The devil and the Democratic soul

A Report from Netroots Nation:

Like singed hair, the aroma of evil hangs in the air. It’s the smell from the disintegration of American values in the populist, political discourse, these days.

There is a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. That’s what liberal and progressive bloggers and activists were told, Thursday night, at the sixth annual Netroots Nation gathering in Minneapolis. In separate speeches, former presidential candidate and New Hampshire Gov. Howard Dean, and former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, implored the conclave to help restore progressive values to the Democrats.

Feingold at Netroots 2011
Fromer Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold speaks to the Netroots Nation convention in Minneapolis, June 16, 2011

“Netroots serves as a check” on the values of politics, the government and the media, Feingold said in his keynote address. The success of new media, grassroots politicking, like the online fundraising and outreach in 2006 and 2008, have “terrified” the corporate powers, he said. But what the people of the United States took away from the deep-pocket Republican donors like the Koch brothers, the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, restored in spades. Feingold called it a “lawless decision.”

It was a decision that took power away from the American people. The “people know that Republicans are not on their side,” Dean told the group. “The American people know the Tea Party is not on their side.”

The ultra-conservative movement from the Right doesn’t have American values, according to Dean. “Neither,” he said, “is intolerance and hate the way to build a great nation.”

But here’s where the battle comes in. Stinging from the enormous defeat in 2010, Democrats, according to Feingold, established their own Super PACs this spring – a couple of them. If we go down that road, though, Feingold, who has his own progressive PAC, warned, “It’s dancing with the devil.”

That makes the stickers that many of the conference attendees were wearing, Thursday, very appropriate, especially if the Super PAC wins. They were round, red stickers that read, “I’m going to Hell.” Luckily, though, for now, Hell is just a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. And I, for one, for now, have yet to abandon Hope.




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