Positive Reinforcement

Long term readers would know that I’m not typically the type of guy to rage against the machine, or more specifically, rage against my machine.  I’m a party shill and I tend to come by it pretty honestly.  But, a year since the Democrats have won back the majority, I have found myself in such a predicament that I have run out of excuses for my party a long time ago, and thus have leveled more criticism at Democrats not named Zell Miller.

The fact is, much of this criticism is difficult to write for someone who believes one of the biggest weaknesses of the Democratic party is the tendancy to form the circular firing squad; the evolution so common it has the feel of a reflex.  I’m also not one typically to criticize without at least having some sort of sketch of what the right answer might look like.

In the case of the sad state of the Democrats today, that sketch has two parts.  In the first part, there needs to be more significant challenges to those Democratic politicians that venture too far off the reservation.  I fully understand that every politician has his or her own constituency to represent, however, it should also be understood that a Democrat is a Democrat, and people know this when casting their ballots.  You stand up for the core principles, or you let someone else with a D behind their name step up and take over for you.

The other step is positive reinforcement.  The relationship between Democrats and the base is a vicious cycle, one where dissatisfaction of the base has led to low support of the politicians which in turn results in politicians not believing they have the support of the base to rely upon for the tough decisions.  Republicans, whose base consists of the Religious Right (whose numbers may be relatively small, but are extremely powerful in their energy and mobility), the Security Moms (a bloc that carves deep wounds in traditionally Democratic middle class voters), and Corporate America (for which saying money is power would be redundant), have, at least in recent years, enjoyed a base that has been there for them with plenty of political firepower.  Democrats don’t have that, or at least don’t believe they have that, and so don’t bother catering to the base beyond what is needed in primary challenges.

The answer here is simple; when Democrats do stand up, when they do make the tough decisions, we, the base, need to let them know that we’ll be there to support them.  Chris Dodd earned such kudos when he promised to filibuster the retroactive immunity for telecom companies, and Obey and Murtha deserved to hear positively from the base when they promised not to let any Iraq funding bill go without staunch restrictions aimed at bringing to an end US involvement in the Iraq War.

Kevin Hayden of America Street is dead right when he adds Dennis Kucinich to the list for his attempt to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney.

The centrist wing of the Democratic party, the wing of the party that has stood as the biggest obstacle to itself, balks at the very idea of impeachment, believing such an action would be political suicide.  As our libertarian friend Mark points out, this is exactly the reason Democrats have regained the majority in both houses of Congress; to bring to a dead stop the tragic machine of the Bush Administration.  And in regards to impeaching Cheney, this is not only not political suicide, it is actually something that is supported by a majority of Americans.

With too many Democrats not standing up to do the right thing, we need to send a message loud and clear of what happens when you DO do the right thing.  You guys know me, Obama’s my guy in the presidential race, but I agree with Kevin completely here, Dennis deserves the bump in his campaign coffers, if for no other reason than because more Democrats need to know that we will reward them for standing up for what is right, and doing the right thing.

You can contribute to Dennis Kucinich right here.  Please do.

2 Responses to “Positive Reinforcement”

  1. Laura says:

    Well, I would agree, if they were children. I just don’t see these people as timid and worried as I think I’m reading here. They only need us for the election; after that, they are sucked into the vortex that is Washington DC and that is big money and daily forces we can’t imagine. They are powerful in ways that have nothing to do with us and they can’t do the work of the people because they have to constantly raise so much money for re-election. I just think the political suicide worry is BS where the population is concerned, only suicide for their large money contributions if they muss Georgie or Dickie’s hair. Corporations like George and Dick.

  2. Mark says:

    I’m honored for the citation. I just wanted to point out the irony of you all making a favorable reference to something on a website run in part by that legendary Progressive Bob Barr. Strange times, indeed.

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