Pundits will say in the coming days that the Democrats big problem as they try to govern will be that they can’t “go left” as much as their liberal base wants and that if they “go left” it will bring nothing but trouble. They’re wrong. No Democrats will not be able to do everything liberals want them to do, but except for maybe the big Democrat majorities following the 1936 and 1964 elections, a party can never deliver everything it’s base wants (but can still deliver a lot).
The biggest problem facing Dems? Their own insecurity. In his pre-election article “Democrats Getting Kerried Away?” National Journal writer John Mercurio correctly notes how the Democrats cut and run from Kerry after the “botched joke”-and points up a bigger problem for Democrats than any statement made by Kerry (or any other Democrat). It’s a problem that is a lot more fundamental.
“What is notable, and far more important as we anticipate the prospect of Democrats taking back the House and/or Senate this week, is the knee-jerk condemnation Kerry drew for his misstatement. Not from Republicans — that’s all part of the game — but from his own party. The degree to which Democrats, nervous that even a manufactured non-controversy could imperil their prospects Tuesday, were willing to drum their 2004 presidential nominee off the campaign trail says little about Kerry and a lot about how insecure they remain about their public image on national security and terrorism.”
After illustrating some quotes from Democrats and the beating Kerry got from Democrats, Mercurio notes that:
“The entire exercise was, of course, amplified by both parties’ pre-election angst. But the fact that Democrats fell lockstep into the GOP’s game plan confirms how unsure they remain of their ability to challenge Republicans on national security and Iraq. Will such insecurities be on greater display in a Democratic-led Congress, even if they owe their majorities to moderate and conservative Democrats who carry red districts and states on Tuesday?”
Good question John. Hopefully the answer is no. Finding areas where Dems can work across the aisle with the GOP is a good idea and it’s good Pelosi won’t run the House like Tom Delay My Jail Sentence did. Still, a strong backbone, a little stubborness, and telling the right-wing media that they’re right-wing and exhibit lapdog tendencies can’t be all that bad for Democrats. Can it? Uh oh, there’s that Democrat insecurity again.