Sunday, May 18, 2008

Democrats and their growing Ideological Divide

One of the most interesting things to come out of this apparent Democratic swing of American Electorate is that it hasn't necessarily transferred to a swing in policy views.  Carl Hulse of the New York Times brings up an interesting point that hasn't really been documented too much the overall coverage of what appears to be an upcoming Democratic domination of Congress and the Presidency(Unless McCain wins, which is very possible). The Democrats who have prevailing in so called "conservative locales," may be Democrat in name but ideologically are as different as average Republican to Democrat.

Hulse describes it pricisely when he says:

As their numbers expand, they have to juggle the competing interests of Travis Childers, the new pro-gun, pro-life, anti-tax Democrat from northern Mississippi and someone like, say, Nancy Pelosi, a pro-choice, pro-gun control liberal from San Francisco who sees government as a solution.

When you think about the job of Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House, one of the major functions is to get the party to vote together. Problems can rise if one is voting on gun control or abortion as described in the ideological differences between Rep. Childers and Rep. Pelosi. Finding internal consensus becomes more difficult when the ideological divide grows within the Democratic party.

Diversity of opinions is definitely a great thing within a party. A lot of constructive and positive debate can come out of these differences as well as policies that reach out to as much as people possible, rather than reflecting the ideology of one side. However, as seen in recent times, which is no fault of Nancy Pelosi (arguably), it is difficult to manage a caucus of members that literally from right and left but still are Democrats. Whether one wants argue whether these people are Democrats or (DINOS: Democrats In Name Only) is for another discussion.

One of the unintended consequences of this divide is that while it is great for the Democrats that their numbers increase it also leads to an appearance of a party unable to govern. Meaning that with the American populace looking and voting for what appears to be a Democratic majority, when the party is unable to vote together to get major bills passed (Iraq War Spending Bill), it looks like they can't accomplish anything.  Many of these leaders want to keep their seats so they may not be able to back a bill that the left support or simply they may not support it. However, this may not be a big issue in the long run. The number of conservative democrats may end up being negligible and as one Representative highlights "Each of these wins expands our majority"

I guess that is the point overall but how sustainable is it. To a certain extent it feels like the electorate has moved but maybe they've moved towards the democratic brand and not toward the Democratic agenda. Maybe not. I guess we'll have to wait a few years to see the outcome.

It makes me wonder what the two Democratic Presidential Candidates are talking about when they cite all this consensus building and winning over Republicans and working with them. All these promises may really mean that they are just looking for a Democratic majority so they can force their legislation through because after all, how can they pass their major plans without compromise through a Republican Senate or House that has different ideologies? Guess you need a Democratic majority.

New York Times

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