It seems many Freshman Congressman, including my own North Carolina Congressman Heath Shuler, have regularly been voting against approving the House Journal, which are essentially the minutes of the previous day's work in the House. They have done so for the purpose of making it appear to voters in their districts that they do not march to the tune of Pelosi and company.
Paul Kane of the Washington Post reports:
Half a dozen freshman Democrats took to the House floor one late-October morning to cast their lot with Republicans.
Their actions went unpunished by the Democratic leadership that day, as they have on many other occasions in recent weeks. The symbolic gesture -- casting nay votes on approving the House Journal, essentially the minutes of the previous day -- would have no bearing on the leadership's agenda.
While they overwhelmingly support that agenda, the bloc of freshmen has begun casting votes against such minor procedural motions in an effort, Democratic sources and Republican critics say, to demonstrate their independence from their leadership. The number of votes that the potentially vulnerable newcomers to Capitol Hill cast against House leaders is tallied and watched closely by interest groups and political foes.
Such is the political life of many of the 42 freshman House Democrats, a sizable number of them moderates and conservatives who must straddle the fence between supporting their party's interests and distancing themselves from a mostly liberal leadership as they gear up for their first reelection battle next fall.
Congressional Democrat leadership is in approval of this strategy. Given their dismal approval ratings, I can see why some Congressional Democrats might consider padding their record for independence a good idea in concept. In practice, however, freshman and veterans alike seem to have overlooked that information about this type of sham independence is readily available to constituents.
The negative campaign commercials all but write themselves, and the end result is only to further alienate those who already think the term politician is entirely synonymous with cynical yellow bellied sapsucker.