Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Democrats spoiling some of the Obama agenda

We're beginning to see at least some emergence of the "blue dog" moderate and conservative Democrats offering some resistance to the Obama agenda. (The Republicans, as some talking head I listened to bleary-eyed some weeks ago said, are like eunuchs at a Playboy Mansion party; they can observe the goings-on and offer the occasional critique, but can't really do much about it.) It's unlikely "card check" is going to get done, it's unlikely any more serious gun control legislation is in the cards, cap-and-trade is probably dead for now, and serious movement toward more government-controlled health care may be in jeopardy.

Jonathan Chait, in a recent lengthy article in the New Republic, deplores all this foot-dragging by certain Democrats and offers an elaborate explanation involving the fact that the Democrats' long domination of Congress came at a time when Democrats were divided between northern liberals and southern conservatives, they absorbed the compromise culture of Congress so they've never developed the kind of iron discipline the Republicans supposedly have displayed in recent years. Yadda yadda.

The hypothesis he doesn't even consider is that a lot of the districts the Democrats took to garner their majority are conservative and/or rural districts that would only elect relatively conservative Democrats, especially on gun issues. The relatively recent arrivals have to look to reelection and don't want to alienate their constituents or give the Republicans a chance to win those districts back, so they're most unlikely to march in lockstep to the kind of liberal-statist agenda Chait would prefer. But without them, the Democrats probably wouldn't have majorities, or such big majorities, and chances of enacting anything of the liberal agenda would be close to nil, regardless of who held the White House. Chait's frustration is that there just aren't enough districts willing to elect people who think like him, but he doesn't seem to want to acknowledge that.

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