The return of the moderate white Democrat - for now

By

Moderate white Democrat congressman almost became extinct after 1990, when Congressional districts were redrawn to maximize Black and Hispanic seats.  This year the Democrats wisely decided they could not win in suburban and rural districts with openly liberal candidates, and set out to recruit some old fashioned moderate white Democrats. A lack of emphasis on abortion rights certainly helped Democrats candidates among Catholic and evangelical voters, while the positive embrace of the right to carry arms by some Democrats kept the formidable NRA on the sidelines.

The question now becomes whether these successful candidates will, in fact,  vote like moderates. It would be healthy for the Democrat Party to maintain a sizable block of suburban and rural moderates to restrain the liberal excesses of urban colleagues from districts that are 80% or more Democrat.

Unfortunately, several factors work against that happening for long.  Much of the vast sums spent by successful moderate Democrat candidates came from liberal interests outside their Congressional districts and from organized labor.  Those backers will want something in return.  The media will also press these newcomers to "grow in office", with those having ambitions to leadership quickly taking heed. (Al Gore was fairly moderate as a Congressman and look what ambition did to him.)

The liberal blogsphere will also threaten primary challenges if the newcomers don't vote liberal on every issue.  And like many in the Republican classes of 1994—2004, yesterday's victors risk losing touch with the voters back home as they spend long periods enmeshed in Washington's insider political game with its natural emphasis on ever more government.

Many of yesterday's victors ran stealth campaigns—  all negative ads, vague promises and even outright obfuscation on questions about the liberal Democrat leadership in the House and Senate.  There is no such thing as a stealth voting record.  The entire Democrat class of 2006 needs to be reminded of the fate of Democrat Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies—Mezvinsky.  In 1992's media—hyped 'Year of the Woman', she won a narrow victory in a Republican leaning district.  She voted like a liberal and in 1994 her Republican opponent easily took back the seat.

Rosslyn Smith   11 8 06

Moderate white Democrat congressman almost became extinct after 1990, when Congressional districts were redrawn to maximize Black and Hispanic seats.  This year the Democrats wisely decided they could not win in suburban and rural districts with openly liberal candidates, and set out to recruit some old fashioned moderate white Democrats. A lack of emphasis on abortion rights certainly helped Democrats candidates among Catholic and evangelical voters, while the positive embrace of the right to carry arms by some Democrats kept the formidable NRA on the sidelines.

The question now becomes whether these successful candidates will, in fact,  vote like moderates. It would be healthy for the Democrat Party to maintain a sizable block of suburban and rural moderates to restrain the liberal excesses of urban colleagues from districts that are 80% or more Democrat.

Unfortunately, several factors work against that happening for long.  Much of the vast sums spent by successful moderate Democrat candidates came from liberal interests outside their Congressional districts and from organized labor.  Those backers will want something in return.  The media will also press these newcomers to "grow in office", with those having ambitions to leadership quickly taking heed. (Al Gore was fairly moderate as a Congressman and look what ambition did to him.)

The liberal blogsphere will also threaten primary challenges if the newcomers don't vote liberal on every issue.  And like many in the Republican classes of 1994—2004, yesterday's victors risk losing touch with the voters back home as they spend long periods enmeshed in Washington's insider political game with its natural emphasis on ever more government.

Many of yesterday's victors ran stealth campaigns—  all negative ads, vague promises and even outright obfuscation on questions about the liberal Democrat leadership in the House and Senate.  There is no such thing as a stealth voting record.  The entire Democrat class of 2006 needs to be reminded of the fate of Democrat Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies—Mezvinsky.  In 1992's media—hyped 'Year of the Woman', she won a narrow victory in a Republican leaning district.  She voted like a liberal and in 1994 her Republican opponent easily took back the seat.

Rosslyn Smith   11 8 06