Saturday, November 07, 2015

Is A Progressive/Conservative Political Realignment Inevitable?


In the House there are currently almost no Republicans voting more progressively than even the most right-wing Democrats and there aren't many Democrats voting as far to the right as even the most moderate Republican. According the ProgressivePunch's crucial vote scores for the current session, the most anti-progressive Democrat, Florida Blue Dog Gwen Graham, votes against progressive legislation more frequently than 8 Republicans-- Dana Rphrabacher (R-CA), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Mark Sanford (R-SC), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Justin Amash (R-MI), Chris Gibson (R-NY) and Walter Jones (R-NC)-- and it isn't that these Republicans are "left-wing," it's because their libertarian and anti-Establishment principles sometimes align them with progressives. (The only Republican on the list who could actually be termed "moderate" is Chris Gibson, who is retiring from Congress at the end of next year.) The other Democrats besides the very reactionary Graham, who vote further right than at least one Republican are Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX), Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE), Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN), Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY), Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA), Dan Lipinski (Blue Dog-IL), Scott Peters (New Dem-CA), and Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL). Unlike the Republicans, all of these Democrats could be described as being ideologically aligned with the other party and any of them could jump the fence at any time and fit right in with the GOP on most issues-- certainly the economic issues. 13 other Democrats have basically Republican voting records as well and could switch right over to the GOP without having it change much: Ami Bera (New Dem-CA), Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR), Ann Kirkpatrick (New Dem-AZ), Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN), Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA), Dutch Ruppersberger (MD), Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL), Pete Aguilar (New Dem-CA), Tim Walz (MN), Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL), Raul Ruiz (CA), John Delaney (New Dem-MD) and Filemon Vela (New Dem-TX). Several of these right-wing Democrats are "former" Republicans who, for one reason or another, often pure opportunism, never idealism, have left the GOP and joined the Democrats (like Patrick Murphy, Filemon Vela, Pete Aguilar and Brad Ashford).

The Democratic Party Establishment recruits these right wing Democrats are promotes them over progressives at every opportunity. Schumer is pushing Ann Kirkpatrick and Patrick Murphy to run for the Senate and is trying to recruit a former congressman, Heath Shuler, another right-wing Blue Dog, to run for the North Carolina Senate seat. There were talks about recruiting both Rupersberger and Delaney to run for the open Maryland Senate seat as well.

On a national level, the Republican Party targets the right-wing Democrats who voted with them and often defeats them. Nearly the entire Blue Dog caucus has been wiped out by Republicans. But will that always be the case? And in places where the GOP has no chance at all-- often in minority districts-- Republican voters tend to side with conservaDems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party against progressives.

Yesterday, L.A. Times reporter Melanie Mason examined this phenomena in the politics playing out in California, where a raft of progressive legislation was defeated recently as corrupt conservative Democrats aligned with Republicans in the state legislature. She focused on a Central Valley state Senate race between Republican Kristin Olsen, leader of the Assembly Republicans, and fake Democrat Cathleen Galgiani.

California's 5th senatorial district usually elects Democrats, but conservative ones. In 2012 Obama won the district with 54.2% and the even less progressive Feinstein won with 55.5%. Democratic registration trumps GOP registration 40.63- 36.29%. The racial make-up is 40.18 white, 37.77 Latino, 12.56% Asian and 6.55% black. The district includes all of San Joaquin County (Stockton, Tracy, Manteca, Lodi) and a huge chunk of Stanislaus County (Modesto). In 2012 Galliani beat Republican Bill Berryhill 50.5% to 49.5%, less than 3 thousand votes separating them out of over 281,000 votes cast. The last Republican elected there was party-switcher Milton Marks who was a lifelong Republican who "became a Democrat" in 1988, after serving as a Republican since the late 1950s.

