I left a comment after this piece at Hullabaloo, Quisling Chalabi. It restates things I have written recently, so I’ll repeat myself again. (Edited to make me look better, of course.) (Actually, completely reworked, but still sort of based on the comment.)
“If Democrats operated like Republicans, every single Dem would be pounding the neocons at this moment. Salon would do a story a day. Bill Press would enlist Pat Buchanan in a rousing denunciation on each show. The backbench firebrands in the congress would hold press conferences. Oppo researchers would distribute literature about the wacky neocons to every journalist on the beat. “
In my opinion the Republicans are now just an extension of the Scaife/Coors/Bradley, etc.-funded web of ideological think tanks and advocacy organizations — Heritage, Horowitz, Federalist Society, etc. — that call themselves “movement conservatives.” They have this magnificent “message amplification infrastructure” in place – the “Wurlitzer” – that is able to move the public more and more to the right, and their politicians just rest on top of that. I think that is really the key to understanding what is happening to us so I’ll repeat it. The “Wurlitzer” moves the public more and more to the right, and their politicians just rest on top of that.
Messaging and activities are coordinated at the “Wednesday night meetings.” The organizations and people are unified because it ALL depends on the Scaife/etc. money, and, more importantly, because discipline is brutally enforced, often by ruining anyone who doesn’t toe their line.
Moderates and progressives, on the other hand, do not have any system (which I call “infrastructure”) that is designed to reach the general public with messaging designed to move them back from the right, bringing UNDERLYING PUBLIC SUPPORT for their organizations and elected officials across the board. So while it appears to be the fault of a Democratic Party that can’t muster a counterattack, it really is something else.
I think the fault lies with the lack of understanding on the moderate/progressive side of the role of having an “infrastructure” in place, reaching out to the general public, supporting their elected officials, candidates and organizations. The right has been doing it for some time, providing us with a a model. (We can, however, skip the ruining-lives-of-those-who-don’t-toe-the-line part.)
It isn’t the party that accomplishes this — it’s the web of ideological organizations and funders that do the “advance work” of messaging that sets up the public environment that UNDERLIES the party. The problem is that “we” don’t HAVE one.