DINOs Are Not Extinct

Image: Wikimedia Commons

A DINO is not a dinosaur. A DINO is a Democrat In Name Only — those who align themselves with the political left in name but, at key voting times, leave some of us wishing that they, too, were extinct. That stated, the announcement by Senator Ben Nelson, ‘Democrat’ from Nebraska, that he will not seek re-election next term may turn into an example of liberals and progressives seeing that we should be careful of what we wish for.

Nelson isn’t someone progressives could count on; as one example, he helped do away with the single payer option in the healthcare reform debates and he supported the final bill only when he was able to ensure that Nebraska would be exempt from paying for expanded Medicaid coverage. But with his decision to not seek re-election comes a dose of reality: Nelson’s decision to depart pushes TeaPublicans Republicans closer to control of the Senate with that thought I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. Republicans need a net gain of four seats in order to become the majority.

Would it be such a bad thing if the GOP becomes the majority player in the Senate?  Well, no — that is, if you don’t mind a distracting daily clown show that would result in the nation being jettisoned to the past. Not those “good ol’ days” but just the past. Regression at its worst. If you don’t mind reliving the days of no worker protections, women having no say in the matter of what to do with their own bodies, voter suppression, and no real middle class then the choice is very clear. This isn’t alarmist thinking: the House GOP has done everything within their power to further the agenda of large corporations and protect the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans (despite seeing evidence of how costly those cuts are to the nation’s budget) while simultaneously blocking the payroll tax cut that helps middle-class families. The attack on women’s rights has been ramped up to levels not seen in recent history. Budget allocations for education and science are in jeopardy — all that book learnin’ is apparently not necessary for the nation’s children and it’s future employees and leaders. And, after all their bleating talk about prospective corruption at the ballot, they’ve introduced more legislation to make it difficult for citizens to vote — of course, in communities in which the votes would most likely not go towards the GOP.

So what’s next?  At this point no Democrat or progressive has stepped forward to say that s/he will run for Nelson’s soon to be vacated seat — and, unfortunately, cloning my progressive girl crush the future Senator of Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, isn’t an option Oh, advanced science, if ever there were a time and need for that option!. Assuming President Obama is re-elected and with the GOP’s parade of clowns on display, I’m hoping sanity prevails and voters turn out in droves to support the only adult in the room are liberals/progressives prepared for four more years of gridlock and obstruction if the Senate falls into the clutches of a Republican majority? *Shudder*.  I’m not. So an active game plan is needed to ensure we do all within our power to elect progressives to keep the tide of backwards crazies and regressives extremist right-wingers at bay.

Progressives are needed…because DINOs are not extinct and it’s not too late to rebuild the American dream.


  1. Ben Nelson was definitely a guy that made you pull your hair out at times but when push came to shove, he did vote with the party over 80% of the time. Personally, I’m going to miss him and his vote.

    • Brooklyn Dame says

      I just had this conversation with a buddy about how realistic we liberals/progressives need to be. It’s unfortunate, in my opinion, that the country has done what often happens during times of economic strife: let fear rule and then move further to the wrong, I mean, the right. That means, whether we like it or not, sometimes we have to compromise (and take those 80% votes) rather than taking a chance that we’ll lose a Dem seat to a Republican with an extreme right agenda. The old ‘half a loaf’ theory in action.

  2. Nelson didn’t do away with the single payer option — there weren’t more then 15 votes for any type of single payer system in the Senate. Do you mean public option? The public option disappeared because it was the only thing Democrats put on the table to trade away — every other measure was fundamental to the reform effort. And the Medicaid funding for Nebraska was taken out before the final vote, namely due to backlash.

    The dysfunction in our political system is the direct result of the radicalization of our elected officials. Pushing moderates like Nelson out will only further harm the ‘liberal way’. Progress is only possible in a Democracy in incremental steps — history tells us this — like it or not the status quo is easier to argue for than radical (not as in ideological radical but as in much, much different) reforms. The plan you’re looking for is moderate, incremental reforms — it’s the only plan with a proven track record.

    I am all for Warren (in fact, I am hosting a phone bank for her next week) but I recognize replacing Brown (a moderate) with Warren will not make our government more functional — in fact it makes it even harder to gain enough votes in the Senate to pass anything. Neither party has strong enough hold on the electorate to gain 60 ‘purists’ — as such having 10-15 moderates in the Senate is a must to effectively govern.

    So-called liberals forget the foundation of a progressive society is pluralism — calling for a litmus test and ideological purity is in direct contradiction with that foundation.

    • Brooklyn Dame says

      Funny…when I talk to a lot of liberals, they don’t consider Nelson a “moderate”. I say that while it can be frustrating when we feel like our agenda has been stepped on by the extreme right we should remember that if we want to be thought of as an alternative to what we consider extremism on the right WE should be the group that has the ‘big tent’ of inclusion. Purists often end up making the entire political process dysfunctional because of strict adherence to ideology — and that causes gridlock even on the most trivial of matters.

      I agree; progress is incremental — it takes time. I’m glad you’re supporting (my girl crush) Elizabeth Warren to extend the voices of reason who hold positions of power!

      Thanks for commenting, Dave. We hope to see you here more often!

      • You make an interesting point BD. Even though he is still deified, the truth is Ronald Reagan would be too moderate in today’s political climate. I posted a video on my Facebook page of Reagan and Obama mirroring each other in a speech about how the rich shouldn’t get an unfair advantage. They would throw Reagan under the “class warfare” bus today.

        • Brooklyn Dame says

          I chuckle at the very thought of Republicans gnawing at each other and eating their own young. However, I simultaneously shudder when I think that the guy who started us on a downward trend of deregulation and a widening gap between rich and poor would be considered too moderate to run in today’s GOP. Reagan was interesting; he talked about how unions should have the right to collectively bargain — and then he tossed the air traffic controllers out on their collective arses. Even with that behviour, he’d STILL be considered too moderate. Go figure. *Yikes*

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  4. Brooklyn Dame says

    If we’re looking at things collectively then, yes, we now have the government we deserve. *Shudder* Why do I say that? Because those of us on the left who wanted everything to change minutes after inauguration day decided to ‘punish’ the POTUS by staying home during the mid-term elections. That allowed the infamous “shellacking” to take place and, as a result, more obstruction from the TeaPublicans. I won’t begin to act as though I’ve been happy with everything that has happened but I also know it could be much worse. And it will get worse if those of us who don’t live in Bizarro World sit on our collective arses, wringing our hands as we complain, but do nothing.

    Thanks for commenting, Nicke!


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