Posted by | November 11, 2010 10:37 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

Losing elections prompts self-examination.  And no one is better at turning self-examination into circular firing squads than the Democratic Party.  There is a current debate (war?) being waged between the centrists and the moderates for who to blame for the disaster (and therefore which way to go next).  Weighing in on the left, most eloquently is Ari Berman:

…a handful of the loudest and staunchest apostate Democrats, who voted against nearly every one of Barack Obama’s signature priorities, were doing more harm than good. They brought the party nothing in terms of legislative votes and only undermined the broader Democratic message and brand. Interestingly enough, these Democrats, like Bobby Bright of Alabama and Walt Minnick of Idaho, seemed to believe that if they just voted against the president frequently enough, they’d be able to differentiate themselves from the national Democratic Party and retain their seats. But that didn’t happen—the Blue Dog coalition was slashed in half on Election Day. So while the election was certainly not a validation of liberalism, it wasn’t an endorsement of Blue Dog–ism either.

Berman goes on to argue that Republicans are better at keeping their moderates in line.  But Republican moderates are suffering the same fates as Democratic ones.  Mike Castle is gone and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe have won their last elections as Republicans.  There is even talk of primaries to weed out Orrin Hatch (that noted moderate) and Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2012. Republicans will be passing up a golden opportunity to take the Senate in 2012 with moves like this.

I’m all for getting rid of Bobby Bright and Walt Minnick who voted against Obama time and time again.  But, when I hear cries that an ideologically pure minority is better than a diverse majority, I hear Jim DeMint.  This election wasn’t about Blue Dogs or socialism.  It was about an economy still in the crapper.  The Democrats can take the House back in 2012 but they will need a better economy at least as much as they will need better candidates.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.