Note: Update on the MoveOn campaign is included at the bottom of the post.
I got an email from MoveOn today that caught my eye. It appears to be a sort of push poll to encourage the faithful to get on board with progressive Dems:
It is also part of our work together to hold Democrats to their Party's highest values on issues like foreign policy, economic prosperity and good government.
That sometimes means grappling with specific right-wing Democrats who consistently side with big corporations and right-wing Republicans.
One approach is to support progressive primary challengers to right-wing Democrats. We think this makes sense but it's a big decision so we wanted to check with you and other MoveOn members. What do you think?
I don't think they're actually concerned with what I think, because the remainder of the email describes the evils of conservative Dems. Still, they asked, so here goes.
Nothing irritates me more than Dems who appear unable to resist the magnetic force of GOP power--folks like Joe Lieberman, who rushed up to Bush after last year's State of the Union to receive a kiss on the cheek. We have, for better or worse, a two-party system, and if your party's in the minority, it can't be sucking up to the other team.
But strategically, the MoveOn idea sucks. We've been completely out of power for six years, and mostly out of power for twelve. One of the main reasons is because Americans view us as ideologically rigid--a false view abetted by efforts like this. The Democratic Party needs to do a lot of work, but weeding out the insufficiently blue Democrats shouldn't be part of the game plan. Let's put our efforts where it will really do some good--defeating conservative Republicans in districts where Dems (even conservative ones!) have a shot, like Oregon's 2nd District. I think we can only do this by expanding the tent, not shrinking it.
(And there's something slightly ironic about the plan, too. We hate that the party doesn't have good unity so we ... attack the party. Hmmm.)
If we can't find a platform that unites conservative and liberal Democrats, after all the lies, corruption, and incompetence of the great GOP era, we've got bigger problems than Joe Lieberman's smooch.
[Update, Feb 16: MoveOn has mailed out the findings of its survey. They write: "84% of us agreed we should challenge some right-wing incumbent Democrats in primary elections." Following the formula of the earlier email, in which Henry Cuellar of Texas's 28th District was used as the example of a misbehaving Dem, MoveOn now supports deposing him. I wrote in the post that it felt like a push poll--where MoveOn was trying to gain support for an already-made decision--and this doesn't disabuse me of that suspicion.]