Coming in right behind a great dialogue we had here last week, the Houston Chronicle has an article (originally in the NY Times) up this morning about the Democrats, and some of the candidates they’re running:
In their push to win back control of the House, Democrats have turned to conservative and moderate candidates who fit the profiles of their districts more closely than the profile of the national party.
Democratic officials said they didn’t set out with the intention of finding moderates to run.
Instead, as they searched for candidates with the greatest possibility of winning against Republicans in targeted districts, they said, they wound up with a number who reflected a more moderate approach.
There are currently two main groups of moderate Democrats in the House: the Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus of socially conservative and moderate members, and the New Democrat Coalition, a caucus of centrists.
If you’ve been out and about online lately, you’ll know that these Democrats fly right in the face of Republican hyperbole. The chorus rising around everyone with a “D” label is: LIBERAL!!!!! EATS BABIES!!!!! TERRORIST SYMPATHIZER!!!!! with an ominous PelosiPelosiPelosi undertone.
But just as we can’t brand all Republicans with a neo-con label, or say that they’re all trying to legislate Christianity, the Democrats don’t come in a one-size-fits-all either… and in CD14, this made for a fascinating choice: a conservative Democrat (Shane Sklar) vs. a Libertarian-Republican, social conservative (Ron Paul).
At the moment, the term “conservative” (just like “liberal”) is fraught with negative meaning, and while Ron Paul’s Libertarianism keeps him from legislating values, a conservative Democrat is a horse of a different color. Although I’ve written about the Blue Dogs, I was looking at their fiscal approach, not the social.
I decided I needed more information, so I wrote to his campaign, and here’s what Austin Bonner, Sklar’s Communications Director, told me (from an email):
Polimom: Recently, social conservatism has been a driving force behind a number of debates and bills — specifically, abortion and the marriage amendment. What does Mr. Sklar think about those issues?
AB: Shane is pro-life.
Shane does not support changing the constitution on the issue of marriage.
Polimom: …[W]hat was his reaction to the national language proposal this past year?
AB: Shane thinks English is already our national language. This legislation is just pre-election grandstanding.
Polimom: Mr. Sklar’s plan to align with the Blue Dogs, fiscally, is intriguing. I am curious about his opinion of the Bush tax cuts, especially whether they should be made permanent, allowed to expire, or repealed.
AB: Shane supports the permanent repeal of the marriage penalty and the estate tax. In general, Shane thinks the tax code needs to be reformed to be simpler and more transparent.
CD14, then, boiled down to two social and fiscal conservatives – one Republican (who’s really a Libertarian) and one Democrat (who doesn’t eat babies), neither of whom wants to impose his values via legislation. Since I could support either of these candidates, Polimom had to find another basis for my vote.
I have nothing against Ron Paul. He’s consistent with his Libertarian principles, and even when I disagree with him I understand his thinking. However, he’s also a Republican and an incumbent, and right about now, those are big black marks against him… because we need to change this congressional configuration. When they start tallying the numbers in Congress after the election, they won’t be looking at shades of gray; the only designation that will matter is whether there’s a “D” or an “R” following the names.
But shades of gray matter to me.
My vote for Shane Sklar was, in fact, extremely satisfying; I said no — which felt very familiar — even as I said yes — which did not.
* * * * *
Matt Stoller at MyDD has a post up that sums up some of my discomfort with the Democrats right now. There is no room, apparently, for people who are to the right of left; for some folks, there’s only one agenda.
How is that different from the moderates who are being attacked by the rabid-right?
Like Bull Moose, though, Polimom’s feeling pretty good about this gravitational pull toward the middle — from both sides. But then, I’ve decided I’m better described as “anti-partisan” than anything else.
Here’s some more blogospheric reaction to these “other” types of Democrats:
Outside the Beltway