The Political Chicken-Egg Problem

In recent years, many fellow Democrats have opposed certain Democratic Congress members for not voting liberally enough. I have replied that the best way to get Democrats to move to the left is to give them a solid majority in Congress and solid wins in their districts.

My reasoning was that the Republicans had become more partisan as they gained power.

My reasoning is opposed by people like Thomas Frank (What's the Matter with Kansas?) who believe that partisanship preceeds and is necessary for power.

A Washington Post analysis of partisan voting in Congress seems to confirm my claim. It shows that under the new Democratic majority, Congressional Democrats have become more partisan while Republicans have become less so. (I laugh happily every time Norm Coleman does something moderate, now that Al Franken is breathing down his neck.)

This article seems to confirm my claim. Notice, for example, that David Price, whose district is safe, is up at the top of the partisanship list (go David!).

Here at BlueNC, there have been recent complaints about Heath Shuler's votes on Iraq.

I believe - and I think the WAPO study confirms - that helping Shuler get a more solid majority in his district would be the best way to get him to vote in a more liberal manner.

I suppose that this will be the eternal chicken-egg question of politics: which comes first, principles or power?

Comments

Good morning, George.

I am often troubled by the "tyranny of OR" which suggests that certain either-or situations represent false choices. It seems to me that we are and should be pushing on both fronts. Working hard to get more Dems registered and voting, while also pushing Heath to a more moderate, if not slightly progressive position.

Interesting, But What About

The idea that, when one's Party has a larger majority, one can represent one's district more liberally/conservatively seems strange. The districts and constituents don't change, but the amount of candidates' chutzpah does?

This would suggest that what's missing is courage, and that courage rises in proportion to the representative's majority.

I'm more interested in seeing our current representatives show courage for principle's sake, but I understand that many of them need political cover because they are, in the end, frightened of being called names and losing reelection.

It's another commentary on the sad, sad state of our fear-based, detached from reality political system. Heath Shuler ought to be voting his conscience and/or the will of his constituents. Instead, he's following Rahm Emmanuel's stupid-as-hell Iraq playbook while kowtowing to the lowest common denominator on issues of sexuality, science, and immigration.

Fortunately for folks in the district, he's aiding small business and making good energy and environment/conservation moves and votes. It'd be super if Dems had more of a majority - if that meant Shuler would get loose and make some sense regarding science, human rights, and Iraq.

However, I think we've got what we've got re: Shuler. I don't expect a more liberal version to roll off the line anytime soon.

Scrutiny Hooligans - http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us

Courage rises in proportion to the representative's majority

Screwy Hoolie says that the WAPO article I cited "would suggest that what's missing is courage, and that courage rises in proportion to the representative's majority."

Like my hero Screwy, I appreciate "courage for principle's sake". But turn the question around for a second and look at it this way:

Does it really matter to you if the Republican Party's fascism is the result of "courage" or a majority (and the wingnuts who vote in primaries)? I care, but I'll still feel safer with a Norm Coleman who's started making sense or a Liddy Dole who opposes the OLF: I'll take that even if it isn't the result of "courage" on their parts.

Contrarywise, as Alice said, I'm happier with Democrats who vote the way I like. (I really make no claims to know that the "majority" actually wants.) I'm happier if it feels like courage or principle, but in the end, I'm past expecting perfection.

-- ge

Besta é tu se você não viver nesse mundo
http://george.entenman.name

Besta é tu se você não viver nesse mundo
https://george.entenman.name