I love it when smart people agree with me.
My post yesterday, Are Rich Democrats the Problem?, sounded the same theme as Bill Curry’s piece in Salon today, Wall Street and the wingnuts win again: Radical right and radical wealth have captured both parties. Curry first gives a nod to the ridiculousness of today’s Republican Party. Then, he turns to the Democrats and, in a few sentences, rips to shreds the lame excuses party loyalists have been making for years:
How could it be? How could Republicans make such a sad spectacle of Congress, lose every issue in every poll by such huge margins, yet run so close in the race for president — and hold the upper hand in the battle to control Congress? Some blame the system’s corruption by big money. Others blame voters for being lazy, gullible, ignorant or reactionary. The money is awful and we’re all flawed but we can only hope these analyses are false, as they lead nowhere. If you want to know why Democrats are in a dead heat with a gaggle of extremists, look at what they’ve been up to lately.
Curry’s focus is on the non-fight to succeed Harry Reid as the Democratic caucus leader in the Senate. Without a contest, Chuck Schumer, Wall Street’s Senator, will take over for Reid in 2017. Curry:
High-dollar fundraising is now the preferred path to Democratic advancement in Congress. Over a generation the party’s relations with Wall Street were slowly transformed until Barack Obama in 2008 became the first Democratic candidate for president to outraise his Republican opponent there. Nothing that has happened to or within the party has had so much impact on its policy and message. Schumer is one of three men, the others being Tony Coelho and Rahm Emanuel, who made the marriage, and made it work. Today he is its chief guardian and the enforcer of its contract. It is in this role– and not as the founder of some vague message operation — that he has influenced the direction of his party. His influence has been profound.
Should we be looking to Elizabeth Warren to save us? In Curry’s opinion, not no, but hell no:
On Monday, Elizabeth Warren did a long interview on public radio. Sounding to my ear somewhat scripted she measured out a few kind words for Hillary and heaped praise on Schumer. She was in a tough spot, yes, but her performance reminded me how unlikely it is that the system will change from within and of how much we need a strong, independent progressive movement to be the engine of reform.
Curry’s advice to the base, which undoubtedly will go unheeded, is nonetheless spot on:
Schumer’s up for reelection in 2016. It would be great if he got a primary before he got a promotion. (Zephyr Teachout would be an ideal candidate.) The Democrats don’t need a new theme or more money. They need to reclaim their heritage and so reestablish the moral authority of government. They’ll only do it if we force them to. I know what’s stopping them. What’s stopping us?