Go for it, Cindy!

Cindy Sheehan has announced that if Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not put impeachment “on the table,” Sheehan will run against Pelosi in 2008 as an independent.

July 18, 2007 – Establishment Democrats are appalled.

Cindy Sheehan has announced that if Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not put impeachment “on the table,” Sheehan will run against Pelosi in 2008 as an independent.

At a time when the Party must unite for the coming campaign, they complain, along comes this “outsider” to divide the Party’s base support. Furthermore, challenges such is this, and even worse, primary challenges, divert campaign funds. And finally, Nancy Pelosi, a stalwart liberal, does not deserve such treatment.

In short, we are told, if you want to defeat Bush/Cheney and the regressive Republicans, this is not the way to go about it.

Under ordinary circumstances, these would be compelling arguments. But these are not ordinary circumstances. Worse still, establishment Democrats such as Pelosi fail to appreciate that these are not ordinary circumstances. They need a few shocks of recognition.

Cindy Sheehan’s candidacy just might deliver such a therapeutic shock.

The conventional Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) view was clearly expressed on ABC’s “This Week” by Cokie Roberts, just before the Lieberman-Lamont primary: “Pushing the party to the left… is pushing the party to the position from which it traditionally loses.” And the corollary: don’t worry about the progressive left, they will stay with us in any case since they have nowhere else to go.

In support of this view, the Beltway Democrats like to cite polls that indicate that most American describe themselves as “conservative,” followed by “moderate,” with the least amount of citizens describing themselves as “liberal.” Elections are won, they tell us, by enlisting the support of the moderates in the “center.”

What the Beltway Democrats fail to understand is that after three decades of media and pundit pounding on the word “liberal,” most people choose not to be identified with that label. And yet, most Americans endorse the liberal agenda: Social Security, universal health care, a minimum wage, public education, government regulation of commerce, environmental protection, campaign finance reform, honest and verifiable elections, a non-aggressive foreign policy. AsGlenn Greenwald,Rick Perlstein, andJudis and Teixeira have vividly documented, the American Public today is liberal in fact, notwithstanding the largely successful campaign to discredit the word “liberal.”

Stated simply, the conventional, DLC, Beltway Democratic conception of the political landscape is woefully outdated and potentially fatal to the national ambitions of the Democratic Party. For the presumed “center,” at which the allegedly winning votes are to be found, has virtually disappeared. The Republicans now are now far right (as the few remaining “moderates” have been effectively silenced and immobilized). The Democrats are center and center-right, with authentic liberals such as Dennis Kucinich and the Black Caucus marginalized and impotent.

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