Accountability Now


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’s Glenn Greenwald will serve in advisory roles, while Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos will conduct polling, with analytical help from’s Nate Silver.

Because there’s nothing like a Washington based PAC to ruffle the feathers in Washington. And really, I think the netroots involvement is selling themselves short here. Clearly, Markos should do candidate outreach, Move On could run their candidates’ marketing efforts, and Hamsher can throw in some copy-editing help. What could possibly go wrong?

More seriously though, this is a really stupid venture. I know it’s sometimes hard to understand, but the United States has a really peculiar election system, and it’s something that’s very odd across the board. We’re not a parliamentary legislature, and even the more receptive chamber of Congress, the House, is somewhat skewed away from public opinion because of the nature of single district representation. More to the point, it’s skewed because districts are drawn up once a decade, and done so by partisan apportionment boards in the various states. So while it sounds counter-intuitive after an election where Democrats carried such sweeping victories nationally, a lot of these districts are still very marginal, if not slightly Republican leaning in general, because Republicans controlled the last round of redistricting in these areas. Looking at Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15), she represents most of Columbus, but the boundaries of the district largely overwhelm the urban core with the highly Republican Eastern suburbs, to the extent that Kilroy lost in 2006, and barely won in 2008. So if she exhibits “Blue Dog” characteristics, it says nothing about her own personal opinions, but rather that she’s trying to navigate a highly Republican district. Pursuing a primary challenge against her will do nothing positive for Democrats or progressives.

But moreover, the point is that these districts are only Republican leaning at the margins, and some minor tinkering could make them noticeably more progressive. And guess what; the last election before widespred redistricting is…2010! Which is what’s particularly absurd about this “Accountability Now” nonsense. If the people organizing it really do want to make Congress more progressive, they could raise money for Democrats at the state legislature level or in other state level races with an eye on the apportionment board in states where that can make a disproportionate difference. So the obvious thing to observe here is that either the people running this operation know very little about politics, or Hamsher is totally full of shit and it’s all about party purges. Given what you read from most of the people involved with the project, I’m going to go with a little of both.

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