Which House Democrats Opposed Health Reform, Clean Energy, Tobacco Regulation, and the Stimulus All?
by Nathan Empsall, Sun Nov 08, 2009 at 06:14:34 PM EST
I can understand Democrats who don't support the stimulus. I can understand Democrats who don't support health care reform or the public option. I can even understand Democrats who don't support clean energy legislation. I cannot abide Democrats who oppose all three. I am not a purist and do not appreciate ideological litmus tests, but a politician must have at least some reason for belonging to their party and movement of choice if that label is to mean anything at all to their constituents.
Earlier today, Jerome posted a list of the 39 Democrats who voted against the Affordable Health Care for America Act last night. I've compared the roll calls, and 24 of those Democrats also voted against the American Clean Energy and Security Act in June. Five of those 24 represent districts won by President Obama last November. Additionally, four of the 24 voted no on the final stimulus vote in January and four opposed April's overhaul of tobacco regulations. Only one man voted against all four pieces of legislation: freshman Rep. Bobby Bright (AL-2), whose district went to McCain by 26%. The full breakdown is below the jump.
We can't expect our Democratic majorities to vote in lock-step on every vote. Moderate Americans need a home, and with the Republican Party having abandoned its conservative-moderate coalition over the past two decades in order to become a more "pure" party of the fringe, we Democrats find more of those moderates joining our own party. These Americans need to have a voice in Congress too, and their Congresspersons need to be able to vote their own conscience. If not all Democratic voters are progressives, than we must expect and accept that not all of the Democrats they elect will be progressives, either.
Blue Dogs and other moderates should be expected and welcomed - but only to a point. They may not be progressives, but they are Democrats, and we have to ask them: as a moderate not fully represented by either party, why have you chosen to join ours? If they can't articulate a sincere reason, then we have a problem. If they vote against some of the party's major initiatives, fine, but if they vote against all of the party's major initiatives, then we have a problem. If nothing unites one member to the next, then what's the point in calling them a party?
People need to listen to their consciences. If your conscience tells you to vote against your party on a particular issue, then by all means, do so. But your conscience should also tell you to join the party with which you agree a majority of the time, or to not join a party at all.
Below the fold, the full list of 24, with special attention to three names: Charlie Melancon, Walt Minnick, and Dennis Kucinich. Minnick, in fact, was the prompt for this entire post. He is my Congressman, but while I was excited for his election in 2008, his twin nay votes on health insurance reform and cap-and-trade mean I will not support him again. As things stand, he's no different than a Republican. Again, I'm not a litmus test kind of guy and even hold some conservative positions myself, but Minnick takes things too far. If he reverses his post-conference vote on just one of those two bills then I will probably change my mind, but he hasn't given me any reason to hold my breath.