04.03.10 Punish Bad Dems?

How good it would feel to go after the bad guys within “our” party — all those damn DINOs (Democrats in name only).  It would be so satisfying to go after every anti-choice, pro-corporate, in-the-pocket-of-the-[fill in the blank]-industry slime buckets.  But if we were to enforce ideological purity, who would we have left?  And that’s the dilemma.

One of the two main political parties in this country has gone down the path to purity.  That’s the GOP.  There’s no room left in that party for anyone who is not deeply committed to theocracy, hypocrisy, bigotry, militarism, aggression, and enriching the rich.  Those pictures of McCain and Palin together tell the story (see my last post).  You have to embrace idiocy to win in the Republican Party.  And it this rush to the far right that has given the Democrats their hold on power, as precarious as it is.

The Democratic Party, on the other hand — and as painful as it is for progressives, is not an ideological party.  “We” span the spectrum from Dennis Kucinich and Donna Edwards to Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson.  (I put “we” in quotes because of how painful it is for me to include myself in a party I find so spineless and inclusive of so many impure hearts.)  And we’re going to lose seats this fall — the question is only how many.  So, if we do as NARAL asks and fatally injure the anti-choice among us or help defeat the others we judge to be “bad,” we lose our majority.  And that means, a return to government by the truly evil and truly crazy motherfuckers of the GOP.

There’s a great example here in Maryland: Rep. Frank Kratovil of Maryland’s GOP-leaning first district.  The seat had been in GOP hands for a generation and in 2008 Kratovil beat a right-wing nut-job by a razor thin margin.  He turned out to be was one of 34 Dems to vote against healthcare reform last month.  So, are we better off with him in that seat or not?

This call for punishing bad Dems reminds me of the progressive objections to the healthcare bill itself, led almost to the end by Kucinich.  I agree with the argument that the bill sucks in many, many ways.  But, in the end, the argument didn’t come down to this bill or some better bill.  Rather, it came down to this bill or NO bill.

In the same way, the argument about Kratovil isn’t about him vs. a more progressive candidate.  Nope, it’s about him vs. true, unmitigated evil.

Now, I’m all for primary challenges against right-wing Dems in districts where Dem voters have a majority.  But let us not throw away our majority in search of perfection.  We don’t get to choose a better political system (and culture) where progressives can decide the outcome.  We have to play ball — and win — in only political system we have.

I’m as passionate about reproductive freedom (and other freedom-of-conscience issues) as the next person, and I certainly won’t be sending any cash to Bart Stupak and his kin.  But I am going to take a deep breath and accept that we can’t win without some of those guys.

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