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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Obama has already won

Here is something to keep in mind as we wait to see which Pennsylvania prevails in today's Democratic primary election: the Clintons were supposed to win from the start. The story here is not Barack Obama's inability to knock them out, despite lacking the winner-take-all formula of Republican primaries. The real story is that Obama has already defeated the stranglehold of the DLC over the Democratic Party.

Here, thanks to Wikipedia, is the list of DLC chairmen since its founding in 1985:
Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri (1985–1986)
Gov. Chuck Robb of Virginia (1986–1988)
Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia (1988–1990)
Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas (1990–1991)
Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana (1991–1993)
Rep. Dave McCurdy of Oklahoma (1993–1995)
Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut (1995–2001)
Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana (2001–2005)
Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa (2005–2007)
Former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee (2007–present)

For those who follow American politics closely, the names on that list speak for themselves. The DLC approach to politics is to follow the Republicans ever rightward on the false assumption that the country is going ever more conservative. DLC candidates generally forgo the party's progressive legacy, repudiate appeals to the poor and working class as 'class warfare', and beg conservative voters to trust Democrats again by 'getting tough' on core Democratic constituencies. Bill Clinton did this in 1992 by executing Ricky Ray Rector with great fanfare and scapegoating Sister Souljah. And what did it get him? 43% of the vote in 1992 and a Republican Congress two years later.

The Democrats cannot win with 43% of the vote anymore, at least not without Ross Perot. And the party won't win the electoral college with the Kerry-states strategy of the Clintons.

Obama has already slain the beast inside the party and will win the nomination. What matters is not whether the Clintons beat him in safe Democratic states like Pennsylvania but whether, in line with Howard Dean's fifty-state strategy, his insurgent campaign can energize the party in the western states and other places outside the tired DLC playbook. I think we already know the answer to that.

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