Liberal blogger roy edroso at Alicublog dings me (appropriately) for making predictions that the Democratic Party was headed for civil war – when it is today clearly in the driver’s seat while the GOP is marshalling forces for its internal conflict.
…our old warblogger friend Armed Liberal, who complained in 2004 that an authentic liberal like Jeff Jarvis (!) “gets piled on for being ‘inadequately liberal’. And that’s a pisser. First, and foremost, it once again wraps up the smug ‘I know better than you’ that the Democratic Party has become associated with — and which lots of people, including me, find amazingly offensive.” He predicted that the Taliban Democrats “are going to lose a lot of political power.”
He’s right to bust me (my predictions were wrong) …and he deserves his moment of glory.
But…he ought to savor it while he’s got it.
Because while it’s obvious that the Republicans are snapping at each other’s heels – see this post from local blog Mayor Sam:
I was talking with a friend the other day who is a high-level figure in the Republican Party here in California. I discussed with him my theory that there is a Civil War brewing inside the Party. Two election cycles of defeats have made the party meetings and discussions very rancorous. Moderates and Conservatives have been wrestling for control of the party, and in the end, only one side can win.
“It’s too late” he said, “the war is already here.”
Which all depends on where ‘here’ is:
There was an article in The Hill the other day about Rep. Jane Harman’s plight:
Tangled in wiretap, opposed by left, Harman could face tough primary
Anti-war forces and liberal bloggers have despised Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) for years, and now they smell blood in the water.
Harman has taken plenty of heat from her left flank over the years for supporting the Iraq war and President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program. And now that she’s in some political trouble for allegedly offering favors on a federal wiretap, her detractors might just have the ammo they need.
Already, 2006 primary opponent Marcy Winograd has opened an exploratory committee and others are also making their interest known. Plus, bloggers are talking about recruiting one of the their own to challenge Harman.
But that’s not the end of Harman’s troubles…from the same Hill post cited above:
Howie Klein, the Southern California-based author of the DownWithTyranny blog, said the new revelations could help change that.
“When Marcy ran the first time, it was a really tough road for her, because people didn’t understand,” Klein said. “Even on a really great website like Daily Kos, there were a lot of people that didn’t understand.”
Klein said a group of bloggers met earlier this year to discuss challenging Harman in a primary, weeks before the recent revelations. He said many in the blogging community would like a fellow blogger, John Amato, to challenge Harman and that Amato is considering it.
Winograd said that she would step aside for the right candidate, and that she’s taking up the mantle at least for now.
“I don’t know who else will answer the call, if not me,” she said. “People with great name recognition and track records in public office are not going to take her on.”
What’s clear is that not everybody is ready to go with Winograd again. And, in the heavily Democratic district, the Dem nominee is the likely winner. While Klein praised Winograd, other activists want to look elsewhere.
“There is a general sense that she would not be supported,” said a prominent activist focused on mounting a primary against Harman.
And the upshot, from John Amato:
I wanted to confirm to my readers that I am considering running for Jane Harman’s seat. I’ve had meetings with bloggers and activists way before this story broke and they have urged me on. I’ve also been contacted by established campaign managers who have won elections which included huge upsets in the past that have expressed a serious interest in managing my campaign. This is a very important step in the process. At this point I am considering it, but haven’t made a decision yet. I’m going to take my time before I decide, but I thought I owed it to you to confirm this report.
Sounds like a strange version of ‘Peace and Tranquility’ to me…it will actually be interesting to see if Obama campaigns for Harman or not. So far he has been an extraordinarily unifying figure for the party (and to an extent for the nation), and his position on this will be telling.
And here’s what really matters…from Pew Research:
Over the first four months of 2009, the Republican Party has continued to lose adherents. Interviews with over 7,000 respondents nationwide so far this year found fewer than a quarter (23%) of the combined total identifying themselves as Republicans. This is down from 25% in 2008, and from 30% in 2004. In total, the GOP has lost roughly a quarter of its base over the past five years.
But these Republican losses have not translated into substantial Democratic gains. So far in 2009, 35% of adults nationwide identify as Democrats, about the same as in 2008 (36%). While GOP identification has fallen seven points since 2004, the Democrats have gained only two points over that period. Instead, a growing number of Americans describe themselves as independents, 36% in 2009 compared with just 32% in 2008 and 30% in 2004.
Or, even clearer in pictures:
I don’t know a lot about the Republican Party compared to the Democratic one, but this suggests that there’s a long-term structural problem there…Andrew Breitbart has a lot to say about it, and it’s sensible. But today, what we have is a large minority of Democrats, a smaller minority of Republicans, and a larger minority of independents – some of them people who, like Jeff Jarvis felt drummed out of the Democratic Party, and who are – as I’ve been saying all along – vital to the electoral success of either party.
Imagine for a moment that Hillary had been the Democratic nominee – someone far less skilled at reaching out than Obama – how would the Democrats have done with those independents?
The reality is that political parties are the equivalent of record companies, movie studios, book publishers, and large law, accounting, and consulting firms – middlemen in an age of disintermediation. They will continue to be powerful brands, but they will not be the only powerful brands, and talent will be less and less controlled by and beholden to the intermediary. They just matter less.