Crashing the Gate, Chapter 1

I read Crashing the Gate with great interest – I’m a huge fan of Markos Moulitsas from DailyKos and from time to time, bop on over to Jerome Armstrong’s MyDD as well.

Kos and Jerome are part of the progressive netroots that has helped educate us fellow liberals that the time for dismantling the stagnant Democratic party is nigh.

This is a great book. Much like Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant, Crashing the Gate distills the past 60 years of American politics into a slim, strategic volume.

Chapter 1: American Reality, Circa 2006

Democrats don’t have the ‘institutional machinery’ to support and implement their agenda.

Being centrist lost us the 2000, 2002 and 2004 election cycles – being Republican lite isn’t working.

Simply waiting for the GOP to self-destruct isn’t enough (their under-performance will be their downfall).

We are in a two-party nation – it is easier to reform the Democratic party rather than start and energize a brand new party.

Key Republican constituent groups:

Corpoate Cons: want policy that enables unfettered, unregulated capitalism + subsidies, bailouts and lucrative contracts: oil barons, steel magnates,  pharma, big oil, finance/banking.

Theocons: effective in mobilizing the vote – but very demanding group. The faithful consistently vote against their own economic interest. People vote their values – they vote their identity – who they want to be – not who they are.

Neocons: Project for New American Century, etc. Pre-emptive military action, American exceptionalisn, etc. All this equals war-is-hell/shithole. Again and again, mistakes are rewarded with medals and promotions.

Paleocons: the GOP old guard – true fiscal conservatives seeing their party hijacked by the previous groups.

Katrina illuminated the perils of underfunding government: Bush spent Katrina eating birthday cake with John McCain. Condi partying in NYC. Bush’s fly-over NOLA. Astrodome evacuation.

LBJ’s win of Goldwater was the wake-up call for the GOP.

2004 – Rob Stein (former Clinton official) presented PowerPoint ‘The Conservative Message Machine’s Money Matrix’ outlining how a handful of families had funded an entire ecosystem of convervative institutions, magazines, think tanks, policy centers and journalists.

Democrats have to stand for something – not just be ‘not Bush’.

Backlash Insurance: Republicans are making inroads to make their dominance permanent with judicial appointments, gerrymandering, voting machine chicanery, dismantling Democratic donors, state level successes. ‘Sunset provisions’ that appear to defang long-term legislation but make much more inertia required to unseat it.