executive Director John Lapp.
TPaine asked him about the DCCC's attitude towards bloggers he blurted out something that sounds very defensive to me (after talking about what a huge fan he is of "progressive movements, bloggers and the so-called netsroots and blogosphere").
For those who don’t know, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) serves as the official national Democratic campaign committee charged with recruiting, assisting, funding, and electing Democrats to the U. S. House of Representatives. We provide services ranging from designing and helping execute field operations, to polling, creating radio and television commercials, fundraising, communications, and management consulting. The DCCC is a committee organized to empower candidates – help them run successful campaigns and help candidates fight back against unfair attacks from their opponents and the National Republican Congressional Committee. Help Democrats be the best campaigns they can be. It is NOT about recruiting national candidates with a Washington message.
The emphasis was mine, although the caps on "NOT" came from Lapp-- It is NOT about recruiting national candidates with a Washington message. Anyone who has been reading DWT is probably aware that DCCC claims of neutrality are not something I buy into-- and not something I intend to allow to go unchallenged. My beef with Emanuel's DCCC (and its counterpart for the Senate, Chuck Schumer's DSCC) was shared by many exactly one month ago when we watched, aghast, as they conspired in an aggressive, slimy and underhanded Rove-like campaign to drive grassroots hero Paul Hackett out of the lively primary race to choose who Ohio Democrats wanted to challenge Republicrook Mike DeWine. Ohio Democrats never got a say in the matter because Inside-the-Beltway power-mongers don't believe in primaries and don't believe in democracy. They called Hackett's major funders and asked that they stop harming Democratic chances by contributing money to Hackett's campaign. The DCCC, for all its claims of neutrality in primaries, is constantly and systematically using this tactic to fight against progressives and grassroots candidates everywhere.
Yesterday I started writing about how Emanuel and the DCCC is attempting to wreck Jan Schneider's campaign to replace Katherine Harris in FL-13. Count on follow-ups as more and more evidence mounts about how the DCCC breaks its own rules and promises and acts more like Republicans than a political party of the people and for the people. But today I want to talk about the crucial congressional race in Pomboville (CA-11).
In the aforementioned chat with Lapp, Bob B asked what the realistic chances are to defeat two of the most corrupt and extremist of all the Republicans in Congress, indicted ex-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and the "Let's sell off the national parks" guy, Richard Pombo. Lapp's enthusiastic, party-line endorsement of Nick Lampson was picture-perfect. Exactly what the DCCC should be doing: targeting an especially egregious and especially vulnerable Republican and supporting the efforts of the undisputed Democratic challenger (former Congressman Nick Lampson). The answer to part 2 of the Bob B's inquiry is what calls into question the relationship between progressive citizens who vote for Democrats and the Inside-the-Beltway power elites like the DCCC and the DSCC.
Lapp started out as strong as someone not connected to the district could be expected to-- with a spot-on ritual denunciation of Pombo's ethical lapses. He never touched on the local issues that could win the race for a Central Valley Democrat but that really is up to a local candidate and local Democrats. And that's why a primary is so important in a district like CA-11. But instead of mentioning that there are several good, viable Democrats running in the primary, Lapp immediately did exactly what the DCCC claims it doesn't do: he endorsed an insider-recruited so-called "moderate," Steve Filson, and ignored completely the progressive grassroots candidate, Jerry McNerney.
This is how the DCCC works. Always. Everywhere. Does it matter? Don't we just want Democrats in office? Um... well... most of my friends and colleagues think so. When I think about it though, Mark Taibbi's powerful ROLLING STONE essay about the endemic corruption of the Republicans in Congress pops into my mind. After a thorough indictment of the outrageous corruption of the GOP leaders as well as the pathetic congressional rank-and-file, Taibbi closes with a chilling warning: "The Democrats, whose innocence in the crimes of the last five years to date corresponds exactly to their lack of opportunities for corruption, may now get a chance at the helm. But it won't take much exposure to cheap stunts like a beaming Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi signing a 'Declaration of Honest Leadership' before people begin to remember how much the other guys can suck, too. Bush haters are celebrating this week as old villains descend to the death chamber, but they should be careful what they wish for. Trusting Washington to fix itself is a whole new kind of torture." [Emphasis is mine.]
Beyond the argument that even the worst Democrat is better than the best Republican-- an argument which is not meritless on its face-- it's important to distinguish between progressives, who are motivated by policies and careerist Democratic officeholders who are predominently motivated by... career advancement. Look no further than two news stories of the last week. First was the outrage of 71 Democrats-- including Rahm Emanuel, of course-- joining with the Republicans to ram through a clearly anti-consumer/pro-corporate/lobbyist-fueled bill that wrecks progressive states' attempts to protect consumers with truthful food labeling laws. Even more outrageous, is Emanuel's decision to not go after the Republicans' extremist anti-choice agenda. The team at Fire Dog Lake are hot on his trail and they're not the types who get quieted down by some bullshit calls for "party unity." Rahm Emanuel and other corporate shills in the Democrat Party may not even be people progressives should be seeking unity with.
When they support a candidate chosen fair and square and it's a progressive or one of their own putative "moderates", I'm with 'em. When they cheat to insert their own shill candidate in the place of a grassroots progressive, they're on their own. When Sherrod and Hackett were battling it out, I said I would max-out for the winner of the primary. But there was no primary-- just a diktat from DC. So screw that; they can pay for their own race-- and good luck! You know, when a moderate Democrat runs in a moderate district, I'm happy to support him or her, even if we disagree on an issue as crucial as Iraq (see my endorsement of Russ Warner, the Democrat who will rid an L.A. County suburban district of the out-of-step incumbent nutcase, David Dreier). But when the DCCC cheats to worm their corporate-shill candidate into a district by sabotaging a progressive... well, that's where I draw the line. The last thing I want to see is Congress taken over by a Democratic leadership either too Stalinist or too weak or too corrupt to resist the inevitable temptations of power. Nancy Pelosi should fire Rahm Emanuel and prove she's really a leader-- and one whose vision is strategic, not just tactical.