YDA, Tony Cani, and Matt Stoller

Thank-You-Gate has hit the progressive blogosphere full force today after Matt Stoller of Open Left ripped on Tony Cani and YDA for thanking Congressional Democrats.

There’s tremendous opportunity in the youth space.  College Democrats is growing strongly, and this generation is the most progressive generation alive today.  Even so, the Democracy Alliance reduced funding to youth groups probably because of the proof displayed here that there’s no coherent strategy behind YDA, although it’s not clear to me if YDA got dinged in the funding cut.  They should have been dinged.  This is exactly the kind of sycophantic behavior that should be stamped out of the political system.

This issue has since spread to MyDD and Future Majority. The original YDA blog post is here.

I commented on Open Left, and here is what I said:

I am having a hard time with the concept that it is a bad idea to let your members of Congress know when they are doing something right. We are so quick to jump on every mistake and bad vote, as we should, but we never seem to talk about the good things that are done.

YDA has a very specific mission, with issue advocacy goals of its own. One of their main issues is the cost of higher education. The College Cost Reduction Act was a big victory for students and YDA, and it made complete sense for Tony Cani to thank Congress for it. Should Congressional Democrats being doing more to end the war? Yes. Should we expect them to stand up for the issues we care about? Yes. However, we should also acknowledge that progress is being made on important issues, and many of those issues have a great importance to young Americans.

Matt’s reaction is the equivalent of someone refusing to send a thank you card because they only got one of the birthday presents they wanted.

On the accusation that Young Democrats are the lapdogs of the DNC, that just isn’t true. The College Democrats are part of the DNC and receive funding through it, YDA is an independent 527 that raises its own budget. YDA split with the DNC in part because it wanted to have the freedom to take on the party when it was at odds with the mission of YDA. We saw this last year when YDA fought the DNC on youth goals for the Democratic National Convention. Take a look at the YDA platform and you will see one of the most progressive documents coming from a party-affiliated organization.

The work YDA does is extremely important for the present and future of both the Democratic Party and the Progressive Movement. More youth participation and higher voting turnout will mean victories for progressive candidates and issues. So I am going to thank Tony Cani both for the work he has done for the Young Democrats and for sending that thank you e-mail. Someone needed to let our Representatives know when they have done something right.

So if you want to thank Congress for actually addressing youth issues and annoy Matt Stoller (which is always satisfying), go to http://www.yda.org/thankyou.