Jeffrey Feldman writes about the divisions underlying the health care debate in this post by Glenn Greenwald (who was writing about this Jake McIntyre post). Ironically, many of the observations he makes about the inside/outside dichotomy in the Democratic party were sketched out in this this prescient piece by Pach on the eve of the 2006 election.
It’s worth revisiting now not only for its insight, but because it points out these fault lines have been visible for a long time. He said at the time that the biggest battle grassroots progressives would have to fight wouldn’t really be with the GOP, but with DC/K Street elitists who operate within both parties:
The wave of Democratic wins expected this Tuesday would not only represent a populist rejection of the ruling coalition of the first two machines, but would also represent a beginning experiment with positive support for a new Grassroots Progressive American politics. However, Grassroots Progressives will still have to struggle against an existing national Democratic power structure DC/K Street Elitists for control of the Democratic Party.
In fact, the battle between the Grassroots Progressives and the DC/K Street Elitists in the Democratic Party has already begun. The DC/K Street Elitist party does not really want to use the Grassroots Progressives as its get out the vote machinery because it knows the Grassroots Progressives don’t really want to keep the gravy train alive for the insiders. Instead, Grassroots Progressives support systemic reforms that promote clean elections, like public campaign financing, which would gut the multibillion dollar American lobbying industry.
Establishment Democrats like the Clintons, Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer don’t want to overturn the established order of the DC/K Street Elites, but want rather to wrest control of the K Street cash machine from their Republican counterparts. This is why they opposed grassroots candidates who opposed the Iraq occupation: the Iraq occupation was bought, paid for and approved of by their constituents in the DC/K Street Elitist party, especially by big oil and the defense contracters. Chuck and Rahm want to do business with (read: profit from) the DC/K Street Elitist party, not overturn it.
Since many of the candidates Chuck, Rahm and the Clintons opposed will win Tuesday, they are already using the establishment media machine to claim these victories as their own “Democratic” victories. In other words, they’re already preemptively lying (see the video above again for an illustration). The Democratic Party now is really two parties engaged in a pitched political war for control. The two sides will remain in opposition within the Democratic Party not only after Tuesday, but throughout and beyond the Democratic primaries leading up to 2008.
Grassroots Progressives will benefit from many protest votes supporting their candidates this election cycle, but their claim to a popular mandate will not yet be secure unless their wins are huge. The country is willing to experiment with this new political movement, but so far this may just represent a courtship.
What we couldn’t foresee then was the impact that libertarian Republicans would have on their own party. As Ron Paul said recently, Obama has neutralized the anti-war left and he thinks if there is an end to the war it will come from the right. And so we’re seeing young anti-war GOP libertarian candidates like Adam Kokesh, who represent a break with the grassroots theocrats on the right.
We’re also starting to see the rise of the left-right civil liberties coalition of the Swedish Pirate Party, which is sweeping up young people all over Europe and now has 2 seats in the EU. How successful this alliance will be remains to be seen, but as the old fault lines are breaking down it creates intense tribal hostility in some quarters. Perhaps those of us who have worked with civil libertarians of the GOP for years (and watched them pilloried by their own party for doing so) are going to be more comfortable making those “strange bedfellows” alliances, but the inadequacies of the status-quo are quickly opening up many others to them too.
New opportunities, new dialectics, new conversations. I’m probably never going to agree with very much that’s written on Red State, but it’s not enough to say something was on Red State by way of dismissing its validity. Because I look at this post by Dan Perrin and I think it’s really smart and aside from an observation that DeMint’s move cold be easily overcome by Reid, I think it’s spot on.
As Pach said of the DC/K Street elites of 2006 who controlled the GOP at the time:
[I]t also does business with “third way” Democrats like the Clintons and their establishment DC allies operating under the label of the Democratic Party. Rahm Emanuel belongs to this machine, as do Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, Barack Obama, Heath Shuler and most of the rest of the DC Democrats, especially, but not exclusively, in the Senate.This party brought you Viet Nam and Iraq, because both were good for business and provided lots of room for war profiteering.
We couldn’t have that conversation during the primary battles — there was no context for it within the love/hate him/her prism that politics was exclusively viewed through at the time (and which so many simply cannot extricate themselves from).
It’s time we have it now.