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Susan Madrak Headshot

Don't Let The Door Hit You in The Ass On The Way Out

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Noam Scheiber of "Even The Liberal" New Republic says it's time to show the Democratic Leadership Council the door:

Today, the council has almost no constituency within the Democratic Party. About every five years, the Pew Research Center conducts a public opinion survey to sort out the country's major ideological groupings. In 1999, Pew found that liberals and New Democrats each accounted for nearly one-quarter of the Democratic base. By the next survey in 2005, New Democrats had completely disappeared as a group and the liberals had doubled their share of the party. Many moderates, radicalized by President Bush, now define themselves as liberals.

On a variety of issues the council, and not the party's liberal base, is out of touch with the popular mood. A recent Washington Post poll found that 60 percent of independents, along with 70 percent of Democrats, favor withdrawing from Iraq by next spring.

Two decades of work by the Democratic Leadership Council -- and a not inconsiderable assist from President Bush -- have made the Democratic Party the healthiest it has been in the 22 years of the council's existence. Democrats should thank the group and then tell it that it's no longer needed.

I have a different perspective: that the DLC actually strengthened the right wing of the Republican party and needlessly prolonged the reign of the conservatives.

How could it not? The DLC's big-business philosophy (enabled by cooperative publications like TNR), its backing for trade agreements like NAFTA and programs like Clinton's welfare "reform" made the economic oppression of the poor and working classes downright respectable. That's not something they should be proud of, nor is it something we should let them forget.

This corporatist wing of the Democratic party also led to the inclusion of Joe Lieberman on the presidential ticket with Al Gore, and his subsequent influence. Instead of appealing to voters on traditional Democratic values like economic fairness and prosperity, we conceded the "values" debate to the Republicans by including Lieberman. We gave them the protective cover they badly needed. Even worse, from the strategic standpoint: We chose to play the game on their home field, not ours.

And as the Republican party pushed the goalposts further and further right, the DLC was right there on the sidelines: Rah! Rah! Sis boom bah!

So to them, I offer this traditional Irish blessing: Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

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