There is this misconception in the press and in Washington that the netroots and other progressive activists want their representatives to be more liberal. The myth is that we want to drag the party all the way to the left and take them away from the center. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We don't need elected officials to be any more liberal or progressive; we just need them to be stronger. Is Senator Schumer's problem that he isn't liberal enough? I don't think so. His problem is that he caves in to the Bush administration on anything that might vaguely be in the "national security" realm because he's scared and miserably weak.
I know that the Mukasey confirmation is a little different because Schumer had parochial interests in mind as well. Well, how heroic! So, he's not only afraid of Bush on national security but also interested in putting his local political machine over his voters' interest. Very heart-warming.
But as we all know, it's not just the Mukasey appointment. It's not just Schumer. It's warrantless wiretapping, it's torture, it's Iraq, it's Iran, it's signing statements, it's the US attorneys firings, it's the Patriot Act, it's presidential secrecy, it's the Geneva Conventions, etc., etc. The list of Democratic cave-ins is so long that it's painful to think about. You could open up a buckle store with all these Democratic buckles.
Just this week, they caved in on Mukasey and Iraq funding. How many times are we going to hear these annoying bloviators talk about how terrible the war is going and then quietly fund the debacle anyway? They must think we're stupid. I like how Schumer and Feinstein coordinated their Friday press releases on Mukasey to take pressure off each other. And they released it on a Friday night. Did you think we wouldn't notice?
It's not that the Senators don't agree with us on the Iraq War, it's that they don't vote that way! I don't need them to be more liberal - I don't even know what the "more liberal" position on Iraq is. I'm not even sure what the so-called liberal position on Iraq is. I know that we should leave Iraq because George W. Bush is never going to figure out the right strategy there and the central government of Iraq is a fraud. Is that a liberal position?
If I thought the central Iraqi government was working, would that make me a conservative? I now think our negotiated deal with the Sunni tribal chiefs is a step in the right direction. Since I think this piece of the Iraq puzzle is working better, have I become more conservative overnight? Or is it possible that these labels are silly?
On many domestic and trade issues, Chuck Schumer is way to the left of me. I don't need him to be more liberal. I need him to have a spine. I need him to stand up for what he pretends to stand up for.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll confirms that a majority of the country is dissatisfied with the Democratic Congress not because they won't compromise with Bush, but because they will.
A majority of independents say that Democrats aren't fighting Bush enough (53% of independents say this, which closely matches 55% of all Americans who agree). Yet, our press tells us that we need Democrats who compromise more. God, do they have any idea how ridiculous that sounds?
The press is obsessed with being centrists. I actually think this is a generally positive urge normally. But it needs to be combined with good judgment. You need to consider the circumstances on a case by case basis to see where the centrist position is. The mid-point between Democrats and Republicans is not always the center of the country.
The mid-point between this Congress and President Bush is way, way, way to the right of the mid-point between 1990 Democratic Congress and George H.W. Bush. So, let me ask these wise centrists of the press - which is the real center of the country?
Some can claim that the country has become a lot more conservative. There is only one problem with that thesis. It isn't true. The polls don't back it up at all. Democrats now enjoy huge leads in nearly every issue in the country. And I don't know if people noticed this, but the Democrats crushed the Republicans in 2006. They picked up 36 Republican seats and lost none. That's an amazing fact.
Why do you think this is? Has the country all of sudden gotten a lot more liberal between 2004 and 2006? Of course not. It is a realignment. It's the American people letting Washington know - you have slipped too far to the right, come back to the center!
The problem isn't that the country is too conservative (or too liberal, depending on the election you look at), the problem is Washington takes so long to adjust. The press and the politicians are still reacting as if we're in 2003 and Bush still has any sway on national security matters. The guy is at 24%. He doesn't have any sway over anything.
Even more importantly, the press is assuming the center of the country is between these Democrats and these Republicans when that isn't anywhere near true. These Republicans are grossly unpopular and these Democrats couldn't stand up to them if you put a wall behind them.
We're all so tired of the buckles. What we're even more tired of is the press telling us that we just want the Democrats to be more liberal because we are left-wing extremists. We're standing right in the middle of the country politically. The difference between us and the Democratic politicians isn't that they are standing to the right of us; it's that they aren't standing at all.