By Daniel Larison
Glenn Greenwald has a pointed, smart post about the responses to his call to oust Blue Dog Democrats from the party. One of the observations he made that applies equally well to the mentality in both parties was this:
Blind, uncritical allegiance to one's Party -- and to all of its officials -- is the defining attribute of a tolerant, enlightened, and savvy progressive, and is the very heart of a healthy democracy. Those who diverge from absolute Party loyalty are Stalinists.
Replace "tolerant, enlightened and savvy progressive" with "prudent, wise and loyal conservative" and you might just as easily be talking about the experience of conservatives in the Bush Era. Something that the defenders of party loyalty seem never to be able to grasp is that loyalty is a mutual obligation. It is not only something that supporters are supposed to give to their party, but it is something that party leaders owe to the people who put them and keep them in their positions. Bizarrely, it is those on the left who most want to pursue a real progressive agenda who are criticized for imitating the sort of lock-step partisan loyalty to political leadership that typified the Bush years, while those who are content to enable and collaborate in the worst abuses of the administration are the pragmatic and reasonable ones. This is the absurd, imaginary world in which Ron Paul and Russ Feingold are extremists and Joe Lieberman and John McCain are "centrists"--no wonder the arguments defending that world make no sense.
What is especially strange about the conventional wisdom Greenwald is attacking is the idea that being antiwar hurts Democratic candidates in the country at large. Nancy Boyda of KS-02 is allegedly one of the most vulnerable first-term Democratic House members and this is supposedly because of her opposition to the "surge," yet she has high approval ratings and a good chance of being re-elected in what has normally been a fairly reliable Republican district until two years ago. Both Travis Childers and Don Cazayoux campaigned and won as antiwar Democrats in the Deep South. The national Democratic leadership continues to cower and refuses to pressure the administration on the war, and in their defense you will hear arguments about the need to protect conservative Democratic candidates in competitive districts. However, when it comes to the Iraq war the problem is not so much Blue Dogs who are worried about their re-election as it is a party leadership worried about placating Washington establishment opinion.
Cross-posted at Eunomia