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DLC, Centrist Democratic Group, Closing Shop

4 years ago
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A death knell for the "sensible center"? Well, one big brand anyway. The Democratic Leadership Council, founded more than 25 years ago on the ashes of a crushing Democratic loss to Ronald Reagan, is closing its doors.

The DLC, sort of a rump caucus of Democratic Party moderates, was once an incubator for centrist, pro-business ideas. The goal of its founders was to pull the left-leaning party back into what they viewed as America's political mainstream. It reached its zenith in 1992 with the election of Bill Clinton, who had previously served as president of the DLC.

The organization faded during George W. Bush's White House years and continued to lose traction when the political left claimed much of the credit for Barack Obama's election. Had Hillary Clinton won the White House, there might have been a nook or cranny for the DLC somewhere on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The organization's demise was first reported by Politico, which said it was out of money and on the brink of a shutdown.

In a statement released to the National Journal, DLC founder Al From said Monday the departure of CEO Bruce Reed to become Vice President Biden's chief of staff had prompted the board of directors "to suspend operations while it considers what the next phase of the DLC will be." From isn't giving up yet. He said the DLC "has had an historic impact on American politics over the past 25 years. We're convinced that it will continue to have an impact in the future."

Reed, a co-founder, was a key figure in guiding President Obama's deficit reduction commission before signing on with Biden -- a move seen as a modest tilt toward the center for the Obama administration.

At its peak during the Clinton presidency, the DLC was credited with nudging the party toward polices embracing welfare reform and a balanced budget. It was a safe harbor for moderates like Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and former Sens. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.). Al Gore was among its early members.

The DLC was created in reaction to former Vice President Walter F. Mondale's 1984 landslide loss to Reagan, which some Democrats blamed in part on Mondale's adherence to old-left orthodoxy. Many liberals always disliked what they saw as DLC's center-right drift, and a donor base that drew heavily from business interests. The Rev. Jesse Jackson derided the DLC as the "Democratic Leisure Class."

A think tank once affiliated with the DLC, the Progressive Policy Institute, is still in business. And Al From, talking about a "next phase," hinted that the DLC itself could reemerge.

Folo Tom Diemer on Twitter

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Alessandro Machi

This is really a tragedy, in major part because nobody gets how tragic this really is. The media destroyed the DLC by glamorizing Barack Obama in 2008 while vilifying Hillary Clinton at every turn.

The DLC could not survive because MSNBC is a whack a noodle progressive democrat stronghold, and fox news is primarily for the republicans. Until a news station emerges that actually doesn't take sides, the DLC doesn't stand a chance. We desperately need a news station that just tells what is really going on, without leaning it either to the left or to the right, then and only then does the U.S. recover its greatness.

February 12 2011 at 8:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

don't care of the names of Parties far lefts and far rights...Rah! Rah !Sish Kum! Bah! Who ever can lower un-employment, improve economy and get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan will be the hero. Which none will be realized because everyone especially Obama are worried about the 2012 Election.

February 10 2011 at 12:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I guess ZXell Miller's dream dies with it...he apparently thought a conservative democrat could be elected and have some staying power. What has happened since novemeber is a number of conservative democrats have changed to the GOP.

February 08 2011 at 7:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to red's comment

That's news to me RED -- which Democrats have switches parties?

February 08 2011 at 8:09 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Time for the Democrats who are realy pro American to get out of what the left wing had created. I voted for the last REAL Democrat to run for president, Eugene McCarthy, who had to run independent because the wacky left put that moronic peanut farmer on the ticket

February 08 2011 at 7:23 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Carter's comment

Wow! Where did you learn history? McCarthy ran as in independent in 1976 because he was too far to the left for mainstream Democrats. He was considered too extreme even in 1968.

February 08 2011 at 10:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That's because the radicalization of republican/conservatives has forced a more extreme response.

February 08 2011 at 7:20 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jymwrite's comment

most so called Republicans would have been democrats 40 years ago. It has the left that has taken over a once great party

February 08 2011 at 7:25 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

Carter, you got it backward. Today's Democrats, especially President Obama, could have run as Republicans in 1968. It's the GOP that has moved so far to the right that it's forced its moderates to switch parties or leave politics altogether. Nixon, Rockefeller, Ford and Theodore Roosevelt couldn't find a place in the current Republican party.

February 08 2011 at 10:18 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

One of the things politics proves is that common sense is uncommon.

February 08 2011 at 7:20 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply


February 08 2011 at 7:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sensibility, concern for business success, and moderation have been increasingly unwelcome in the lurch to the left under Pelosi, Reid, and Obama. I find this both disturbing and sad.

February 08 2011 at 12:39 PM Report abuse +50 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to oldengineera2's comment

It's especially disturbing because of the continued extinction of centrist Republicans since 1980. Without moderates in Congress, nothing will get done. Only the right wing characterizes Obama as a liberal. He's about two percentage points to the left of Richard Nixon. Without Watergate, Nixon would be best remembered for opening relations with (horrors!) China, the draconian wage and price freeze of 1971 and Nixoncare (now called Obamacare). I hope both parties will come to their senses and recognize the most Americans don't care for extremism from either side.

February 08 2011 at 5:14 PM Report abuse -10 rate up rate down Reply

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