May 20, 2005


Exile-Loving Democrats: The Democratic Party is starting to enjoy its wilderness years. (Timothy Noah, May 17, 2005, Slate)

Something is stirring among Democrats, and I don't like it. They're starting to enjoy their minority status.

I don't dispute that some sort of adjustment had to be made. Since 1995, when Democrats lost control of the House for the first time in more than 40 years, congressional Democrats have had to reconcile themselves to their minority status. Something similar has happened in the Senate, which since 1995 (excepting a brief interruption from 2001 to 2003) has also been controlled by the GOP. The Democrats' presidential wing made a parallel accommodation after 1969, at the start of the current era of Republican presidential dominance (interrupted only by Jimmy Carter's one term and Bill Clinton's two). In all three instances, Democrats have had to get used to the idea that they are not the majority party in America—at least as tallied in the somewhat nonrepresentative Electoral College and U.S. Senate and in the heavily gerrymandered House.

But lately, it seems to me, Democrats have done a little more than reconcile themselves or get used to minority status. They've started to groove on it. [...]

What's shocking about this new Democratic enthusiasm for retreat is that it is being expressed not on narrow special-interest issues, but on broad issues affecting the entire Democratic constituency: regaining a Senate majority, redistributing Social Security benefits, democratizing Senate procedures.

It's not easy to be denser than Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, but unlike Mr. Noah they can count votes. Democrats are a permanent minority--mat as well enjoy their rump status.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 20, 2005 2:47 PM

"Lie back and enjoy it"...

C'mon...that should be worth a book or something...

Posted by: Foos at May 20, 2005 2:52 PM

"it is being expressed not on narrow special-interest issues, but on broad issues affecting the entire Democratic constituency"

I'm a little confused by the 'but' in this statement--does Mr. Noah deny that the 'entire Democratic constituency' is simply a collection of 'narrow special-interest' groups? Granted, the Republicans are such a cobbled together entity as well, but the Republican (majority) coalition dates to the 80s and 90s, while the Dems is from the 60s, and they refuse to change their views from those formed in that culturally anomalous time. Hence their minority status.

Posted by: b at May 20, 2005 3:03 PM

Democrats are a permanent minority

Ah, hubris, how sweet thy taste...

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at May 20, 2005 3:25 PM

they enjoy the rump too much

Posted by: cjm at May 20, 2005 4:26 PM

Remember, Michael: Stasis, it's the natural order.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 20, 2005 5:19 PM

Democrats are a permanent minority

Until such time, if ever, as they abandon socialism and anti-Americanism.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at May 20, 2005 5:27 PM

And after Stasis...max entropy!

Posted by: Luciferous at May 20, 2005 6:08 PM

The Dems need to hire as consultants Jerry Ford and Robert Michaels (Ford's successor as minority leader) for some advice on how, and best to enjoy their Permanent Minority Status and make the most of it.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at May 20, 2005 6:24 PM

Tex Antoine? I haven't heard that name in decades.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at May 20, 2005 6:57 PM

Actually, Tex's little joke probably changed the course of world events -- when it was used in 1990 by Midland oilman Clayton Williams while running for governor. He made the joke while giving the press a tour of his ranch, and that turned the momentum in the gubernatorial race and allowed Ann Richards to win election. Had Claytie won, the other Midland oilman never would have run for governor in 1994.

(There must be something about guys from Texas and that joke that just don't mix well, though for all I know, Antione may have gotten the thing from Uncle Weatherbee...)

Posted by: John at May 20, 2005 7:15 PM
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