Free Markets, Free People
It comes from the ever entertaining Ezra Klein, charter member of the juice-box mafia, and apparently not a history major:
I’ll just note that Democrats will definitely lose their supermajority sooner than later. If not, something is going seriously wrong in the system. A competitive, two-party democracy shouldn’t have long periods of single-party dominance. The mid-20th century, which did see Democrats with that sort of majority in the House, was the product of a three-party system in which a party of conservative, racist Southerners entered into a coalition with the Democrats. But that’s over now.
Apparently when Ezra attended history class, they’d come up with a new designation for the “third party” to explain the behavior of the Democratic party at the time – it was in a coalition with “a party of conservative, racist Southerners”.
Hmmm. Gotta tell you, around here we just called them Democrats.
Like Senator Al Gore Sr. of Tennessee, who filibustered the Civil Rights Act and gave us his apparently more famous son, Al “I invented the internet and global warming” Gore, Jr. Quite a legacy, no?
Like Senator William Fullbright of Arkansas who did the same thing Al’s daddy did and was Bill Clinton’s mentor to boot. And of course, Robert Byrd, admitted member of the KKK, was already representing Democrats in West Virginia at the time. Oh, wait – he’s still doing that, isn’t he? Byrd was also a participant in the filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, speaking for 14 hours and 13 minutes in an attempt to deny the bill passage. And today he remains a member in good standing of the Democratic party – not that “third party”.
The fact that these and other Southern Democratic luminaries of the time happened to be somewhat more conservative than their northern brethren doesn’t change the fact that they were lifelong, racist Democrats (btw, “conservative” does not equal “racist”. Racist equals racist). They simply made up the more conservative wing of the party and were very welcome there until about 1964 when things began to finally change. Most, such as Sen. James O. Eastland of Mississippi, Rep Howard W. Smith of Virginia, and Sen. Richard Russell of Georgia (a mentor of Jimmy Carter) were and remained life-long Democrats. Others, such as George Wallace, Lester Maddox, and T Coleman Andrews eventually became independents. But that was well after this so-called “third party” coalition you claim, Ezra.
Heh … you do know that the GOP did exist in the South at the time, don’t you? Yup, you guessed it – we called them Republicans. There weren’t many. 1 in the Senate and 10 in the House. And yes, they did the same thing the Democrats from the area did – voted against the bill. But the filibuster? All Democrat. And what’s interesting is to see the final totals on the bill by party. You know the myth – here’s the reality:
The original House version:
* Democratic Party: 152-96 (61%-39%)
* Republican Party: 138-34 (80%-20%)
Cloture in the Senate:
* Democratic Party: 44-23 (66%-34%)
* Republican Party: 27-6 (82%-18%)
The Senate version:
* Democratic Party: 46-21 (69%-31%)
* Republican Party: 27-6 (82%-18%)
The Senate version, voted on by the House:
* Democratic Party: 153-91 (63%-37%)
* Republican Party: 136-35 (80%-20%)
That’s right – despite the mistakenly popular belief to the contrary, the bill was overwhelmingly supported by the GOP and, as I’m sure you can see, without that overwhelming support, it would never have passed in the Senate and been signed into law. In fact, the Democrats, even with a 67 vote majority, wouldn’t have been able to muster the support to pass it if every Republican had, instead, voted against it. But the record shows 82% GOP support in the Senate and 80% in the House – far greater in percentage than Democrat support.
As famous Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan is credited with saying, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.” In this case, the facts don’t support your spin, Mr. Klein. Learn the history of your party and learn to live with it.
Embrace the suck.
That scene is incredibly muddled and getting more muddled every day. In some ways, such as the Democrat retirements, it reminds me of the political atmosphere of 1994. Charlie Cook, who knows Democrats and their electoral chances, pretty much writes the Democratic Senatorial majority off as a dead loss after 2010:
Come November, Senate Democrats’ 60-vote supermajority is toast. It is difficult, if not impossible, to see how Democrats could lose the Senate this year. But they have a 50-50 chance of ending up with fewer than 55 seats in the next Congress.
When the Republican in the race for Teddy Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts is competitive, you know the electoral landscape has changed and just about anything is possible.
Of course, in terms of divided government, that’s very good news. The fact that it is Republicans, who for the most part, still don’t seem to have a clue, not so much. Of course that obviously depends on who the Republicans end up running, or winning, those seats. Florida’s race between Crist and Rubio is a good example. Crist is the moderate establishment (business as usual, McCain type Republican) while Rubio is more of the Tea Party conservative.
