5.11.10

FIFTY YEARS OF ENABLING FAILURE, ENABLED. During the campaign season, I recall numerous Serious People ruminating about how the Tea Party was going to turn the Republican Party into a regional reliquary of religiosity. Demography, and fault lines in the Republican coalition, are not yet destiny. (I've encountered versions of this prediction going back to the end of the Reagan administration, often as wishful thinking by the opposition.) Now that the votes are mostly counted, more than a few Serious People are calling the election outcome (which, by all objective standards is a Republican wave of historic proportions) a failure because a few Tea Party candidates managed to prevent the Republicans from securing the Senate.

On the other hand, Karen Dolan would have readers believe that a smaller Democratic caucus in Congress is a positive development.

[T]he Congressional Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus in the House Democratic Caucus at over 80 members, emerged virtually unscathed, losing only three members.

By constrast, the conservative Blue Dog Democratic caucus was more than sliced in half from 54 members to only 26. Further, of the 34 conservative Dems who voted against Obama's Healthcare Reform, a mere 12 won re-election.

Dead weight gone. Good Riddance. The blame for the stalemate to come can now fall squarely where it belongs...on the anti-progressive, anti-democratic, anti-populist Republican members of Congress.

Our work is now finally beginning. The veil of a happy Democratic governing majority is finally lifted. We didn't have it then; We don't have it now. But what we do have now is a more solidly progressive bunch of Dems in Congress and a president presumably less encumbered by the false illusion that playing nice will get him a date with the other team.

A closer look at the caucus roster suggest that many of the survivors are beneficiaries of the Faustian Bargain called demographic proportionality, in which one of the various Voting Rights Acts creates majority-minority districts that the late Tony Snow characterized as electoral Bantustans intertwined amongst majority-Republican districts. It's going to be interesting to watch the reapportionment and redistricting, with several of the states that will be gaining seats in the House of Representatives controlled by Republican legislatures happy to keep the demographic proportionality while creating additional Republican districts, and several of the states that are losing seats controlled by Democratic legislatures that might have to merge some of the majority-minority districts.

There is a substantial overlap between the caucus membership and the Congressional Diversity Caucus that told us there was nothing wrong with Fannie and Freddie, six years ago.

None of which deters Ms Dolan.

Let's throw our support unabashedly behind the Congressional Progressive Caucus and let's push Obama to finally do the right thing through as many Executive Orders as we can present to him.

People...Progressives WON!!! Republicans are all over the map. They're a mess and won't be able to wreak the havoc they seek. We should be energized. We must be energized. Too much is at stake. The road ahead isn't so bad as long as we have the big picture and the fighting spirit spurring us on. Progressives will be the heroes in 2012. Let's make Obama one too.

Great. Stroke of the pen, law of the land, impeachment or contempt of congress hearings.

But what will be the content of these executive orders? The caucus roster includes people whose tenure dates to Watergate, and a few might go back to the era of the Great Society. Anybody remember that: a war on poverty that started about the same time as the incidence of poverty, which had been declining, stabilized for reasons that generations of graduate students have not yet clarified; a model cities program that induced the residents of Barrington and Hinsdale and Scarsdale and Metuchen to see the merits of spending some tax money on commuter trains; school reform after school reform after school reform that somehow produces more dropouts from high school and more remediation in college; a disabilities act that leads to acres of wasted space in parking lots and special education students holding back entire classes; a family leave act that only makes the ambitious and the childless more resentful of the time-servers and the parents; a health care reform that is neither affordable, nor care, nor an Act; and an economic stimulus that failed to stimulate because it was larded with pork for the self-styled progressives.

The caucus roster also includes Members for whom it is expected that they will make silly statements or take bribes. The cheerleaders for the Progressive Caucus, and more than a few Republicans, correctly called out Sarah Palin or Christine O'Donnell for getting the basics wrong. There is, however, no play value in quoting Sheila Jackson-Lee or Dennis Kucinich or Gwen Moore or Fortney Stark, even if the vast right-wing noise machine is having a slow day.

Stop enabling failure and calling it progressive.

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