Over at OpenLeft.com, Matt Stoller takes note of yesterday's Huffington Post column about Jeff Merkley.
This kind of pressure from strong Democratic leaders makes a real difference. Imagine not just one Russ Feingold in the Senate, but five or six. A lot of people misunderstand the nature of criticism of political leadership. Every decision made to throw progressives under the bus came because a progressive lost a fight in a meeting within the campaign; pressure and criticism helps empower those progressives within so those meetings go differently. And with Senators like Merkley unafraid to be public about those criticisms, we have a much better shot at enacting progressive policies.
He quotes the Huffington Post item, and then reacts:
"A major mistake has been not to force the Republicans to filibuster day and night on these issues," [Merkley] said. "The public does not see that obstruction because they don't see on their televisions a senator on the floor of the senate going through the night reading out of a thick tomb of law, if you will, in order to block bills from being considered. We have to put that on show to the American public and show that it's unacceptable... And I am [prepared to start standing up]. FISA is a good example right there. I was proud of Senator Dodd and others for what they did. They lost the vote, but I'm proud of them."
Hell yeah! That is what it means to be a Better Democrat. That is what demonstrating independence means, not kowtowing to Beltway wisdom and voting with the Republicans in a kabuki-esque repudiation of party leadership but representing the mainstream of American public opinion, who are mad at the Beltway itself. This pushes everyone to the left, adds support for Feingold and Dodd, and puts pressure on the centrist factions in the Senate that want to 'get something done' at the expense of our freedoms.
I'm proud of Merkley. I can't wait for him to be in the Senate.
Read the rest. Discuss.