Mason reports that the Republican Party isn't going to support Olsen in her race against Galgiani. [Note: keep in mind that when Mason writes "moderate Democrats," she's referring to conservative right-wing Dems who the media always terms "moderates" or "centrists."] "The party has made a commitment to various interests that they will not spend party resources in Senate District 5," Olsen said in an interview, and neither state GOP chairman Jim Brulte nor Senate Republican leader Jean Fuller of Bakersfield would discuss the decision with Mason, who termed their "unusual decision to lay off a competitive race, especially one that could involve a legislative leader... the latest manifestation of a new political order taking shape in the Capitol."
At a time when GOP power in Sacramento has been on the wane, many business interests-- which have traditionally skewed Republican and wield considerable clout in the party-- are throwing their weight behind centrist Democrats like Galgiani.

A year from election day, groups such as the California Assn. of Realtors and Chevron have told the candidates and other political players that they're for Galgiani, a show of support from entities that routinely spend big to back their choices.

Jon Fleischman, a conservative Republican activist and former party official, said he believed the party was holding off on the race to appease business interests. The decision, he said, underscored "the party's dependency on interest groups in Sacramento who do not share the same priorities of the party all of the time."

Business support has helped make moderates the ascendant wing of the Democratic Party, able to flex their muscle in such legislative battles as this year's heated debate on climate issues.

Galgiani "has consistently been ranked as one of the most business-friendly Democrats" in the Legislature, said Trent Hager, her campaign spokesman.

In the Senate, Galgiani was the only Democrat to vote no in June on an ambitious bill to fight climate change, though she switched sides once a controversial provision opposed by oil companies was dropped.

The alliance between business interests and moderate Democrats has been most apparent since the demise of the party primary in California in 2010. Except in presidential races, the two candidates with the most votes advance to the general election regardless of party.

Business groups have backed centrist Democrats in contests featuring other, more liberal members of the same party, who are often supported by labor unions.

But increasingly, business is also siding with moderate Democrats over customary Republican allies. Some corporate interests were furious last year when the Republican Party tried unsuccessfully to unseat Assemblyman Adam Gray, a moderate Democrat from Merced. A group financed by Chevron, the Dental Assn. and insurance agents sprang to Gray's defense with radio ads knocking his opponent.

Olsen, who will hold her leadership post until January, acknowledged that she and Galgiani are "political friends" on many issues. But she noted that even though Galgiani is a "mod," the senator still votes with her party on major legislation such as the budget.

Republicans in the Legislature serve as a check on the majority party, she said: "Our quality of life and our economy as a state and as a valley would be better off when there's more of a balance between the two parties," Olsen said... Olsen said she would make a decision by the end of the year. The lack of party money, she said, won't be a determining factor.

"Will it be disappointing not having the party with me? Of course," Olsen said. "But will that convince me or discourage me from running? No."
In 2012, when Galgiani beat Berryhill, the realtors spent more than $620,000 on her behalf and this year they are pressuring their allies in the state GOP withhold money from the race next year. How does this play out nationally? Wall Street banksters-- who have given "ex"-Republican Patrick Murphy immensely more money than almost any other Democrat in the House ($1,130,150 last cycle and so far $659,600 this cycle, beaten only by Boehner and McCarthy)-- have demanded that Chuck Schumer deliver the Democratic nomination for the open Florida Senate seat to Murphy. Schumer is on the case, smearing progressive icon Alan Grayson coast to coast and cajoling and threatening Democratic funders to abandon Grayson. Is it a sign of a realignment coming? Absolutely.

If you want to help prevent Schumer from packing the Senate with more corrupt Wall Street "Democrats" like himself and Murphy... we have a Blue America ActBlue page for that. Because, regardless of the careerism promoted by the Chuck Schumers and John Boehners, the Debbie Wasserman Schultzes and the Mitch McConnells and the other creatures of Washington, there really are differences between what a progressive is and what a conservative is-- and Elizabeth Warren hit the ball out of the park explaining it the other day:

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