Friday, April 19, 2013

Don't primary red-state Democrats

By Frank Moraes 

After a string of clueless attempts to be iconoclastic, Jonathan Chait managed to write something that is both iconoclastic and right, "Senate Democrats Wise to Block Background Checks." His argument is very simple: red-state Democrats have to make some non-liberal votes to maintain credibility with their voters; this bill was almost completely useless, or, as Chait puts it, "a compromise of a compromise"; therefore, this was a good bill to vote against. And as I noted on Monday, the final law could have been much worse than nothing at all.

One thing that Chait doesn't mention is that as much as these red state Democrats may annoy us from time to time, they are very strong members of the team. In fact, currently the Democratic Party has more discipline in the Senate than the Republican Party. So the calls I'm hearing from certain corners that we could to primary these red-state Democrats are just crazy.

There is a related issue that I think is really important. Democratic politicians from blue states are often quite conservative, especially on economic issues. Dianne Feinstein, from my own great state of California, comes to mind. When it comes to red-state Democrats, a primary challenge might end with a Republican winning the general election. But why aren't we primarying Democrats in blue states?

One of our biggest political problems is that the Republican Party is too extreme and the Democratic Party not extreme enough. One way to fix this would be to enforce a little ideological purity on our representatives from liberal areas. After all, what makes the Republican Party unacceptable is not that Orrin Hatch of Utah is an extremist. He's from an extremist state; he should be extremist. But why do the people of the very liberal state of New York have an economic conservative as governor?

So we need to stop this nonsense about primarying red-state Democrats and start talking about primarying their blue-state counterparts who have no good reason for being as conservative as they are.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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