Memo to media: THIS WASN'T A TRIUMPH OF CENTRISM

Tom Ferrick and Tom Fitzgerald are two of my favorite writers in Philly. It is not a stretch to say that with either of them not covering PA and Philly politics, my life would be a lot harder. But in their day-after post mortems, they are throwing around a line that I cannot take: That this election, this complete repudiation of the GOP, was really a huge victory for centrists.

An example is this article from Fitzgerald:

Democrats took control of the House and apparently the Senate, exit polls suggest, largely by running moderate candidates - and speaking to the concerns of disaffected independents and swing voters.

Pfffffffffffffft.

First of all, let's go back to 1994 for a second. When the GOP creamed Bill Clinton, and took over the majority in both houses, we all heard about a Republican Revolution. Things were gonna ch-ch-change in DC, because the Country had become more and more conservative. I didn't hear anyone say that it was a big victory for Newt Gingrich's centrism. Did you?

Let's consider this nationally below. Yes, some moderates won. And, so did some out and out progressives. I mean, on the heels of Sherrod Brown, the head of the progressive caucus in the House, cruising to a Senate win in Ohio, and Nancy Pelosi, another progressive caucus member, becoming Speaker of the House, the idea seems a little silly. Then, look a little deeper. In Kentucky, the star recruit by the national Democrats was ex-Congressman Ken Lucas, a very conservative Democrat. He didn't come particularly close to winning. Still in Kentucky, John Yarmuth, a liberal guy who started an alternative newspaper, and was an out and out progressive, won. In Illinois, Tammy Duckworth, another conservative-ish Democrat that was a star of the national party, lost, despite having millions of dollars thrown her way. Or in Rhode Island, one of the only GOP moderates, Lincoln Chafee, lost his Senate seat decisively.

Locally, how about Joe Sestak? What did Joe Sestak campaign on? Some new ideas for Iraq, and national healthcare. Not exactly conservative. Patrick Murphy sat down in front of me and said that he thought anyone who wanted to marry someone should be able to, regardless of sex, and that he thought the Defense of Marriage Act was not only bad policy, but Unconstitutional.

Now, of course, we did elect some moderates, because we are a big tent party, as opposed to the GOP ideologues. Chief among them was Bob Casey. But here is the key difference between Casey and our most famous triangulator- Bill Clinton. Clinton had the theory that he would win by blurring differences between the two parties, and start advocating outright for conservative sounding principles. Casey, obviously pro-life, instead focused on where he differed from the GOP, not on the social issues where he had some agreement. And, in his first interviews afterwards, what did he talk about? Raising the minimum wage, expanding healthcare, and changing the direction in Iraq. He did not start advocating to pass abortion restrictions.

The local media is interviewing people like Al From. From is the head of the DLC, a centrist, self-hating group of "Democrats" that advocates Dems selling out to big business. If anything, the close ties between the Democrats and big business that led us to NAFTA and CAFTA were repudiated by Democrats from Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey and a host of other Dems everywhere. Its not like From has no interest in this. He hates grassroots activists, he hates progressives, he hates bloggers and he hates the netroots. He is a sorry man, whose influence has sunk to about nothing. He has no credibility. Please do not take him as some uninterested party.

Was this a win for out and out liberals? Not exclusively, no. But, this was a victory for progressive activists, the grassroots and the netroots. Nationally, the new Democratic Senators from Montana and Virginia (remember, the ones that swung the Senate) were candidates that largely would not have existed without bloggers and activists. Locally, two suburban Congressional candidates had big grassroot and netroots followings: Sestak and Pat Murphy. Lois Murphy, who I will write more about tomorrow? Not so much. Guess which two won...

The country has swung to the left. Does that mean national healthcare comes tomorrow? No. But it is disingenuous to say that on the heels of this historic win, that somehow this shows the Country wants centrism. They want DEMOCRATS, and all that entails- fair trade, a sane foreign policy, expanded healthcare and a greater minimum wage.