And it is there that the establishment Republican party seems to be missing the boat – again. After a sweeping victory by Barack Obama and the Democrats, the Republicans quite naturally tried to do a little soul searching and, for whatever reason, came to believe that their problem was they didn’t appeal to enough moderates. Yet in the year that has passed since the Obama administration has been in office and the Congress with prohibitive Democratic majorities has been wreaking its havoc, independents, who establishment Republicans choose to characterize as “moderates”, have been abandoning the Democrats in staggering numbers. And they’re looking for a place to go.
Why are they abandoning the Democrats? Because they bought into a myth a compliant and noncritical media aided and abetted concerning the new administration and now they’re seeing the radical truth. And they don’t like it.
However, what they don’t want is a merely less radical replacement. Democrat lite. What independents are in the middle of doing is rejecting, in toto, the Democratic agenda. Rasmussen and others have been providing these clues for months. In the latest Rasmussen poll:
With Democrats in majority control of both the House and Senate, it’s not surprising to find that 79% of Republicans are not confident that their congressional representatives are actually presenting their best interests, but 74% of voters not affiliated with either party agree. Democratic voters are evenly divided on the question.
74% of voters “not affiliated with either party agree” that their Congressional Rep (obviously that includes some Republicans) is not actually representing their best interests. Now that could be for any number of reasons, but on thing for certain, if 74% aren’t happy with their Rep, I’d guess they’re not happy with what the establishment Republicans are selling either.
Enter the Tea Partiers. First written off as brownshirts, angry whites, red-necks, un-American, ‘teabaggers’ and any other pejorative the left-wing thought it could get away with, the movement has grown into a political force. But make no mistake about it – it’s a populist movement. Regardless it has, to a large degree, managed to tap into this unhappiness with what is going on in Washington and give it some structure.
And what continues to astound me is the establishment Republicans seem to think that they “own” the movement – that when push comes to shove, this group will fall in line and vote for them.
There is going to be a war between the Teapartiers and the establishment Republican party. The Teapartiers don’t necessarily support or even like many of the establishment Republicans. As a result that war is going to be waged in primaries. And much like it was on the left (Lamont/Lieberman) it is a war for the soul of that party. Establishment Republicans really don’t seem to understand that – yet. So we see stories like this one where the establishment party is said to have “soured” on Sarah Palin. Love her or hate her, she represents as well as anyone, the populist nature of the movement that the Republicans don’t seem to yet understand. Add the stupidity of the leadership and the visible infighting within the establishment wing of the party, and you hold little hope that they will wake up in time to smell the roses and figure out the formula for electoral success.
Where’s this all headed? To more polarized politics, if that is possible, with the sides much more differentiated – if the Teapartiers get their way. Republicans are going to be moved in a much more conservative direction, come hell or high water, if they want Tea Party support. And the Tea Party movement is going to attract (has attracted?) enough of the independent voters to make the electoral difference.
Conventional wisdom says the electorally successful win by appealing to their base, picking off enough independents to make the difference and then governing from the center. I don’t think that CW is valid anymore. It appears that the public has finally had the scales removed from their eyes with the present administration. The premise that a centrist government is what America wants has been overcome by events. Those events, products of that centrism, have given us the state of affairs with which we’re now afflicted – a welfare state with huge deficits, a debased currency and a behemoth government that is out-of-control. Listen closely to those who spoke up at the summer town halls. It wasn’t just about Democrats and Republicans, folks – it was about the direction of the country and the realization that both parties had participated in creating the horrendous mess we now enjoy.
All of that to say that CW is ready to be turned on its head and, in fact, people (to include independents) are demanding action to roll back government and reduce spending. That should be right in the Republican’s wheel house. Yet instead of really talking their supposed principles and actions to accomplish them, establishment Republicans still insist that it is more important to ensure they have a “big tent”. That is a complete sell out of their principles. The “tent” is established by those principles. What Republicans have to do is fashion a message that makes that tent attractive and brings people to them. That’s what will make it “big”. Compromising their principles to fill the tent is a sure way to lose – and that’s precisely what they’ve proven over the last few elections.
Politically, 2010 is going to be a very interesting year to watch. For libertarians, the best hope is divided government and a Republican party that rediscovers its primary principles and decides to live up to them. I think we’ll get the divided government. However, my concern is the midterms will see enough Republicans elected, despite themselves and their lack of a principled stand, that the important message about principles will continue to be lost on them – again. That will result in a Senate not much different than we have now, where compromise and collegiality are more important than principle and the people. That means big government, more spending and more deficit. And that means Republicans will remain the minority party and out of the White House in 2012.