Beltway Spin Podcasts

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Ensuing War In The Democratic Party

I was doing my morning reading and came across an article in the National Journal about Congressman Artur Davis ( D-AL). The article stated that Davis had some parting shots for the democrats. Davis lost his re-election bid during the 2010 Midterm elections. Davis has been touted as representing a new generation of political leadership in the democratic party. Even though he has generally taken a centrist path since getting elected to the House in 2002, he still generally voted with the democrats until he ran a recent campaign for governor of Alabama, where after which he split with his party more often and started voting with blue dog democrats. Davis split with the democrats on some key votes, for example on health care reform and on tax cuts where he was one of only twenty democrats to vote against cutting taxes for the middle class only. Artur Davis epitomizes what I perceive as the coming ensuing battle between populist and centrist factions within the democratic party.

A populist is one who advocates for the rights and powers of the common people with their struggle with the privileged elite. The populist faction represents working class Americans and advocate for policies like those advocated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. A centrist is a person who takes a position in the political center. They often times make compromises that benefit the already well connected and big business.

We have seen this dynamic play out repeatedly with this White House and a handful of blue dog democrats in the US Senate versus the US House of Representatives during the entire last two years. The White House and handful of blue dogs are repeatedly making deals with the wealthy and big business interests and advocating for what a majority of Americans are opposed to. For example, eliminating the public option, not allowing Americans to get cheaper drugs in other countries (re importation of prescription drugs), and withdrawing troops from Iraq. The President just announced on this past Monday a freeze in federal worker salaries because of deficit concerns. By yesterday (Thursday) this White House is advocating as a compromise on the tax cut issue, to extend tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires that would add another $700 billion to the deficit. Does this make any sense? How will the POTUS explain this to working class Americans?

On many of these issues the corporate media has falsely portrayed those in support of the public option, the elimination of tax cuts for the wealthy, or those in support of withdrawing troops from war, as those in the President's liberal base. This is simply not true. In the majority of polling (we know how much pundits, corporate media, and politicians repeat polling data ad nauseum) the majority of Americans support the public option, re importation of prescription drugs, not extending tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires, and withdrawing troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet this White House, instead of running with majority sentiment, makes deals with wealthy and big business interest continually that run counter to the sentiments of the majority of Americans.

The only positive light over the last two years has been the US House of Representatives where they have passed bills that represented generally what the vast majority of Americans wanted on the dire issues facing us today. For example, their health care reform bill originally included the public option and yesterday they passed a tax cut bill for the middle class only.

By constantly adopting republican policies, it is a clear illustration that proves that a strategy of centrism does not work. It seems the Obama White House are "knee deep" in centrism. This is why the democrats suffered those massive losses during the midterms last month. If you consistently approve legislation that the vast majority of Americans are opposed to, how is that a winning strategy? At every turn this President and handful of blue dog democrats in the senate and house are disarming their own party from being able to effectively fight the republican opposition. What will be Obama's case for re-election to draw voters? As a person who shed tears of joy on the election night of November 4, 2008, this has been astonishing to watch.

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