Last week, Mitch McConnell attempted from the floor of the US Senate to take credit for the improvement in the US economy, but comic interlude aside: Democrats have been running away from positive news. To be sure, the Fox News / GOP public relations machinery is a fearsome drag on Democratic hopes. Still, Democrats have too few examples of standing up in the face of the storm.
Back in the early oughts, Blue Dog Democrats in Congress sought to define themselves by tacking towards conservativism. The net result was negative for the Democrats. The Blue Dogs -- mostly southern Democrats -- steered along Bill Clinton's path to victory in 1992. "Compassionate conservatism", trumpeted by Florida's Jeb Bush in 1998, was the GOP/ Karl Rove attempts triangulate the other way.
Although Clinton succeeded in his own presidential elections, he left the Democratic "bench" in tatters.
Congressional Dems are still consuming this bitter fruit of the Clinton presidencies as they try to figure their way to voters.
In Florida, the contrast is represented by first-term Congresswoman Gwen Graham and Congressman Alan Grayson. Grayson is a straight-up, unapologetic liberal. Graham, in her first votes in Congress, showed her willingness to step away from Democratic supporters. She voted for the Keystone pipeline and voted to lessen safeguards for the banking industry.
In, "Moderate Dems angry that Warren liberals are raining on their pro-biz parade", Daily Kos commented:
"Democrats lost the midterms because they failed to make the case to the American people that they had discernibly improved their lives. Wall Street handouts do nothing to help that case."
Agree. Here is the rest of that Daily Kos opinion:
(Jan 09, 2015 10:20am PST by Kerry Eleveld)
This is cute. The New Democrat Coalition—a "pro-growth, fiscally responsible" group of Democratic lawmakers—thinks the Democrats' "lack of pro-business messaging" is what hurt them in 2014:
[M]embers also brought up concerns about the government spending bill that passed in December and the lack of pro-business messaging in the mid-term elections.
Okay, back to the story from Politico. Warring factions of congressional Democrats have emerged in the wake of the GOP's failed effort this week to delay certain provisions of Dodd-Frank (you know, the law that's meant to protect consumers from abuse by behemoth financial institutions).
Tension reached a boiling point during a closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday over the party’s stance toward Wall Street banks, according to multiple sources at the meeting.
Liberal Massachusetts Rep. Mike Capuano incensed the moderates when he said if Democrats support rolling back Dodd-Frank regulations, “you might as well be a Republican.”
Moderate Democrats—who suddenly feel under siege after Sen. Elizabeth Warren put the klieg lights on the dark corners of efforts to empower business at the expense of taxpayers—are arguing that Democrats will be confined to minority status forever if they don't, well, moderate their efforts to protect consumers.
They were angered because that same legislation had garnered support from more than 70 Democrats in the 113th Congress, but became a political landmine after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) criticized the legislation as a Wall Street handout.
Please read below the fold for more on this story.
This week, just 35 Democrats voted with Republicans to undermine Dodd-Frank, but it wasn't enough for passage. Rep. Capuano is not impressed with the moderates:
“I feel strongly that the Democratic body is supposed to be representing the average American who is unaware and incapable of defending themselves when it comes to things like Wall Street abusing them,” Capuano said in an interview. “I feel strongly about it and I said so.”
This story is still developing—at least in the sense that it will play out over and over straight through 2016 and then in perpetuity. The question isn't whether there will be warring factions—it's who has the momentum?
Warren's efforts have clearly helped empower liberals who don't buy into the idea that winning elections means favoring business interests over those of regular folks. Nor does it represent good governance.
Democrats lost the midterms because they failed to make the case to the American people that they had discernibly improved their lives. Wall Street handouts do nothing to help that case.