The Rise of the New Democrats

The new Democrats’ rise certainly hasn’t been lost on progressives and the netroots. At Salon last week, constitutional lawyer and activist Glenn Greenwall has recently announced that he’s launched a $350,000 campaign to kick out the right leaning “Blue Dogs” and prevent the ascension of any new ones–even if this costs the party control in Congress. Greenwald has some legitimate objections–as he points out, the Blue Dogs are generally bad on civil liberties, support a very Bushian conception of executive authority, and have been slow, to say the least, to challenge the president’s war policy. But then it’s wrong to think of the new Democrats as “moderates” or slippery pragmatists.

Greenwald is missing how politicians like Webb, Childers, and Conley are capturing a certain populist spirit that the GOP has owned for years–that rarely articulated, often abused, and above all vague sense that a party sticks up for God, country, and the average Joe. In 2004, Howard Dean talked about how he wanted to win over all those guys with Confederate Flag bumper stickers. Be careful what you wish for.

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