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March 11, 2005


It's time to decide who really is a Democrat and jettison those who don't stand up for the progressive values of Democrats. In addition to the DLC it would appear that we now have a list of senators and house members who don't.

The problem with this idea is that it relies upon the ability of the DNC to enforce a "brand" - to make the DLC stop using the word "Democratic" if the DNC doesn't like it.

That's just not happening, for the same reason the GOP can't really shut down "GOPUSA" or "Republicans for Kerry" or any other non-sactioned (or "non-wink-wink-sanctioned") group: the words "republican" and "democratic" are plain adjectives that had meaning long before the parties came into existence.

Even President Bush himself claims to be promoting a "democratic" form of government - should the DNC sue to stop him from saying that?

(Well, yeah, ignore whether current US foreign policy actually promotes "democracy" or not - think of the 12 years of talk radio fun on "The DNC tried to hijack the word 'democratic' from rational use.")

If you can't stop the DLC from using the D, the best you can do is make it clear they don't speak for the DNC. I do admit it might be fun to start the "Republican Leadership Council" to constantly go on TV and urge Republican office-holders to stop being tools of corporate masters and trying to impose theocracy on the land - i.e., "playing to the GOP base" - and see what happens.

"How many non-offically sanctioned organizations out there use the word "Democrat" or "Democratic" in their names? And why do we permit this?"

I propose prohibiting you from using the word "Democratic" in describing yourself, Kagro X, as I think many of the things you propose are not in the best interests of the Party.

That'd be a hell of a proposal, Petey, if it had any substance. Fortunately for me, I don't actually use the word "Democratic" to describe myself.

I'm a Democrat. But I don't promulgate policy under that banner, nor do I solicit funds under it. And if I talked to the papers about my policy ideas, I wouldn't be identified as "Democrats for Kagro X's Policy Initiatives," either.

Matt, you also make a valid point. We may not be able to legally stop the DLC from using the name they've chosen, but a resolution of the DNC making it clear that such practices were frowned upon, or even officially discouraged, immediately puts non-compliant organizations on an outlaw's footing. "Not only don't they speak for the Democratic Party," the DNC would now be able to say, "but they're not even in compliance with our Charter and Bylaws."

That's a pretty powerful statement of disownership.

i sort of hate patent and brands when they don't represent anything. Democrats is a word, that one can use in multiple ways, meanings. That's vocabulary. Let's have it at the disposal of everyone.

The word "Democrats" will remain at everyone's disposal, as in, "We think Democrats ought to do that."

What ought not to be available to just any comer is the ability to imply, without making a specific and provable claim, that "We speak for the Democratic Party of the United States."

That is a privilege the Charter says the Party properly reserves for itself.

You can say whatever you like, and use any words you like to do it. But you shouldn't be able to imply with your name that you = Democrats. Unless it's demonstrably true, i.e., unless the Democratic Party has lent you its approval for doing so.

This theory, by the way, could easily allow for naming your group "Members of the Democratic Party for Internal Reform," or "Members of the Democratic Party for Slavish Devotion to the Financial Services Industry," if we feel the need. Those names at least denote separation from the official Party. It might even be feasible to establish an open and appealable internal Party process for petitioning for the use of the word "Democrat" in the name of an outside organization. But it shouldn't be open to just anyone to run around saying that they speak for Democrats. There's enough confusion that we can't do anything about as it is: "Clear Skies," "Healthy Forests," Talon "News," "Family Values."

a resolution of the DNC making it clear that such practices were frowned upon, or even officially discouraged, immediately puts non-compliant organizations on an outlaw's footing.

While I appreciate the sentiment and also wish the DLC should change its name (I suggest "Nonaligned Discussion Group" - catchy), this suggestion if implemented would have huge negative consequences. The party would be seen as trying to control the speech of Democrats who want to form groups.

Do you think so? I think that's a stretch. The Party could by no means exercise control over the substance of any group's speech. Only over their ability to claim to speak for the Democratic Party, which they don't, and shouldn't be permitted to claim.

I'd be perfectly willing to ride out that flap. Who's going to protest, and what will their argument be? "We reserve the right to dilute the Democratic message?"

Loser of an issue, if you ask me.

So what about Progressive Democrats of America? Or various local groups like Progressive Democrats of Somerville here in MA?

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