A Progressive View On the DLC’s “National Conversation”

There were a handful of Western Slope Democrats at the Democratic Leadership Council’s (DLC) “National Conversation” session last week. One of these Democrats, from the progressive side of the party, was Harvie Branscomb. He is the co-chair of the Eagle County Democratic Party and was co-chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party’s platform committee for 2006. Branscomb was asked to share some of his thoughts about the DLC meeting.Q. What was you overall impression about the DLC’s “National Conversation?” Did you have a favorite session?

A. “My most informative session (but not necessarily most correct) was:  How Colorado Dems won in 2004

I learned that the DLC thinks that only four rich guys paid for the Colorado miracle in the 2004 election. Then, I heard that a variety of PAC s- who carefully selected excellent candidates, went tirelessly door-to-door, bloodying their knuckles with their “unifying” message – were the ones who won the elections for the Democrats.

No mention was made of any supportive grass roots efforts (when a reporter asked about this topic — the ground strategy — the panel went absolutely silent.)  I happen to know that a large cast of progressive Democratic Party activists and Mike Miles supporters swallowed their pride and took to the streets in the 2004 election to try to elect a number of candidates, who were in many cases, not their first choice. 

One might think that the DLC members would have found something generous to say about these folks, who are now filtering into tactical positions throughout the Colorado Democratic Party.

Most problematic panel: Defeating Jihadism– courtesy of the Progressive Policy Institute…(I have not quite got the title correct)

Here I found the source of the fiction that our national top priority is to make war against Muslims who are bent on our destruction.  This is the enduring explanation for our overworked national security and homeland security focus. Real Dems know that security budgets are pork-fat and that what we really need are safer more efficient cars, a more humble foreign policy, and less national greed.  Those will make us much safer.”

Q. Did you come home with any “tools” for the upcoming election or any inspirations about Democratic values?

A. “Yes. I realized that if we follow the advice of the DLC, we would win a Pyrrhic victory. We will replace a neo-conservative administration with a demo-conservative administration, which is just as fond of fictitious dreams and groundless realities and will not be able to regain the confidence of the public. 

We will continue to be governed by misplaced fear and our nation will become even more dangerous than we are now, as there will be no minority party left on the left to potentially put the brakes on our empire building.  In fact, it will be up to the Republicans to stop the needless spending on security.”

Q. As the Democratic Party Co-chairman of the platform committee, where there any similarities or striking dissimilarities between the platform and topics discussed during the DLC sessions?

A. “I handed the platform to Rutt Bridges, to which he immediately replied: “I don’t want this. We can’t win elections with this.” 

The DLC is 100% filtered by strategy. Strategy between well-oiled Republicans and well-heeled Democrats varies only in infinitesimal ways.  While the party platforms clearly define the difference between Democrats and Republicans at the rank and file, the DLC is the place where candidates learn to forget the platform and take on fictitious issues like immigration and security to get elected. 

Perhaps the DLC can help to win elections within the framework of existing assumptions, many of which are crafted for the purpose by Republican candidates and Republican influenced media.  If we win through this filter, our platform may still never become policy, for every Democratic winner must begin again to find the strategy for their next victory and avoid opening their minds to all of the disturbing and real issues of Democrats.”

Q. If you attended Monday’s activities, was there any potential presidential candidate that you were impressed with?

A. “I was very impressed with Hillary Clinton.  She delivered a very well spoken speech, listing numerous pieces of actual legislation and managed to mention security in only one or two sentences. To me, this is the mark of a candidate that recognizes how to distinguish between Democratic and Republican values. 

On the down side, she is still spinning a web of fiction with her “It’s the American Dream Stupid” campaign. I know Republicans love the “American Dream”, but too many Democratic voters are beyond that Santa Claus-like fib. 

I think hard facts and real legislation (which she does have in her purse) will work for her. But will she stick to these constructive issues in her regular stump speech? And after she is elected will she roll back the Republican fever for security back into the closet? 

We would have no evidence for that from her appearance at the DLC, where the principal concept in discussions is how to capitalize on security fears. “Fear Reduction” was not a title of one of the workshops.”

Harvie Branscomb is also the CEO of StandbySoft LLC.

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