Increasingly, Progressives in the "netroots" are calling out manstream Ds that whore for the megacorps. The disruptive influence of this in the fastest growing and most active element of the Democratic Party continues to be underestimated by the MSM and traditional Democrats.
Ds accuse Rs of inventing "culture war" for their own purposes. Nonesense. A huge number of Ds have coasted for years by paying lip service to big ticket social issues like reproductive rights, chant about protecting "the middle class," then turn around and vote for a revamp of the bankruptcy laws that favors huge financial industries over applicants. (Paging Joe Biden! Credit Card Lobbyist on line 2!)
Similarly, the Ds continue to believe that they can use their "D cred" to lobby for large corporate interests without losing their "D cred" with party supporters. For example, former Clinton Press Secretary Mike McCurry last year rented himself out to the telcos and cable cos to oppose net neutrality. McCurry initially pretended he wasn't taking cable/telco money, then got all snotty with Mike Stoller at mydd for being called out for it. However folks in the progressive community felt about NN (most are for, but there are some techno-libertarian hold outs), this branded McCurry a grade A sellout and his credibility quotient in the netroots plummeted to zero.
Despite the flexing of the Netroots muscle in 2006 by denying Leiberman the D nomination and promoting other progressive challengers, the DLC wing of the party continues to think of this as a vocal minority that will fall into line behind the D candidate selected, just like they did in 2004 when Kerry defeated Dean. They do not seem to understand how the situation has changed. Not only has the "netroots" contingent grown in size and sophistication, it has grown in its own sense of power. Just as the conservative/Evangelical Christians considered themselves the key power brokers after 2004, the Netroots recognize themselves as critical to the Congressional wins in 2006. And, without a nemesis like George Bush to rally them to the D standard, the assumption that the Netroots will back whoever is running as better than the alternative is -- to me at least -- highly questionable.
Which brings us to the '08 race. As the teams around the candidates -- particularly the two front runners -- come together, they do not appear to consider how the decisions of these political operatives to sell themselves will impact them. After all, it has never been a significant factor before. But it has never before been so easy to spread this kind of information, nor has a segment of the electorate cared as deeply. Tell members of the Clinton/Gore "government in exile" now angling to position themselves beneath Hilary Clinton's banner that their work for Pharma on intellectual property issues or for cable companies on franchise reform makes them poison and potentially damaging to their chosen candidate and they look at you as if you are speaking Martian. Because, as far as they ever knew, no one cares about this stuff. It's not as if they went and worked for Haliburton, after all, and its not as if the electorate even has capacity to care about more than 2 or 3 issues tops.
Indeed, I will go so far as to say that for any individual case, they may be right. But collectively, it creates a real cloud. If progressive voters look at a candidate and see a collection of corporate flaks as the "inner circle", then it won't matter how much they promise to ban handguns so another VA Tech won't happen again or that they promise to bring the troops home on January 22. Because for the politically active progressives, that is not enough.