Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The Illusion of a Conflict


  • The DailyKos on the DCCC's initial sloppiness with respect to the Ginny Schrader candidacy.
  • The DailyKos on the culture of fear among Washington Democrats.
  • Digby on the most important job Democrats have.
  • Matt Stoller bringing Democratic partisans together.

Having read these posts and the threads that follow them (and contributed some to the heat within) I am left with the impression that partisans for both sides in this debate about how the Democrats should win back power ("fight back!", "better strategy!", "FIGHT BACK!", "BETTER STRATEGY!") are arguing their own position as if it was in conflict with the position of the other side.

The conflict is an illusion.

There is nothing inherent in the two camps positions that makes the other sides ideas inoperative. You can "fight back" with a "better strategy".

I think what upsets people like Markos, myself and others is not strategizing per se. It is the idea that a superior strategy is the only method that will work to defeat the Republicans. The 90s taught us two lessons:

  1. Democrats can win with a "better strategy", but
  2. They will continue to lose if they don't mix in an equal measure of "fighting back".

Some of the people who responded negatively to Markos' initial complaint seemed to be under the impression that those who were upset didn't care about whether Schrader was the best candidate for the job. Wrong. The concern was over the DCCC's public response to the issue, not whether they should back her or not.

"Fighting back" does not mean that we think that fighting is the be-all and end-all of politics. The failures of the Dean campaign show that a fighting spirit will only get you so far. You need a superior strategy as well. But a fighting spirit is required if you want to have a chance to put that strategy into effect.

This is not an either-or situation. We must not adopt the "with us or against us" attitude of the Bushies or the Naderites. We must learn how to fuse a superior strategy with the fire of a populist campaign.

If we don't, then we will lose. And by losing I don't just mean not beating George W. Bush this Fall. I mean that even if Kerry manages to defeat Bush we will still lose if his presidency becomes immediately bogged down in the kind of arguments we have seen in the last few days.

Let's not forget who the real enemy is here.


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