Duck! and Gather

Archive for November 28th, 2006

The answer to the question posed at the end of the last blog posting is: money.

That Chicago Tribune article on Rahm Emanuel explains Emanuel’s approach for picking the 50 Democratic challengers for the midterm elections earlier this month: “[Emanuel] had one criterion: people who could win.” What did Emanuel think was the most important attribute of a winning candidate? The article is unambiguous:

Emanuel and his staff judged a candidate almost entirely by how much money he or she brought in. If the candidate proved a good fundraiser, the DCCC [Democratic Party national committee] would provide support, advertising and strategic advice. If not, the committee would shut him or her out.

So there you have it. There’s your answer to the meaning of the great Democratic victory of 2006. The cynical Republicans of 1994 led by Newt Gingrich spoke of a “Contract with America” which included substantive terms upon which the hypocritical Republicans of 2006 were nicely skewered.

But that was 1994 when politicians still thought that they had to stand for something. This is 2006. And in 2006, Rahm Emanuel didn’t so much as even bother with a “contract” or “substance”. Instead, he cut right to the chase: In America, it’s all about the money.

When you see that, then the conflicting news and political opinion that has followed in the wake of the Democratic triumph of 2006 becomes clear. Following that Democratic victory, all sides attempted to explain it. For example, conservatives argued that the midterms were a repudiation of George Bush, but not of conservatism. They point to winning Democratic challengers who espouse traditionally conservatve positions.

For another example, I read a liberal op-ed in the New York Times over the past month claiming that the Democratic triumph represented a victory for economic populism (ie. pro-labor). Again, the article pointed to populist-leaning winning Democratic challengers.

The point here is that anyone who cares to look at the winning challengers can find in those challengers whatever issue he or she is seeking and holds dear to heart. This is because those winning challengers were not selected on the basis of any substantive issues. Accordingly, amongst all of them, odds are that most every position on most every issue of importance to this country can be found.

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Here is your Democratic class of 2006: a random collection of Americans the only common thread among them being that each knows how to make a buck.

Is it just me or does anyone else think that this beautiful nation is f&*ked up beyond all recognition? (Excuse me while I go check on our gold investment.)

Another thing that struck me reading that Chicago Tribune piece on Rahm Emanuel concerns the top-down, hierarchal nature of the political parties. Well, I suppose that surprised me only because I don’t follow politics much.

I know, I know. That claim may seem dubious given that I’ve made these predictions about the Democrats and Republicans, and that I’ve blogged about them a bit. But actually, I am interested in politics only from a high-level historical vantage point. That is, while I have views on the historical purposes of each major party, I don’t much care to get into the minutiae of how they organize themselves.

But this article on Emanuel went into detail on just that sort of information. What it said was that not only did Emanuel lead the Democrat House efforts for the elections earlier this month, he actually personally selected all 50 of the Democrat House challengers.

This is in contrast with the challengers emerging via local processes. The article gives an example of a district in Illinois in which there was a viable Democrat challenger who had narrowly lost in 2004. Absent Emanuel’s efforts, that challenger would have run again. But the article explains that Emanuel poured national Democrat funds and connections into the local Democrat primaries for that district, and managed to get his candidate — Tammy Duckworth — nominated.

What this means is that the challengers selected by Emanuel did not necessarily reflect the concerns or issues of their own local districts. Instead, they reflected national Democratic concerns as defined by Emanuel.

Realize that the reason the founders created so many House seats, and put those seats up for election every two years, is that they envisioned the House reflecting the current mood of the nation. That mood, the founders reasoned, could best be polled by having “freshly elected” representatives from every corner of the country reporting on the concerns and views of each corner. Collectively, these views would define the national mood.

But Emanuel’s efforts make clear that this is not how the Democratic party approaches this nation. (Presumably, neither do the Republicans.)

Of course, that may not be so troublesome if the Democrats were pursuing some critical national agenda that affects each and every corner of the nation. Say, like the epidemic of obesity and degenerative disease that does affect every district in this nation. So maybe what Emanuel was doing was picking 50 tried and true soldiers in a upcoming national struggle.

Think again. The article makes clear that, in picking his 50 challengers, Emanuel had only one criterion on his litmus test. That is, it didn’t matter what those 50 challengers believed (beyond “opportunity, fairness for all”), so long as each satisfied this single attribute defined by Emanuel.

Can you guess what that attribute was? (Hint: read the tag line of this site or just go to the next blog posting.)

for the money has gone too far

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