The Bush Dogs

I’ve been a supporter of Melissa Bean since 2003 at least and I certainly wouldn’t say that replacing her would end up with a better Member of Congress from IL-8. Also, most readers know I don’t go much for litmus tests for Democratic candidates, but I have to agree with Matt Stoller that we need to do something about the Democratic Congress Members who are passing things like the bankruptcy bill and more importantly, the expanded authority for wiretapping without a warrant under th FISA law.

In the case of IL-8 we aren’t likely to get a full throated progressive, but it’s a significant problem that Bean has voted for issues trying to appear moderate that do not have the support of the political center even in her district. More than that, the 38 people Matt list are mostly in Republican leaning Districts, but even these votes aren’t in the center of these Districts–they are well to the right.

With Bean this is especially relevant. It’s true that her district is more concerned with taxes and budgetary issues than many others, but neither the bankruptcy bill nor the FISA changes are popular. They do get the attention of the Tribune which Bean uses to demonstrate she is a ‘moderate’ and so she ends up seeking their approval on everything. She’s not going to change the triangulation pattern–it’s a winning strategy in that District, but I think she can be moved towards targeting different issues that aren’t nearly as destructive as these. In other cases, we just need to take people out–like Lipinski who is in a 59% Kerry District and votes horribly on just about everything.

However, in the case of Bean and presumably her consultants, we need her to be a strong voice for basic Constitutional Protections–protections gutted by the new version of FISA. We need her to not be voting for a bill that makes those in financial trouble because of sickness or the loss of a job even more vulnerable. We need her to stand up against torture. We need her to stand up against an incredibly unpopular President who not only got us into an unnecessary war, but continues to epically mismanage the war. When she does support such policies, she undermines the reason for Democratic control of Congress and the Presidency, but also, and more importantly, the country.

In a District like Illinois 8 I would never advocate a Democrat try and be Jan Schakowsky. I’ll give them slack on tax and budgetary issues. I’ll give them some slack on social issues to some degree. I’ll give them slack on trade to some degree. But I won’t give them slack on issues of fundamental fairness and Constitutional Rights. These are winning issues in all, but the very most conservative areas and even IL-8 isn’t that conservative. Warrantless wiretapping of American citizens is not a winning issue with the public.

Go out and prove you are a ‘different’ kind of Democrat on some issue like taxes or business issues, but keep the Constitution safe and the same protections for the poorest amongst us that the better off have.

If you cannot stand for these vital principles, then what’s the point?

8 thoughts on “The Bush Dogs

  1. In a District like Illinois 8 I would never advocate a Democrat try and be Jan Schakowsky. I’ll give them slack on tax and budgetary issues. I’ll give them some slack on social issues to some degree. I’ll give them slack on trade to some degree. But I won’t give them slack on issues of fundamental fairness and Constitutional Rights. These are winning issues in all, but the very most conservative areas and even IL-8 isn’t that conservative. Warrantless wiretapping of American citizens is not a winning issue with the public.

    Can’t agree with you more there. I have some issues with the Bush Dog idea though. It seems to me to be an underlying way to have a litmus test on all Democrats (that they have to be the kind of progressives that the blogosphere wants).

    I want Lipinski out… but I don’t want a primary challenge to Bean just so the Dems can lose a seat.

  2. I think you are right–I didn’t think about the title much and it’s straight from Matt’s article. I probably would phrase it differently.

  3. Our choices are not limited to giving her a pass on fundamental Constitutional protections or electing a Republican.

    A great number of Bean’s active supporters are more liberal than she is. We have made a considerable effort to nudge her along on Iraq, and it has been largely successful. She will not be a leader but she will vote with the Dem caucus on most Iraq measures. And that is something. It helped that she had an independent challenger who was on her left on the Iraq issue, while at the same time, fortunately, was to her right on other isssues and probably took as many votes from the Republican as from her.

    Her aides are bright, decent people. On an issue like FISA, if her supporters visit the office and explain what is going on, we might be able to move her.

  4. Rep. Bean voted for CAFTA torture and warrantless wiretapping of american citizens. DO yo not feel as though you are rationalizing her position to make yourself feel better for not standing up for your own rights? Rep. Bean’s aides ARE smart. They have you believing that they care about anything besides themselves and their own corporate interests.

    I may not know this district but even executives that live in Mc Mansions in Naperville or wherever this district is located must still have a soft spot for the constitution. right?

    peace
    mg

  5. I live in the 8th and Melissa Bean is my representative. I did not vote for her. However, I now see that instead of simply towing the party line, she is a free thinker and makes decision based on the facts, and not simply to support partisan divisiveness. I’ll vote for her the next election cycle as long as she stays this course of individual thinking.

  6. Maybe we shouldn’t take this Bush dog out, but we should start thinking about taking some of them out. We will have a majority of over 50 seats after the fall election. Those Democrats who vote with the Republicans against health care, ending the war, or other major issues, should be put on a list and the 10 worst should be have their seats “given” to the Republicans with a primary opponent or even an independent candidate in the general to split the Democratic vote and hand the seat to the Republicans.

  7. IL-8 is a district made up of wealthy, college educated professionals, and lower-to-mid middle class working people.

    The wealthy portion tend to be fiscally conservative but are socially liberal. They have voted Republican, but are also willing to vote Democratic when presented with a “non-threatening” candidate — that is, one that does not scream about raising taxes. This segment, along with card carrying Democrats, helped get Bean into office.

    The low-to-mid middle class portion are socially conservative and mostly loyal to the Republican party. They have supported reactionary Republican candidates for national office, and are less likely to switch parities for anyone — Bean included.

    Maybe this is what confuses people about IL-8: that the wealthy are the best chance to get a Democrat elected, and the working class portion is the most likely to vote Republican.

    Drive through the district: in the North, there are more churches than places to eat; in the west, there is more retail, recreation and estates.

    So, how did Bean win, and how will she continue to win? By stressing conservative tax positions and toeing the line on major issues so as to not be called out by Republicans.

    As a result, Bean is one of the most conservative, reactionary representatives in the House calling herself a Democrat. She knows the local and state party will support her simply because she is an incumbent. Bean doesn’t care what anyone here or on any Democratic blog has to say about her. In fact, your opinions of her only demonstrate to her what she should be against. Bean would have run as a Republican had the opportunity presented itself, but with Crane as the incumbent, her only chance was to run as a Democrat. (Crane, it turns out, did more for progressive politics in the district simply by being drunk and not showing up to vote. Bean’s problem is simply that she is there and votes.)

    I know all this because I have spoken to her on numerous occasions, seen her at work on the campaign trail, and live in her district.

    As long as Bean is in Congress she will vote for Pelosi for majority leader and vote with the Democrats on procedural issues. Otherwise, she will vote with the Republicans.

    That’s simply the way it is. Either live with a Democrat who votes with the Republicans in order to secure the committee chairs, or sacrifice a seat for in hopes of getting a candidate who you care about.

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