Originally posted by ShawnJ
But what do you think about that exchange between Foner, Piven, and Nader? They talk about how left-wing groups are now merely deferring to the party rather than exerting pressure on it. So you're right to an extent-- they are partisan in that sense. But there's also a sort of "natural" affiliation between progressive groups and the party. So perhaps partisanship hasn't changed much-- rather, the roles of left wing groups within the party have changed.
It has moved beyond deferring to the party on some matters. If they were truly pursuing the issues they claim at this point, they would attempt to hold the party responsible, or at a minimum pretend to shop around their votes or endorsements in an attempt to get concessions from the party on the matters they claim to represent.
I'm sure you are aware of the winner take all process that forges consensus within not only the government, but also the party platforms and the issues they each deal with. For example neither party is 100% pro-life or choice. They are probably 65-70% so. There is another 30%+ that hold the opposite view, but cannot force it on to the party. However the point is that they should be able to find representation in groups like this, but now they cannot because the groups are purely partisan.
Nader for example has mentioned the large number of people with progressive views who are tossed out of the Democratic party because they are either pro-life or pro-gun. But the NRA or NARAL will take them and their views regardless of party.
Take homosexual marriage. I would bet that the Democratic party has about 40-45% support for marriage while the Republican party has say 20-25%. Any group that would toss away the 20-25% of Republicans is not truly serving it's cause.
That is what has happened with these groups. They have tossed away blocks of people in order to pursue partisanship above their issues at that point. Regardless of the percentages or their previous natural affiliations, this is what they do now.