Jul 29 2008
Lots of factors led up to the defeat of the GOP in 2006. But one of the big drivers was a severe loss of support from the independents in the middle (not the independents who are closer to the fringes). Bush has governed as a moderate instead of a far right ideologue. And that irritated the “true” conservatives, who lashed out at Bush and other more centrist conservatives (like myself) over many issues. The mostÂ egregiousÂ was the Amnesty Hypochondriacs who went so far as to call moderates RINOs and Bush El Jorge Bustrada. It was embarrassing and repulsive – and the center swung to the Democrats in 2006.
Now the Democrats face a failed Congress and sport historic low approval ratings to boot. And in their anger the liberal leaders have come up with the same dumb idea the GOP far right did – attack the moderates who give them a governing coalition:
In American politics, exceedingly few positions generate overwhelming agreement across the ideological spectrum. Even propositions that ought to be uncontroversial — such as whether there is scientific evidence for evolution or whether Saddam Hussein personally planned the 9/11 attacks — produce sizable portions of the citizenry lined up on each side. One notable exception to this rule is the issue of whether the current U.S. Congress is doing a poor job. That question produces a remarkable consensus that is close to unanimous.
That a Democratic Congress is so deeply unpopular even among Democrats may be historically unusual, but it is hardly surprising or difficult to understand. On key issue after key issue, it is the Bush White House and Republican caucus that have received virtually everything they wanted from Congress, while the base of the Democratic Party has received virtually nothing other than disappointment and an overt repudiation of its agenda.
As proved by the 2006 midterm elections — which the Democrats dominated in a historically lopsided manner — mindlessly electing more Democrats to Congress will not improve anything. Such uncritical support for the party is actually likely to have the opposite effect.Â
At minimum, two steps are required to begin to influence Democratic leaders to change course: 1) Impose a real political price that they must pay when they capitulate to — or actively embrace — the right’s agenda and ignore the political values of their base, and 2) decrease the power and influence of the conservativeÂ “Blue Dog”contingent within the Democratic caucus, who have proved excessively willing to accommodate the excesses of the Bush administration, by selecting their members for defeat and removing them from office. And that means running progressive challengers against them in primaries, or targeting them with critical ads, even if doing so, in isolated cases, risks the loss of a Democratic seat in Congress.
Yep, those pesky allies who give the radicals the seats of power but who don’t toe the line are a real problem, need to boot them from the party so we can all be pure again. The silliness of this argument is only muted by the fact I have heard it all before from ‘true’ conservatives. Anyone left or right of the fringes is scum and need to be removed. Sadly for them it is us scum who decide which party gets a chance to govern and not screw it up too badly.
We all did well with Bush. Now we need to find a Congress that is humble to America’s desires AND diversity of opinion, not one that is brow-beating us for not following them like good little robots.Â