As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Coming Republican Dissolution

The MS-01 pickup is truly a game-changer, and bodes extremely well for the fall. I don't know if the additional Democrats mobilized by a competitive Presidential primary in Mississippi in March played a factor or not, but this was a 62% district for Bush, and we didn't just win, but we won by 8 points. With high turnout for a special election - over 100,000 voters. November looks very strong, as Kos diarist dweb8321 points out with 26 supporting reasons, many of which I've noted here in the past (McCain still hasn't polled above 45% nationally, he can't break 75% in these primaries when he's not running against anyone, Bob Barr, etc.)

Now, the Republicans made a big mistake by trying to run against Barack Obama in this seat instead of Travis Childers, something I think they'll alter for the fall unless they are stupider than I thought. Tom Cole of the NRCC basically sounded the alarm last night.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, sounded an alarm for all GOP candidates "to take stock of their campaigns and position themselves for challenging campaigns this fall" while lashing themselves to the presidential candidacy of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

"The political environment is such that voters remain pessimistic about the direction of the country and the Republican Party in general. . . . Time is short," Cole said in a statement.

House leaders like John Boehner are already trying to co-opt Obama's "change" message for Republicans - which shows you how appealing McCain's message of less jobs and more wars is. Trying to ride the coattails of the opposition party's President doesn't seem to me like a winning strategy, either, but I'm not going to spend too much time trying to help the GOP out with one. "Don't call yourself Republicans and/or impeach Bush" spring to mind. Oh, and change your leadership - that's change you deserve!

Will the election of Travis Childers, and self-described "conservative Democrats," have a positive effect on progressive policy? First, Childers got himself elected on getting out of Iraq, fully funding education and "taking care of his mother" who has breast cancer. Those aren't incompatible issues with mainstream Democratic issues. In addition, the House is almost totally a majoritarian body. Nancy Pelosi has kept her caucus almost 90% of the time because she brings up for vote those bills that can hold the caucus. The more Congresscritters in the caucus, the more confidence she can have to hold the votes. So it doesn't matter exactly what Travis Childers supports, but what Pelosi can get away with. I'd like to see her try and get away with more, but with the Emanuel/Hoyer faction acting as saboteurs that's not going to happen.

But the other thing is that politicians move with their electorate. By electing progressives in the House - which we have a legitimate chance to do in November - the caucus will move to the left, particularly on economic grounds (both Childers and Don Cazayoux have strains of economic populism). And as the country goes center-left, politicians will strive to keep up.

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