Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Which party represents the big tent?

The debate now among the talking heads is “what is the meaning of the 2006 Midterm Elections.” Remarkably, many conservatives are in denial that there was any repudiation of their narrow ideology and any question about the competence and honesty of their chosen leaders. Some have gone, as far to as claim that the election just produced a different kind of conservative majority. This is simply delusional. Yes, the Democrats did elect moderates like Webb in Virginia and Tester in Montana but conservatives seem to deliberately overlook the fact that there is only one-big-tent party in the U.S. presently and that is the Democratic Party. Just ask Lincoln Chafee how welcome he is in the Republican Party. Republicans have abandoned moderates so moderates have abandoned them.

The Democratic leadership in Congress certainly has its job cut out for it and this will in no small way be a juggling act of sorts. But leadership is always a juggling act and those who seem surprised by this are simply ignorant of history.

E.J. Dionne has some thoughts about the election in today’s Washington Post:
Some Republicans, including President Bush's political architect Karl Rove, are trying to say that Tuesday's vote was no big deal. Democratic gains were at or below the incumbent party's usual losses in the sixth year of a presidency, and, anyway, many of the Democrats elected this year are "conservative.''

Republicans believe this spin at their peril.

Many who play down the Democratic gains are the very same people who said six months ago that the Democrats had no chance of winning either the House or Senate. Incumbent-friendly congressional boundaries and the fact that many of the House and Senate seats Democrats needed to win were in previously pro-Bush areas meant Democrats needed a big and unlikely surge.

The surge happened. Votes are still being tallied, but it appears that the Democrats emerged with at least as large a margin in the popular vote in House races this year as Bush enjoyed in winning two years ago. If Rove could claim that Bush's narrow majority was part of a "rolling realignment'' to the Republicans, why is a comparable majority the other way insignificant? Democrats, by the way, also have an estimated 11 percent lead in the vote totals for Senate races and a 7 percent lead in governors' contests.

The notion that this election produced a different kind of "conservative'' majority is simply wrong. Yes, Democrats won in part by nominating moderate candidates in moderate areas. But every newly elected Democratic was, by any fair reckoning, somewhere to the left of the vanquished Republican, especially on Iraq and economic issues.

Moreover, Tuesday sent to Congress a pack of unapologetic progressives, including Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Senate, and such new House members as John Yarmuth of Kentucky, Carol Shea-Porter in New Hampshire and Dave Loebsack in Iowa, among many others.

Some Republicans say that Sen. Joe Lieberman's re-election as an independent suggests that rejection of Bush's Iraq policies was not, to use Rove's word, the "determining'' factor in the election. But exit polls make clear that Lieberman won despite his support for the war, not because of it.

… Moderates were, indeed, central to the Democrats' triumph because Republicans vacated the political center. But these are angry moderates. Many are unhappy about Iraq, less on ideological grounds than because the Bush policy is such an obvious failure. The new Democratic voters are a mix of social conservatives (especially in the South and parts of the Midwest such as Indiana) and social libertarians (especially in the West). Many (especially in the Midwest) are angry about the flight of manufacturing jobs overseas.

Holding this coalition together will require subtlety and an acknowledgement that the comfortable old battles of the 1980s and '90s are irrelevant to 2006 and 2008. The old arrangements are dead, a truth both parties need to recognize.
You can read the entire article here.


Early Riser said...

Just ask Joe Lieberman about the Democrat's 'big tent'.

mahdi said...

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Anonymous said...

Is this effen awesome website or what? Only for a-list party? Or corporate pimp event?

Bill Baar said...

The election was a big deal. It was a vote of no confidence in Bush, and a vote that notched both parties to the right a bit. Driving out the last of the Liberal Republicans and adding blue dog Democrats.