Many Hands make Long Blog Posts
16 September 2010, 5:58 PM
The big question in Left Blogovia right now is whether it is Good or Bad for My Party (or the country, or the world) to have the Other Party nominating a bunch of loons, grebes and assorted waterfowl to the Senate. There are a bunch of different ways to look at it.
On the one hand, there is the point that nominees chosen for ideological purity will be less electable than nominees chosen for, well, electability. It appears to be true that in Delaware, for instance, the polls are showing good things for the Democratic nominee. This way of thinking says that, essentially, if it helps elect Our Team, then it’s a Good Thing. As you would expect (if you have been hanging out in this Tohu Bohu for a while), this is very much me.
On the other hand, there is the point that in reality the nominees in a statewide general election don’t matter very much. The important things are the economy, the popularity of the President, and the demographic makeup of the state. In Kentucky, for instance, things don’t look so good for the Democratic nominee. Given that, having the Republicans nominate a bunch of boobies, gulls and skimmers just means that the Senate will have more waterfowl in it, and that’s a Bad Thing, both for My Party (because it makes it harder to get anything done) and for the country and the world (because it’s more likely that something really bad will get passed). As you would expect, given my concerns with process and so on, this is very much me.
On the other other hand, there is the point that actually, there isn’t that much difference between having Tom Coburn or a great auk in the Senate, as that whole Party is going to vote the same way on just about everything anyway. And if they are trading an incumbent with some seniority and a bit of clout for some short-tailed shearwater with a loud squawk, so what? Are they going to push that Party’s agenda to the right? Is it going to have a more radical platform? Frankly, that doesn’t seem very likely to me, so here I am in this camp.
On the other other other hand, one of the things about the Senate particularly is that it is set up to maximize the individual clout of crazy Senators. As Jon Bernstein said on Election Day, “it will matter who the 60th most liberal and 60th most conservative Senators are, as well as who will be the 50th/51st most liberal and conservative Senators”. I would add that it matters who the most liberal and conservative Senators are, at least to the general discussion of policy options—I think Bernie Sanders and his insistence that single-payer be at least mentioned in the process made some slight difference in the outcome of the legislation, even if it didn’t, you know, actually persuade anybody that he was right. Maybe I’m wrong about this Overton Window stuff, but maybe I’m not, and if the Window includes a recently hatched set of chicks that are clucking about, well, whatever those people are clucking about, then, well, then this is very much me over here, too.
Has that cleared it up for everyone?
In conclusion, then, we can clearly see that it is either a Good Thing or a Bad Thing, or possibly neither, or conceivably both. So I have an idea, just to test this thing out. It’s too late for this cycle, though, so I think Our Party should just keep it in mind. All right? Here’s the idea. We nominate a bunch of crazy wild-eyed leftists. I don’t mean liberals like Barbara Mikulski. I mean people who make Dennis Kucinich and Maxine Waters look mainstream. People who couldn’t have been nominated to a House seat because they were too far left. Marxists, free-Mumia types, candidates who had been operating the puppets for the street theaters, the Pacifica guests, the up-against-the-wall-motherfuckers. You get it? Just for one cycle, we go absolutely apeshit and we nominate the turkeys and dodos and peckers and tits. As an experiment, right?
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,