It’s a well-known pattern for many Democrats, Harry Reid included, from Red or Purple states: talk a conservative game back home, make speeches on fiscal sobriety, and roll over for liberal leadership when it comes to actual votes. Usually they get away with it when the public is not so engaged, the legislation is not so controversial, and Republicans blur the lines by defecting to vote with the bulk of Democrats. But here the public was vigilant, the legislation was noxious both in substance and in process, and Republicans held the line in their unanimous opposition to ObamaCare. So now these “centrists” are finding it hard to hide and explain why they threw in their lot with Reid-Pelosi-Obama. They may regret having “blown their cover” as faux fiscal conservatives for a bill that probably won’t pass and that is now the rallying point for an energized opposition.
The word ‘may’ has no business being in that paragraph. ‘Will’ is a much better choice. James Taranto has more. The bottom line for all of this is that we’re in the middle of yet another realignment – third in ten years, really. Realignment One was post 9/11, and represented the perfectly respectable and natural desire of the American people to have, when hit, people in office who would hit back. Realignment Two was 2006-2008, and represented a perfect storm of new campaign technologies meeting a mass centrist reaction to the previous alignment meeting a lack of enthusiasm among the rank-and-file of the current ruling party*. Realignment Three is this one, and it’s centrists learning the difference between Bad and Worse.
And so it goes, and so it goes: the next Realignment will probably involve the existing, old liberal Democratic leadership being purged-by-retirement and being replaced with a generation who did not grow up being taught (for example) that the conquest of South Vietnam was somehow a good thing**. When that starts happening, we’ll see how the political parties react. Probably by writing books about how X or Y is inevitable…
*Note that the war was pretty much irrelevant in all of this, except for draining money and energy from antiwar progressives. In 2007 the Democrats were content to yell loudly and leave Bush in peace to win it for them; and in 2009 they pretty much went with the GOP plan because, well, we’re the go-to guys when it comes to hitting back.
**They will have instead not been taught about the conquest of South Vietnam at all, but that’s a worry for my kid’s generation. I’ll settle for watching the Vietnam War activist contingent all die of old age.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.