Monday, April 17, 2006

Who Am I? (Canadian readers' edition) Plus: Dems vs. Libs!

I was asked about myself in a comments thread. I'll answer it here.

Hey Demosthenes,

I've been reading your posts on the Calgary Grit and I can't help but to notice that you have a pretty good grasp on American Democratic Politics. I too have an interest in said politics, as I have studied American History and Political Science for some years.

First, are you now, or have you ever been a citizen of the United States?

Second, by your estimation, what is the current strength of the DLC? Do the back-to-back losses of Gore and Kerry mean that the party's constituents are ready to try something new?

And, I guess while I'm here: what does Al From do these days?

In response: I don't answer questions about nationality or background. Sorry. There's a reason for that: I firmly believe in the importance, power, and necessity of pseudonymous rhetoric and debate, and am loathe to give that up. There is some small information in the archives about where I live, but I'm not going to dwell on that. If you're interested in where my name comes from, or why I started this site, my first post should cover that well enough.

(For those who think that this is some kind of stealth blog by a Liberal party staffer... that post was from 2002. The famous Digby used to be a commentator on my site. I've been around for a while.)

In any case, I have started spending more time on Canadian politics, however, as what I've written will definitely "out" me as a small 'l' liberal. I believe that Canada is, or could be, the heart of North American liberalism, because the term doesn't contain the pejorative connontations that it does in the U.S. The Liberal party has a lot to do with that, so its leadership battle matters a lot to me. I'm hoping that Mexico's shift leftward will help it play that same kind of role, but it's tricky for me to keep up with the Mexican scene... among other things, I don't speak or read Spanish.

On the second question... I'm honestly not sure. A lot depends on 2006, a race that is the Dems' to lose. Hillary is the frontrunner and the DLC's dream candidate, but she's carrying a ton of baggage and, in my opinion, can't win the election. She's like Ignatieff and Kerry in that she was either too afraid or too blinded to oppose the Iraq war when it mattered, and does so now because it's politically expedient. If the Dems do really well in 2006, it's very likely that the DLC will claim victory and try to carry it over to the 2008 primaries. If the Dems don't do as well as hoped, then they might be in trouble, as the powers-that-be in the Democratic party will have lost what little respect remains in the eyes of the party base. That will likely create openings for different candidates.

(Of course, if the DLC's chosen don't do as well as the more liberal candidates, that will affect things as well.)

The biggest difference between the Dems and the Liberals (other than the NDP), by the way, is fundraising. The Dems have figured out that small donations matter, and the great victory of the Democratic "netroots" (like Atrios, DailyKos, and MyDD) is that they have created a solid online vehicle for taking those small donations, bundling them, and aiming them at progressive candidates. While the contributions haven't been decisive, they represent enormous possibilities for the future, and everybody knows it. That's why people were trying to get the FEC to shut them down. Canada's different. While Jason has moved in that direction, it's still embryonic. The Liberals were and are still too dependent on big donors, but Harper is shutting that door for good.

Make no mistake: this is a path that the Liberal party MUST follow. The only question is when and how they get on it.

The thing is, you can't get donations by walking the middle path. People aren't going to donate to opportunistic, gutless "centrists" with no vision and no beliefs. They certainly aren't going to donate to candidates who don't have the courage of their own convictions and the willingness to take a stand for progressive and, yes, liberal positions on issues. That includes Iraq, and that includes torture, and that includes Iran.

The Liberal party has two main problems: a lack of focus, and a lack of funding. Fortunately for them, they can solve both problems at the same time. The problem is that that will take more than health care and gay marriage. It will take liberal positions on issues that Bay St. will not like, Wall St. even less, and Washington least of all.

The Dems haven't shown that kind of courage. The bizarre rule of Al From and the DLC proves it.

The jury is still out on the Liberals, and that's why the leadership race matters.

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