When you spend your days reading blog after blog in Blogtopia (© Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo), you forget there's an entire moderate-progressive movement out there that makes you look like a left-winger.
Indeed, yesterday's thoughtpiece on Christ, Christmas and living life in the 21st Century made me cringe a little to post: it firmly placed me in the Ceiling Cat corner. Someone who believes in a traditional religious experience, not atheist, and not sardonically supporting the Flying Spaghetti Monster in some hipster rank-out on his upbringing.
Reading blog after blog, you find that Hillary is a criminal (or worse, a sell-out), Obama's cool, Edwards is even cooler but looks like he won't make it (but we should all support him anyway), and why in the hell don't the Democrats in Congress show some backbone and impeach the bastards?
And then, you take a breath and read a story like this, and you realize that so little of the left-wing of this country, nevermind the electorate, is represented on-line:
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.And then you remember that, if it wasn't for these "conservative Democrats," there wouldn't even BE a chance to talk about the crimes of this administration: Democrats wouldn't be in charge, and we'd be watching the dodderings of Dennis Hastert and Trent Lott in the leadsership roles.
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.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other members of the party's leadership are happy to tolerate the independence on procedural matters. Less than three hours after opposing the late-October journal vote, the same six freshmen sided with Pelosi as Democrats tried, and failed, to override President Bush's veto of a bill to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program by $35 billion over five years, legislation that Pelosi has called her "crown jewel."
Try telling that to the more militant rabble on the left, however.
To give you an idea how valuable these freshmen are:
Protecting the 42 freshman Democrats, the largest partisan class since 73 Republicans took office in 1994, has been the top priority for key Democratic strategists such as Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.). The freshmen get special treatment from leaders, including a weekly meeting with Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.). And they receive frequent advice on how to vote from Emanuel and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.Those are some pretty heavy hitters. My suspicion is, there's an even smaller core that get direction straight from Pelosi.
This isn't about power. It's about preventing another 109th Congress, and watching the pickings of the American economy get plucked by Republicans and their cronies at the expense of the middle- and working-class Americans they would court for votes.
Imagine the recent sub-prime mortgage debacle as handled by Republicans, for example. It would have been hushed up and hidden until after next November, at which point a) it would have been too late to help ten million American familes and b) the banks would have gotten away wholly scot-free, whereas now there's still a chance that they'll be held accountable for their predatory lending practices.
It is a compromise, I know, but it's one that simply has to be done right now. There's not a lot of wiggle room. The Republicans aren't defeated and crushed yet.
This does bring a new dynamic to Congress in 2008. My guess is, keep an eye out for a lot of sub-committee and committee meetings on a variety of topics, just to put them on the table, like wire-tapping and other crimes against humanity and civil rights by the Bushies.
Just don't expect them to come to the floor until after November 4. Then look out.