Good analysis

Great post, Dan. I'm looking forward to what you have to say about Lois Murphy. I'm curious about why she didn't have the netroots support that I think she had in 2004.

the "big tent?"

It seems the notion that this was a defeat of the "moonbats" has become the latest Republican talking point - and they're using the victory of Lieberman as the main cog in their argument - that the "netroots" gang has been marginalized.

Well, while I think that's bullshit, andI certainly agree that this election was a repudiation of the Republicans, I also think that "liberals" (I guess "progressives" is now out of vogue here at YPP?), need to really be careful how to respond to this election.

For what it's worth, to me, it doesn't mean supporting efforts that have no chance of succeeding and will likely bring negative blowback - such as trying to impeach Bush - but it does mean pressing the advantage, and holding the Casey's and the Pelosi's accountable.

The Dems need to be out front on reigning in lobbyists, on campaign finance initiatives, on legislating to allow for prescription drug negotiations, on raising the minimum wage, on nationalized healthcare, on stem cell research, etc., etc. These are battles that can be won, regardless of whether this election was a move to the left of a move to the center. Of course, issues that will divide the different factions of the Democratic party, such abortion and Iraq and immigration, are of vital importance; but, differences on those issues don't have to preclude progress on other issues where the moderates and the "progressives" are in agreement.

BTW, I can't help but point out a bit of hypocrisy, Dan. When I posted on the war in Lebanon, wondering about the silence on that issue, you said that it wasn't something you'd put on the top because it wasn't local in focus. Hey, it's your website. But I thought a "what's up with that?" might be in order here.

Clearly, Dan,

There's no way I can hope to withstand the withering onslaught of your rapier-like sarcasm (sorry for the mixed metaphor). I beg your forgiveness for having an opinion different than yours - that the lack of response on the part of local "progressives" to the bombing of hundreds of thousands of civilians IS a local issue. Or that the issue you posted on was largely national in focus (although I agreed that it has important implications for "progressives" locally). Let me lick my wounds now, and I'll know better than to challenge your perspective again. I only hope you will excuse my insolence.

Too many labels, too little t

Too many labels, too little time. Ultimately, it was a victory for democrats, centrists and liberals alike. But, we have two years to keep those voters who voted for our people when they normally would not in our camp. So, now we have to accomplish something more than these great victories, no matter how they are defined.

Pat Murphy. Joe Sestak.

Pat Murphy.

Joe Sestak.

Bob Casey.

Lois Murphy.

A little more local then the war in Lebanon.

Gee D.E., sorry. I guess

Gee D.E., sorry.

I guess when you use a point that I think is severely lacking to call me a hypocrite I should just say, thanks!

And

My memory is like swiss cheese right now. Was there a netroots supported candidate in Lois Murphy's primary? I seem to remember her trouncing some guy in the primary but I don't remember anything on the blogs that supported him.

tit for tat?

Since you responded, I would say that the prevasive lack of response on the part of local "progressives" to the war in Lebanon is a local issue. And it seemed to me that the main focus of this post was related to the national scope of the elections.

But, it doesn't seem to be worth bickering about. If you don't see any hypocrisy there, fine. Like I said, it's your website. And I'd really rather focus on the implications of your post than that side issue. I just would hope that you'd take my reaction under consideration should I want to post on a not-strictly local topic in the future.

Stop

Cannot we just stop this bickering?

The idea that a site called Y

The idea that a site called Young Philly Politics might be geared more to say, I dunno, stories about Philly and Philly region politics is just. so. crazy!

Start your own site

I care a lot about what is happening in the Middle East. I care a lot how Congress messed with student loans. I care a lot about Bush's massive student database. All of these issues aren't covered on YPP.

So, I started my own blog. It focuses on national and international issues. I'm still heavily invested in the Philadelphia progressive movement, but I also wanted to create a space where young progressives could discuss a wider range of issues.

Young Philly Politics is still the best place, by far, to talk about Philly politics.

So, check out my site and keep reading YPP. If you don't like it, start your own!

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http://benwaxman.com

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