If you want to run as a Republican on the national level, you must have very specific opinions on many issues. If you deviate from even one, you run the risk of alienation and primary challenges. You may never badmouth your party, never deviate from the party line on major issues and never tolerate dissent. A substantial amount of primary challenges succeed. No matter how crazy something is, you must follow it.
But notice this doesn’t apply to Democrats. There are Democrats who constantly stray from the party line and repeat GOP talking points. Dissent is not only tolerated, but is sometimes encouraged to set them apart from the party line to win in their areas. Primary challenges to dissenters rarely succeed, and if anything, they prove that dissent is favorable to them, causing even more deviation.
This is likely a holdover from the New Deal era, when Democrats had perennial majorities (except in really bad years for them) and both parties were ideologically diverse. Since Democrats always had allies in the opposing party for major political issues, they never worried about losing the majority. But obviously, we don’t live in that world anymore.
Quiz question: name one policy thatwould permanently alienate a Democrat from his party if he disagrees with them. Time’s up. I guarantee that you couldn’t think of one. A Democrat could disagree on abortion, welfare, taxes, or even entitlements and the party always says, “Eh.”
Of course, these Democrats will always be more liberal than any Republicans in that seat, but that is not enough. I want Democrats to win to complete various political and ideological goals — not just to prevent the other side from winning.
Democrats have a faction in their party that goes out of its way to bash its national party and emulate its opposition in public. That would be like if Coca-Cola hired people who told customers not to buy its soda, but still said that they worked for them.
Granted, this faction is smaller than it used to be, and it is now much smaller because of Republicans beating many of them in 2010, but it should be close to nonexistent. It annoys the liberal base and only creates the meme of “bipartisan disagreement” and “Democrats split.”
Now, I don’t completely draw the line here. My rule is this: any Democrat may disagree with the party on a few issues, but they must not disagree on major party priorities, and they must never be proud of any such disagreement. Any Democrat that goes on Sunday talk shows to talk about how uncontrollably liberal their party is should be booted out immediately.
In 2010, Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Tex.), who represented the conservative Waco area, ran a campaign on how he fought Obama’s agenda. A Democrat must never, under any circumstance, proudly fight his or her party, even in rhetoric. All that shows is that you display contempt for your party’s priorities.
Another example is Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), who represented Biloxi and Hattiesburg and bragged about voting for Sen. John McCain. What?! I got mad about Democrats supporting Republicans in rhetoric, but actually supporting them? I am at a loss for words. Both lost their election to candidates Taylor and Edwards, respectively.
Democrats must root out dissenters. If the GOP functions that way, so should the Democrats. This may sound odd, since Democrats are in the minority right now and need help from conservative areas to win the majority. I call baloney on that.
The Republicans didn’t moderate at all in 2010. Here is my easy plan for a liberal, cohesive Democratic Party in the House.
Find, at a minimum, the 218 most liberal districts in the country — no matter what redistricting does, that list will exist — and then win them. There you go.
This is obviously easier said than done. Many of these districts are Midwestern suburbs with popular Republican incumbents, and are rather Republican at the local level. But my point is that this is a path that is there when they want it. If you have to disagree with your national party on so many issues, and then brag about it, I would prefer to just let the GOP have the seat.
I am a liberal first and a Democrat second. I do not want the Democrats to be “the party of the people,” or “the party of sane people.” I want it to be America’s liberal party. Some Democrats disagree with me, saying that our diversity helps us as a party. I do not know why you would ever be proud of something that weakens you, but it is their opinion and not mine.
Dawidowicz is a member of the class of 2012.