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18 Responses

  1. Avatar Bo says:

    Not too long ago, Rod Dreher observed that there isn’t really a liberal equivalent to the epithet “RINO,” and he’s right.

    Huh. I’m not the most politically tuned-in guy, but I’ve heard the term DINO before.Report

    • Avatar Kyle says:

      I don’t think he didn’t meant the term didn’t exist at all but that conceptually there wasn’t an analogue.

      For all intents and purposes few people, if any, use the term DINO, and internal fights tend to be over who’s right in the left, not who is on board and who is a traitor to the cause, which is what RINO really stands for.Report

  2. Avatar Mark says:

    There is an equivalent term for Democrats who aren’t really Democrats: Republican. Ben Nelson? Blanche Lincoln? Mark Pryor? Joe Lieberman? The North Dakota twins? What makes them different from Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins? Hell, what makes them different from Chuck Grassley? That these nominal or one-time (D)s caucus with the Democrats is some relic of the voter registration card they sent in when they were 18.

    I suppose on issues of little importance, we benefit from having them in the caucus. But they’re really moderate-to-conservative Republicans, and just a better option than the Inhofe-type bigot who’d get elected on the (R) side.Report

    • Avatar Kyle says:

      Well in a very real sense, Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln are Southern Democrats, there’s no use expecting them to be anything more liberal than that and for that matter so is Ben Nelson, though Nebraska isn’t technically the South.

      Ezra Klein makes a really good point that on the issue of healthcare, at least, Olympia Snowe is actually more liberal than Ben Nelson.

      The funny thing is on issues of big importance you benefit from having them in the caucus, because with the exception of Lieberman (who I’m not sure why he counts) none of those seats lean left with any reliability so you’d have less support and incentive than you get by having those seats. Those are the votes that are going to deliver health care (in some form), those are the votes that got you the stimulus, those are the votes that were needed for the budget. They’ll probably end up being key votes for the President on Afghanistan. They’re more likely to throw hissy fits over small legislation rather than the ones critical to the success of the party. (SEE DADT, Senator Sam Nunn)

      Personally, I’d have gone for non-Senate Democrats like Heath Shuler to make this point, you know people who don’t just water down bills but actively vote against the caucus.Report

      • Avatar Mark says:

        I think that the House represents the will of the people to a much greater extent than the Senate given the disproportionate out-of-state and business spending in Senate races. So the mere existence of Shuler or any other BDD (I will not use their terminology) who’s really an (R) isn’t quite as good an example as a long-serving Democratic Senator in a poor state who either ignores a majority in his or her state who want universal health care or can’t make the case to his or her supporters that we need universal health care. Or Joe Lieberman, who doesn’t sit with his back to anyone in caucus for fear of being knifed.Report

        • Avatar Kyle says:

          Fair enough but health care polling shows none too much support in Nebraska, and sketchier support in Arkansas and Indiana than in say Massachusetts or California.

          I guess I just don’t understand the sour grapes. You’re never going to get a Democrat from Boston to have the same priorities as a Democrat from Baton Rouge and to use one or two issues as a litmus test is ridiculous which is – in no small part – why the GOP is in the weeds and the Democrats aren’t.Report

          • Avatar Mark says:

            I think it is just as possible to get a Senator from Louisiana to be something other than a corporate tool as it is to accomplish the same thing in the NE or California. Real campaign finance reform, for example, would help. There’s no reason that Max Baucus of Montana should be representing the interests of the insurances companies against the interests of 35 million people in California.

            Also, Ben Nelson’s complete lack of courage (legend has it that the Cowardly Lion was actually from Nebraska) should not be used as evidence that politicians can’t stand up for something that their constituents might not approve of. I mean, you can poll your people, find that they don’t like something, and say screw it, I’m going to oppose it. Or you could have some principles, stick to them and make some attempt to win over the voters to your point of view. But I imagine that there isn’t a single issue in the world that Ben Nelson wouldn’t back down on if it polled 49-51 in his state.Report

    • I’m not going to entirely disagree with where you’re coming from. I take a backseat to no one when it comes to loathing those you listed. However, I think what they really are a corporate whores. And although that type is over-represented in the GOP caucus, I don’t believe all Republicans are corporate whores.Report

  3. Avatar Cascadian says:


  4. Avatar North says:

    For goodness sakes Jamelle! Don’t spill the beans to the conservatives so early!Report

  5. Avatar Ryan says:

    One problem, of course, is that the conservative leadership in the Republican Party has been far less willing to put up with show-boaters like Nelson, Lieberman, etc. This is both admirable and stupid, possibly in equal parts.

    So, in addition to being willing to accept people who disagree with them, they have to be willing to allow Olympia Snowe and some more people like her to completely hijack their agenda. That is, just as the Democrats have aimed for hard-left and gotten center-left, the Republicans have to be willing to settle for center-right rather than hard-right. So far, they haven’t shown a lot of desire to do that.Report

  6. Avatar kenB says:

    Yep, this is true, and it really sucks if you’re an independent/moderate voter, because even if you’re lucky enough to have a candidate to vote for that you’re actually pretty happy with, s/he’s not going to have much real power — it ends up just being a proxy vote for the party hacks.Report

  7. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    I agree – Newt is spot-on here.Report

  8. Avatar Art Deco says:

    Neither the post nor any of the commenters make reference to the internal dynamics of the political class in New York and how that relates (or does not) to public opinion. In a special election, candidates are selected by a weighted vote of the county chairmen in the district in question. No primary was held, and Mrs. Scozzafava is actually a peculiar figure as regards many of her policy preferences, if not in her understanding of the function of politicians in contemporary political economy (in which respect she is sadly banal). The North Country in New York has a population of around 700,000 and about 85% live in the countryside or in non-metropolitan towns. Its electorate has been quite comfortable with common-and-garden Republicans and it has not elected a Democrat in decades. There is no advantage in running a liberal Republican there as there might be in Albany or Rochester. Mrs. Scozzafava’s election was a gesture indicative of the indifference of politicos here to their committed electorate and to the general electorate. If it blows up in their face, that is all to the good. One of the pathologies of New York politics is the abnormal demobilization of the electorate; if something happens which is indicative of a reversal of that, it is all to the good. Dr. Gingrich does not get it.Report