Friday, November 10, 2006

Two ladies from Maine

Maine voted 53.2% for John Kerry in 2004 but Olympia Snowe was re-elected Republican Senator with 74% over a Democrat with 21%. Snowe and fellow Republican Susan Collins are moderates. Their National Journal 2005 liberalism rankings were 52.7% and 53.2%, together with Arlen Specter they are the only Republicans slightly on the left. Some speculate they could shift parties on become Democrat-aligned independents. After 1994 two conservative Democrats joined the Republicans. It is an interesting study in political loyalty. Lincoln Chafee slightly more liberal than them lost in Rhode Island and was interviewed yesterday:
When asked if his comments meant he thought he might not belong in the Republican Party, he replied: "That's fair."… A lifelong Republican who succeeded his father, the late John Chafee, in the U.S. Senate, Chafee said he waged a lonely campaign to try to bring the party to the middle. He described attending weekly Thursday lunches with fellow Republican senators and standing up to argue his point of view, often alone. "There were times walking into my caucus room where it wasn't fun," he said. Chafee said he stuck with the party in large part because it allowed him to bring federal dollars home to Rhode Island. He said he did not regret not switching parties before the election because he felt it kept him in the best position to help Rhode Island to remain with what was then the majority party. He also described himself as a loyal Rhode Island Republican, and said he didn't want to communicate that he was suddenly "flying the coop." He said he worked to build the party since he was a child, when his father first won elected office when he was 3 years old.
One could be derisive of these musings, but even if misguided I think there is something worthy of respect in sticking to a project that had once achieved good outcomes in the past, maybe it’s why I've become less critical of Communists then I used to be. It's not an unworthy tradition that Snowe and Collins defend but it is an exhausted one and trying to keep it alive as Harold Meyerson argues only assists the hard Republican right. Says he:
Historically, the major parties in America have yoked together the most disparate groups for long periods. The New Deal Democrats were a party of Northern liberals and Southern segregationists. But once Lyndon Johnson committed the Democrats to civil rights for African Americans, the white South up and left -- a process that took 40 years to complete but that left the Democrats struggling to assemble congressional and presidential majorities and that converted the Republicans into a party where Southern values were dominant. Now the non-Southern bastions of Republicanism may themselves up and leave the GOP, seeing it as no longer theirs. Susan Collins may protest that she has a quarrel with the Democrats, but it's her own party that provoked this transformation. And in a larger sense, her quarrel is really with history.
Talking of principle and opportunism this is an accurate judgment on Harold Ford's campaign:
This election brought one overlooked blessing. There will probably be less public flaunting of private religious beliefs in campaigns. The voters in one state issued a firm rebuke to that. That’s one way to interpret the defeat of Harold Ford, Jr. in Tennessee. Good Lord, a political commercial filmed in church. Democrats must have sent silence prayers into the ether for relief from that stunt. The voters of Tennessee answered them. Please, let the curse of blunt displays of piety in politics initiated by Jimmy Carter thirty years ago, come to an end. If Jesus had cared that much about politics he would have delivered the Sermon on the Mount in Rome.
Australians politicians please take note.


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