No more free lunch for incumbents. No more job security. No more helpless handwringing as you Blue Dogs and spineless gits and corporate bitches get drunk on your own power. There will now be consequences for your actions:
Some of the most prominent names in progressive politics launched a major new organization on Thursday dedicated to pinpointing and aiding primary challenges against incumbent Democrats who are viewed as acting against their constituents' interests.
Accountability Now PAC will officially be based in Washington D.C., though its influence is designed to be felt in congressional districts across the country. The group will adopt an aggressive approach to pushing the Democratic Party in a progressive direction; it will actively target, raise funds, poll and campaign for primary challengers to members who are either ethically or politically out-of-touch with their voters. The goal, officials with the organization say, is to start with 25 potential races and dwindle it down to eight or 10; ultimately spending hundreds of thousands on elections that usually wouldn't be touched.
It is a concept bound -- indeed, designed -- to ruffle the feathers of powerful figures in Washington, in part because the names behind it are now institutions themselves. With $500,000 currently in the bank, Accountability Now will be aided, in varying forms, by groups such as MoveOn, SEIU, Color of Change, Democracy for America, 21st Century Democrats and BlogPAC. FireDogLake's Jane Hamsher and Salon.com's Glenn Greenwald will serve in advisory roles, while Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos will conduct polling, with analytical help from 538.com's Nate Silver.
This has been in the works since that FISA fuckery in June. Remember that time? Our vaunted political rulers lined up with Bush and voted an appreciable chunk of our Constitution away. Strange Bedfellows arose out of our anger and disgust, and morphed into Accountability Now PAC. While we weren't able to defeat Blue Dogs Chris Carney and John Burrows, we surely gave them the shock of their young political lives. And you may have noticed that Steny Hoyer has all of a sudden discovered that it may be a good idea to sound like a Democrat again. All that, before the PAC was even fully functional.
2010's gonna be interesting, especially for Dems who don't serve their constituents' interests.
And, lest you think this is just a far-left witch hunt borrowing a page from the Cons, keep this in mind:
In a conversation with the Huffington Post, Hauser, Hamsher and Greenwald said that the process by which targeted incumbents were chosen would not constitute an ideological litmus test. The goal, they noted, was simply to follow the numbers: figure out which Members were casting votes that were out of tune, philosophically speaking, with their constituent's public opinion readings.
Granted, we'd love more progressives. But following the numbers means that it's truly the will of the people that decides. If that means we don't end up with an ultra-progressive challenger, so be it. Incumbents who aren't incurring their constituents' wrath likely have nothing to fear - much. Unless, of course, they pull another stunt like trying to immunize corporations for illegal spying, in which case I wouldn't count on polling data to save their hides.
And if they were planning to stand in the way of broadly popular initiatives, they're fucked:
By empowering the grassroots, Accountability Now will help create the political space needed to enable President Obama to make good on the many progressive policies he campaigned on - such as getting out of Iraq, ensuring access to affordable health care for every man, woman and child, restoring our constitutional liberties and ending torture.
In 2007, grassroots activists banded together to oust Al Wynn out of office, and it shook House Democrats to their core. Similarly, we learned in 2006 how even a primary challenge that does not win could change behavior, as Jane Harman has been more accountable to the concerns of her constituents after a tough primary race against Marcy Winograd.
It's going to be interesting to see how this impacts the Washington old-incumbents' club. As Accountability Now notes, "nothing focuses the mind of a politician on listening to citizens better than a primary."
Change is coming. About damned time.