Recently, Al From, founder of the Democratic Leadership Council, used a front page New York Times story to warn Senator Obama and other Democratic leaders that, "the antiwar people cannot define the Democratic Party."
Al From is wrong, again.
For years, the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) has been warning the Democratic Party about the dangers of being associated with progressive values, ideas and policies. Time and again, their advice has proven disastrous.
After Al Gore's defeat in 2000, From and pollster Mark Penn argued Gore lost the election in part because he abandoned the DLC message. But it was Gore's progressive message - making prosperity work for all - that helped him erase the seventeen-point deficit he held heading into the Democratic convention. In 2004, the DLC attacked Howard Dean as an elitist liberal and warned our party to "seize the vital center." Yet John Kerry's attempt to do just that failed to deliver the governing majority From and the DLC promised it would.
Now they are at it again - this time attacking "the antiwar people" while promoting the vice presidential credentials of their former Chairman Senator Bayh.
And who are these "antiwar people"? According to recent polling, it's probably you. Nine out of ten Democrats want the next president to end the war in Iraq, and an astonishing 66% of the American public opposes the war. Al From and his colleagues at the DLC may not like it, but the party that sides with the "antiwar people" sides with the majority of Americans. Not a bad place to be on election day.
The truth that From hopes we'll forget is that, after years of failure using the DLC's Republican-lite strategy, Democrats took back Congress in 2006 with a progressive, antiwar message. As the New York Times reported that fall, "the vast majority of House candidates in competitive races ran as Iraq war critics," as did all six new Democratic Senators.
It is no wonder, then, that Senator Obama is the Democratic nominee. Much like the progressive champions of the 2006 freshmen Democratic class, his early and vocal opposition to the war defined a message of change that America was waiting for. And as Matthew Yglesias has pointed out, it was that courageous opposition that made his successful challenge to Hillary Clinton's candidacy possible.
The time has come for Al From and the DLC to realize that if our nominee and our party want to win in November, they too will be "antiwar people."
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