the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

July 26, 2005

The DLC Rises Again


When Howard Dean became DNC chair, some of us hoped that the Democratic Leadership Council — which he famously called “the Republican wing of the Democratic Party” — would lose influence, allowing the party to embrace the values of its base rather than chasing the elusive center by embracing the values of the Republicans. Well, the DLC is back in the news, with a big boost from Hillary Clinton.

Conservatives throughout the blogosphere are linking to this Los Angeles Times article and ranting about how Hillary is changing her spots — apparently they’re under the impression that she’s really Dennis Kucinich or maybe Noam Chomsky. I first saw the article mentioned by Charles Bird at Obsidian Wings, who uses it as an opportunity to reinforce the talking point that Democrats are “the Party of No”.

Hillary is calling for a truce within the party, and that would be a good thing, but it’s the DLC who’s been jumping on Dean and any other Democrat who is too “shrill” in attacking the Bush administration. Republicans have learned (perhaps too well) not to criticize each other, but when a Democrat like Senator Richard Durbin expresses outrage about prisoner abuse, other Democrats like Mayor Richard Daley are standing ready to stab him in the back by being “outraged about the outrage” (in the words of Republican James Inhofe). With friends like these … well, you know the rest.

One bit I remember from Don’t Think of an Elephant (one of our earlier books of the month) is this:

Don’t move to the right. Rightward movement hurts in two ways. It alienates the progressive base and it helps conservatives by activating their model in swing voters.

By talking about Republican values and ignoring Democratic ones, the DLC keeps people thinking about the things the Republicans want them thinking about and ignoring the things we want them to concentrate on. David Sirota gives an example. This article quotes DLC founder Al From going on and on about how Democrats are weak on defense and puts this headline above it: “Dems told to back military”. Is that the message we’re trying to get out?

I agree with Sirota, as quoted in the LA Times article:

“The fact is, the Democratic Party has to make a choice: is it going to continue to follow the DLC, be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Corporate America, and lose elections for the infinite future,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Or is it going to go back to its roots of really representing the middle class and standing up for ordinary people’s economic rights?”

The DLC folks need to learn that what we should copy from the Republicans isn’t their policies — it’s their strategy: standing up for our true beliefs, supporting each other even when we disagree, and not being so afraid of what our critics will say.

post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.


DCDL is a blog by Washington, DC-area members of Drinking Liberally. Opinions expressed are the writers’, not those of Drinking Liberally, which provides no funding or other support for this blog.

Upcoming Events

See information on the revived DC chapter (2012).

DCDL Member Blogs

DCDL Speaker Links

DC Links

Liberal (Mostly) Blogs

Liberal Groups

Internal Links


Drinking Liberally

Recent Comments

Recent Posts


Search Blog



46 queries. 0.372 seconds