With President Obama in office, some notable beneficiaries of the Democrats’ 50-state strategy have been antagonizing the party from within — causing legislative stalemate in Congress, especially in the Senate, and casting doubt on the long-term viability of a Democratic majority. As a result, the activists who were so inspired by Mr. Dean in 2006 and Mr. Obama in 2008 are now feeling buyer’s remorse.
Margaret Johnson, a former party chairwoman in Polk County, N.C., helped elect Representative Shuler but now believes the party would be better off without him. “I’d rather have a real Republican than a fake Democrat,” she said. “A real Republican motivates us to work. A fake Democrat de-motivates us.”
Ms. Johnson is right: Democrats would be in better shape, and would accomplish more, with a smaller and more ideologically cohesive caucus. It’s a sentiment that even Mr. Dean now echoes. “Having a big, open-tent Democratic Party is great, but not at the cost of getting nothing done,” he said. Since the passage of health care reform, few major bills have passed the Senate. Although the Democrats have a 59-vote majority, party leaders can barely find the votes for something as benign as extending unemployment benefits.
First off, what incentive do conservative Democratic senators have to work with the rest of the party? They know Harry Reid is never going to have the stones to push things through on reconciliation, because then Republicans will say that he is mean. They know he’s never going to make Republicans actually filibuster anything, as in stand there for 10 hours reading the phone book, because then Republicans would say that he is mean. They’re certainly not afraid of Obama calling them into the Oval Office and bitchslapping them, or endorsing challengers primary or otherwise, or taking their perks away, because they know Republicans would say Obama is mean.
So what incenctive do they have to come on board? I can’t blame them for acting the way they do. They have an advantage and they’re pressing it. Would that some of their ideological foes within their own party had those kind of nuts. The kind that would have Reid and Obama saying to whiny I’m-a-Democrat-but-not-really bitches that you’ll vote with us or we’ll help make you unemployed because we don’t need you fuckers stabbing us in the back when lots of people are lining up to stab us in the front. The kind that would have booted Joe Lieberman from the caucus two years ago. The kind that would have told Ben Nelson where to stick his pro-life credentials. The kind that would have told Blanche Lincoln where to be and when and what would happen if she failed to show up.
Instead of bashing Blue Dogs and their allies for having courage, why don’t we ask where the courage of actual Democrats is? Because they’renot displaying a whole shitload of a lot of it lately:
The run against the Democratic party thing didn’t workso well in 1994 and to the extent that it’s being used now (not nearly as much from what I see) it probably won’t work either. It’s something that can work for individual politicians, but if too much of the party is doing it then it’s completely self-destructive. We had a decade or more when a significant portion of the party could have been called Democrats against Democrats.
I was writing up this piece for Sirens yesterday afternoon and thinking about how well I remember the 90s. People, not to date myself but I was in high school for the early 90s, so we can’t exactly call my political instincts at the time especially advanced. Nevertheless, I did understand that deserting your suddenly-uncool friends in an effort to make the cool kids like you NEVER WORKS. Not only do the cool kids still hate you because you used to hang out with those losers, the losers now won’t talk to you, and people who don’t have a dog in the fight think you’re a totally gutless fucking asshole for turning on your pals like that.
It is actually the only way to make yourself universally unpopular, and yet they do it every goddamn time thinking it’ll work this once.