While the most optimistic among Democrats strive to cast Evan Bayh as a canary, for all the world he looks to me like a rat that precedes the call I have been waiting for -- “Women and children first.”
But a funny thing happened on my way to the lifeboats – Scott Brown rowed by.
Whatever the nature of Senator Brown’s party, he proved this week that it isn’t the nature of the Republicans or Democrats of the 111th Congress.
And what even the canary scenario makes clear is that the nature of the problem with the 111th Congress isn’t a two-party stalemate – not when one of the parties controls both legislative houses and the executive branch. It’s a food fight among all iterations that ever were in the splintered Democratic Party.
Gnashing their teeth at this table are everything from the Bourbon Democrats (which in Southern Maryland means needing to drink more to sit by one of them but elsewhere might simply mean Chamber of Commerce isolationists) to the New Democrats (somewhat akin to Chamber of Commerce internationalists). And there are the War Democrats and Peace Democrats, named not for anything in the 20th or 21st centuries but holdovers proving we’re a nation not recovered from its Civil War. There are even smatterings of New Deal Democrats and Great Society Democrats retread as Progressives (named such since the spell cast in 1964 forbidding the speaking aloud of the L-word). And of course there are the true Republicans affectionately referred to as Southern and/or Reagan Democrats.
Why even try to explain the Republicans who don’t splinter their factions but kill them off. (How else to explain the contemporary GOP as evolved from Free Soilers?) The last shreds of the Republican’s liberal faction dissolved in tears shed by Senator Charles Percy in 1978 when he promised Illinois voters that if they reelected him he would leave such waywardness behind. They did. He did. More recently the endangered Moderate Republicans turned into Independents. And who does that help?
Looking longingly at Scott Brown’s lifeboat it seemed possible that a Truth in Labeling Strategy might help me stay aboard my Democratic ship; first moving the Southern Reagan Democrats over to the Republican side of the aisle. Let’s at least get over the illusion that a majority of anything exists in congress. And before you Democrats start wailing about your loss of numbers (cause judging from my Southern Maryland district let me assure you there would be a loss of numbers) consider how this relabeling would reconfigure our upcoming gubernatorial primary.
If the Republicans are leery of these additions they could turn into Tea Partiers and perhaps those Southern Democrats could return some Moderates to the Grand Ole Party. It couldn’t hurt to have a few more Moderates running the place.
Then let’s throw the Bourbons and New Democrats in together. Let them bicker among themselves about who gets to make the buck today at the expense of ten bucks tomorrow. Let’s see if they can convince anyone besides the bankers that a dollar today regardless of tomorrow is really Capitalism at Work for All.
Let’s just change the name of the War Democrats to the Add-Ons and seat them near the New Democrats. Then fold those Peaceniks in with the Liberals because their couple of votes never matter in the present anyhow, but it is always nice in hindsight to see one or two Democrats had a sane world vision.
And as for all the rest of us – we wimpy Progressives and noncommittal Independents and even some of those Tea Partiers who actually just want their country back – let’s give Scott Brown a call to see just what this new form of governing is about. Let’s ask him to speak at a luncheon or something. Maybe he doesn’t have a grand plan yet, but it would be nice just to hear again his explanation for voting in favor of a Democrat-crafted job-creation bill. “…anytime you can make a small step, it’s still a step.”