I did a post criticizing Big Tent Democrat over at TalkLeft, and commenter Coldtype questioned how I could possibly disagree with his deep wisdom.In the comments thread below the post I criticize, a commenter pretty clearly summed up the Netroots position, quoting what I assume is a diary on Kos (searched, couldn’t find it, links welcome):
“Intuitively, you are saying to yourself, “How can we expand our party by kicking people out.” Sometimes logic is counterintuitive. It’s very simple. These DLC types represent 1-2% of the American people. That’s 3-6 million individuals and yes their votes count. But if we kick these 3-6 milllion people out and show the American people that we will not tolerate bad Democrats who sell out the middle class to special interests, we’ll gain 40 million new voters.”
In a nutshell, that’s the Netroots fantasy – on the Right as well as the Left, I must say. That if only the party can be more pure, if only they will be more left (or more right), the masses alienated from current dirty, impure politics will rise up and back them.
It’s an electoral version of the Vanguard fantasy.
Now let’s go to recent American political history, and see where this has actually worked.
I can pick three elections.
Paul Wellstone, 1990
Jesse Ventura, 1998
Arnold Schwatrzenegger, 2003
Can you think of any others?
Now each of them has particular features that make it different from the others.
But you know, a 66% chance that the mass of alienated voters will break center-right (which is the only way I can describe Ventura and
Wellstone Ahnold) as opposed to a 33% chance that they will break left seems like a mediocre bet.
Now I agree wholly that many people are alienated from politics, and I’ll even agree with many of the commentators as to why.
But it is simply and completely a fantasy that if they all came into politics, they’d be standing behind the banner of progressivism (or radical conservatism). There isn’t any evidence at all in the polls that that’s the case.
Sorry about the typo re Schwartzengegger/Wellstone…they did look a lot alike, so I’m sure it’s understandable…