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Sunday, January 24, 2016


Falling in love again

by Tom Sullivan

By Alan Light (Own work by the original uploader) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or
CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

It is a cliché by now, the observation Bill Clinton once attributed to a friend, "In every presidential election, Democrats want to fall in love. Republicans just fall in line." But being a cliché does not mean it isn't true. Mostly. To their great chagrin, the GOP's base seems to cheating on them by falling in love with Donald Trump.

A flurry of articles in the last 10 days have pointed out both Hillary Clinton's and Bernie Sanders' weaknesses as candidates. They also have their strengths. Those are worth debating on their merits (without rancor, please). But as the cliché suggests, what many don’t acknowledge they really want in an elected leader is a soul mate. As Seinfeld would say, not that there's anything wrong with that. If that’s what you really want. (Cue Mick Jagger.)

I saw this phenomenon up close at ScruHoo when Heath Shuler ran for re-election in 2010. Progressive readers in the Cesspool of Sin by then had had enough of our Blue Dog and cited a catalog of sins for which they would never forgive him (and certainly would never again vote for him). I got curious. A few weeks later I posted:

After the lively discussion on the NC-11 House race a couple of weeks back, I compiled and researched some of the votes commenters cited to make their cases for or against voting for Shuler this November. (The list includes a few others I remembered.) Votes here are for final passage, unless noted. See http://thomas.loc.gov/

“Key votes” are in the eye of the beholder. Your mileage may vary.

Key House Votes Against Party

– HR3 / S5 Stem Cell Research Act of 2007, Passed anyway
– HR3685 Sexual Orientation Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), 2007, Passed anyway
– H Res 1031 Establishment of the Office of Congressional Ethics, 2008, Passed anyway
– HR1 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“Stimulus Bill”), Passed anyway
– HR1913 Hate Crimes Expansion, 2009, Passed anyway
– HR2749 Food Safety Regulation Amendments, 2009, Passed anyway
– H.AMDT.509 to HR 3962, 2010 (Stupak Amendment), 64 Democrats joined Republicans in adding Stupak amendment to Affordable Health Care bill, 240-194
– HR3962, 2010 Affordable Health Care for America Act, Passed anyway
– HR4213 Unemployment Benefits Extension, 2010, Passed anyway
– HR4872 Health Care Reconciliation Act, 2010, Passed anyway
– HR5618 Unemployment Benefits Extension, 2010, Passed anyway

Key House Votes With Party

– HR800 Employee Free Choice Act of 2007, Passed
– HR985 Whistleblower Protection Act of 2007, Passed
– HR2831 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007, Passed
– HR6124 Second Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act of 2007 (Farm Bill), Passed
– HR2642 G.I. Bill Expansion and Other Domestic Provisions, 2008, Passed
– HR 5749 Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation Act of 2008, Passed
– HR 6867 Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation Act of 2008, Passed
– HR2 Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (SCHIP), Passed
– HR627 Credit CARD Act of 2009, Passed
– HR 1106 / S896 Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009, Passed
– HR1586 Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act, 2009, Passed
– HR1728 Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act, 2009, Passed
– HR2454 Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (Cap and Trade), Passed
– HR 3548 Extending Federal Emergency Unemployment Benefits, 2009, Passed
– HR4173 The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009, Passed

OpenCongress.org finds that Rep. Heath Shuler votes with his party 85% of the time.

Almost to a one, the complainants got the bills they wanted passed passed. What they obsessed over were the times they felt betrayed when, for whatever reason, their Democrat didn’t vote their way on some key vote. (It's a conservative district; Pelosi gave him a pass?) In spite of the fact that they got what they wanted legislatively, they wouldn’t let it go. Because what they really want in a representative is a soul mate. In spite of the fact that Shuler voted (to that point) 85% of the time with the caucus and his Republican predecessor, Charlie Taylor, would have voted +/- 0%, people wouldn’t take winning for an answer. Their soul mate had hurt them.

This is politics. If you want a soul mate, try Match dot com.

Yes, the contest between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton has gotten heated. But as David Roberts writes, "the differences between them pale next to their shared differences with any Republican in the race." He observes at Vox:

In 2016, barring some truly disruptive political event (which, who knows, Trump may prove to be), Republicans are going to keep control of the House of Representatives. They may keep control of the Senate as well, though that's less certain, but all they need to block any hope of an expansive legislative agenda is the House, something Obama has learned over and over again.

So there will be no single-payer health care, no national carbon tax, no free college, no reparations. Given the current disposition of the Republican Party, it will be a miracle if regular-order business like budgets and debt ceiling bills can get through — if the government can keep functioning at all.

On legislation, the next Democratic president (if there is one) will mostly play defense, using the filibuster or, if necessary, the veto pen.

What progress there is on domestic policy will come from inventive, assertive use of executive power and smart appointments, both judicial and administrative.

One hopes there will be legislative movement on climate change and improvements to health care, etc. But I agree with Roberts that the next Democratic presidency "will mostly be a rearguard battle." Anymore, Republicans view any Democrat in the White House as illegitimate. So here’s what matters to me most going into 2016: protecting the Supreme Court from Republican appointees who would dismantle women’s rights, minority rights, and voting rights over the next 30 years. Either Sanders or Clinton would prevent that as president. Their other differences are trifles compared to that.

Currently, Mark Meadows, the T-party Republican House architect of the government shutdown, represents NC-11.