September 28, 2009


Majority Report: Some liberals think Democrats should purge their more conservative members, but do they want to be in the minority? (Eleanor Clift, Sep 25, 2009, Newsweek)

Liberals are in no mood to give moderate Democrats a pass. Indeed, liberals sound a lot like Republicans did when Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter switched parties—good riddance, and don't let the door hit you on the way out. Imagine how much nicer life would be without all these apostates blocking reform. Purge the caucus, as many on the left would like to see, and there goes the majority. The price of acquired power for the Democrats is more conservatives on their side of the aisle and fewer liberal Republicans to offset the influx. Republicans are a lot more unified now, having purged their ranks of the more sensible members; they're also a minority party.

Obama has to deal with the Congress he has, not the one that liberals wish he had. The irony is that all those red-state lawmakers giving Obama fits are a result of a strategy set in motion by Rahm Emanuel, who as White House chief of staff now must search for a consensus that can keep enough of them together to pass Obama's agenda. Emanuel recruited candidates best suited for their district and state, which means they won, but they are not reliable votes for Obama.

The challenge for Democrats is whether they can turn their arithmetical majority into a governing majority, says Bill Galston, a veteran of the Clinton health-care fight who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a center-left think tank. Calling it "a test of liberal maturity," he points out that it's the minority of the majority—the newer,more conservative members—who make the Democrats a majority. "The simple fact that in the House liberals outnumber conservatives three to one doesn't mean they get three quarters of what they want," says Galston.

Especially when that's just within the Party.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 28, 2009 6:01 AM
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