2010/11/04

The 2010 Mid-terms: Is there a silver lining?

One would think that if progressives being too progressive was the problem with the Democratic Party, then the "fiscally conservative" Blue Dog Democrats would have done better than progressives. They didn't. Blue Dogs got absolutely hammered at the polls.

As far as The Democratic Party is concerned, there actually is a silver lining to the 2010 mid-term election. In 2006, Senator Joe Lieberman was a Democrat from Connecticut and not just some meaningless Joe Schmuckatelli, he was very recently (2004) the Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate. So when Lieberman stepped all over Democratic messaging:

Lieberman claims to be a staunch supporter of affirmative action, when in fact he has always added the caveat, "but I oppose quotas"
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Lieberman is also the strongest Democratic supporter of faith-based bribery in the Senate.

Democrats found that the Republican retort of "But Joe Lieberman, a Democrat in good standing, says..." was very difficult to refute or ignore. The inclusion of Lieberman in the Democratic Party did Democrats far more harm than good, so Democrats were well rid of him (Ned Lamont won the Democratic primary, but lost the general election, so Lieberman is still a Senator, but as an Independent).

Lieberman was a "Blue Dog Democrat," a group that was strongly favored by the President's former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel and is favored today by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Their message of "fiscal discipline" was one that was problematic for Democrats in the best of times, but during an economic crisis like the present one, is downright destructive. The identification of Democrats as free spenders compared to the Republicans as being tight with a dollar is one that is challenged by the Republican desire to keep the younger George Bush's tax cuts going for those making over $250,000 annually, but has been a reasonably good shorthand description of how Democrats manage the economy versus how Republicans manage it.

So the good news from the mid-term election of 2010? The Blue Dogs took it on the chin! Blue Dog losses far outnumbered Progressive losses.

23 of the 46 Blue Dogs up for re-election went down on Tuesday.
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Half of the Blue Dog incumbents were defeated, and by themselves accounted for close to half of the Democratic losses. [emphasis in original]
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the worst possible choice Democrats can make is to run as GOP-replicating corporatists devoted above all else to serving corporate interests in order to perpetuate their own power: what Washington calls "centrists" and "conservative Democrats." That is who bore the bulk of the brunt of last night's Democratic bloodbath -- not liberals.

One thing I'm very cheerful about is that Blue Dogs who ran against the Speaker of the House fared particularly poorly. And obviously, if the "Cat Food Commission" takes a meat-ax to Social Security as progressives suspect they will, the Blue Dogs will be playing a major role in lending the credibility of the Democratic Party to such a destructive project. That's why it's particularly important to diminish the role of Blue Dogs immediately and not to approach that project in a casual manner.

Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) may have lost his seat, he was a particularly energetic progressive who caused many members of the traditional press corps to grab at their hearts and retire to the fainting couch, but the Democratic next-door-neighbor of Grayson lost too.

Regarding Grayson,well we have a little controlled experiment. His neighboring first term Democratic congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas, in a very similar district, took the opposite approach to Grayson. She ran as hard to the right as she could get away with, never had a controversial thought much less uttered one, was rewarded with big money and support from the DCCC --- and she lost too. This race was bigger than both of them. Florida is turning hard right.

So it's far from clear that Grayson's aggressiveness and ill manners explain much of anything.

So the lesson on how progressives should proceed seems pretty obvious to me. Get rid of the danged Blue Dogs even if it means losing the Democratic majority. Let Democrats earn majority status the hard way, by campaigning as unapologetic progressives who have no problems with the label of being free spenders and who oppose unnecessary wars and racial hatred (Both against American minorities at home and Muslims overseas) and excessive corporate power just because, well, just because that stuff is wrong.

Let Democrats stop making excuses for being Democrats!

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