If it doesn't vote like a Democrat, it's not a Democrat by mattsteinglass
March 1, 2010, 8:45 am
Filed under: Health care reform

Someone at Ezra Klein’s site wrote something smart in a thread and he turned it into a post:

I was looking today at the list of Democrats who voted “no” on health-care the first time around. What struck me was how many of them were heavily supported by the DCCC in 2008. Shouldn’t that kind of financial backing, a considerable part of which comes from center-left national Democratic party supporters, not go to members who simply do not support the Democrats on any of the big stuff? I mean, if you added up all the money from the DCCC given to some of the folks on that list, it’s definitely in the couple of millions. I don’t think these guys should be getting national Democratic Party funding if they are going to act like free agents all the time.

At some point, if you take the support of the base, you have to be accountable to the base.

Absolutely right. The Democratic Party should provide no financial support whatsoever to anyone who calls themselves a Democrat but votes against this health-care reform bill. I don’t care what the reason is. I don’t care whether you’re Bart Stupak voting against it because you’re a fanatical pro-lifer, or a far-left progressive voting against it because you got left behind on a desert island and nobody told you the war for single-payer was over.

You know how Bart Stupak appears outraged at the idea that some dollars that once passed through the bank account of a Catholic person might eventually go towards paying for an abortion? I’m outraged at the idea that some of the dollars I donate to the Democratic Party might go towards paying to re-elect Bart Stupak. And if health care doesn’t pass, in part because of people like him, then I’ll donate no money this year to the Democratic Party. I’ll donate to my representatives or to others who share my views. Not to the party.


17 Comments so far
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And so we see the dawn of the DINO.

Comment by citifieddoug

It’s not really an apt parallel, though.

Comment by Matt Steinglass

No, of course not. Apostate Democrats are the enemies of virtue like orthodox Republicans.

Comment by citifieddoug

No, that’s not the reason why it’s not apt. It’s not apt because of the very different relationships the two parties currently have to 1. sets of core convictions and 2. the fealty generally demanded by the base. The Republican Party stands very effectively for a set of core convictions which anyone literate in American politics can rattle off in two seconds. And it has delivered quite effectively on many of those commitments while in power. The Democratic Party stands for…? You tell me. I warn you in advance that any core commitment of the Party you can name will be a thing which the Party has proven unable, in power, to deliver, and that it has been defeated in its attempts to deliver those commitments by moderate Democrats.

You can’t just reverse the polarity and come up with a valid analysis. The two parties are in structurally different situations as regards their relationship to their bases.

Comment by Matt Steinglass

You’re right and I concede the point. Although, as someone who shares the Republican values that government should be limited by both the constitution and practicality, results-driven in its governance and a follower rather than a leader in cultural affairs, I might contend that the GOP is worse than ineffective when it comes to core values and only effective for associated interests,

But since you’ve knocked me off my wisecrackery, I was thinking maybe I should have just said that I agree about how to donate politically. It’s a little pat for me because I never have affiliated with a party, but I do think if you have a set of policies you want to support you’re much better off donating to a candidate of like mind than to a party.

Comment by citifieddoug

Fair point about not delivering on limited gov’t in some areas, but it’s sure kept the taxes down. And it has removed a lot of regulation of business.

In terms of the constitutional limits, there’s an internal tension between being a fan of limits on gov’t power and being a fan of the military and law-and-order (in the police/corrections sense). At least some of the failure to deliver on small gov’t is a problem of conflicting goals. I think the Democrats suffer less from conflicting goals than from conflicts between goals and the interests of a plethora of groups and industries to be bought off.

Comment by Matt Steinglass

The Democratic Party is center-right. Actual liberals should donate to actual liberals, not to the DCCC. And via Act Blue et al. they’ve been able to for several election cycles now.

Comment by Alex Chaffee

Couldn’t agree more, Matt. I don’t see the point of supporting people who claim to represent the democratic platform when their true goal is perpetual re-election.

Comment by scottchaffee

Matt, I don’t mean to keep you stuck on this post, but selective deregulation seems like a big government strategy to me, not a small government strategy in that it still produces political dependence and undermines the stable and robust legal environment that I would put at the heart of an unconflicted conservatism.

Comment by citifieddoug

Interesting. It may depend who’s doing the deregulating. Having political commissars interfere in the business of government agencies to scrap a regulation here and there for a favored industry or company certainly seems like part of a big-government system. (First make everything illegal, then favor your friends with non-enforcement.) But staffing the federal courts with Federalist Society judges who will strike down regulations seems like it can’t really be used that way, barring some old-fashioned slipping of pots-de-vin under the table.

Comment by Matt Steinglass

I’m starting to think comment tracking was coded by bat-winged nerds under infernal supervision.

Comment by citifieddoug

What happened to listening to your constituents?

Comment by F. Paul Wilson

Try that some time.

Comment by citifieddoug

Well, I agree, though probably for different reasons. I’d like to see a situation like the Knesset in Israel. Something like 15 parties, no one of them larger than 27%.

I’d love to see it as Democrats, Republicans, Tea Party, Blue Dogs, and a host of others. Then let them form coalitions instead of thinking they every congressman has to fit into a square hole or round hole, Dem or Repub. What about triangles and stars?

Actually I find the one-party system disguised as two to have outlived its usefulness. They have a great thing right now. Independents have to choose a “side.” And both sides are bound and determined to keep the status quo.

Anyway, getting angry at Dems who vote how their constituents want them to is probably not very constructive.

Comment by cruss

“…a far-left progressive voting against it because you got left behind on a desert island and nobody told you the war for single-payer was over.”

Matt, I think it is important to get this right. There was no “war” for single-payer. There was no battle, no skirmish, no debate, no discussion, no nothing. They just told us it was “off the table” and that was it. Not really much of a war, was it?

When an idea is that scary, it must have some real power behind it.

Comment by mikenavarro

If it doesn’t think like a democrat, its a republican. And next time round they will win the Presidency regardless if its Palin or another republican running.

Comment by cliveshome

I’m sorry, Mr. Steinglass, could you provide some references for the statement that the Republican party has “kept tax rates down”?

I went to look that one up, and as usual, googles first suggestion was the Wikipedia, on “Income Tax in the United States”. Half-way down, “Hauser’s Law” – that Federal tax rates in the US are always about 19.5% of GDP. Only the *top marginal* tax rate paid by the $100,000+ crowd really has volatility.

If so, the Republican party can only claim victory at shifting tax burdens down from the upper-middle and upper classes down to the middle, not an overall reduction.

Also, I think shifts away from pay-as-you-go to keeping services up and taxes down through debt, isn’t really keeping anything DOWN, just stretching it out over time. Given the debt expansion during Reagan/Bush1, and during Bush2 (“deficits don’t matter”) I think that strategy is fully bipartisan.

Comment by rbrander

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