Topic(s): Democrats | Comments Off on New Left Review — Mike Davis — THE DEMOCRATS AFTER NOVEMBER

Was the November 2006 midterm election an epic political massacre or
just a routine midterm brawl? In the week after the Democratic
victory, partisan spinmeisters offered opinions as contradictory as
those of the protagonists in Rashomon, Kurosawa’s famously
relativistic account of rape and murder. On the liberal side, Bob
Herbert rejoiced in his New York Times column that the `fear-induced
anomaly’ of the `George W. Bush era’ had `all but breathed its last’,
while Paul Waldman (Baltimore Sun) announced `a big step in the
nation’s march to the left’, and George Lakoff (CommonDreams.org)
celebrated a victory for `progressive values’ and `factually
accurate, values-based framing’ (whatever that may mean). [1] On the
conservative side, the National Review’s Lawrence Kudlow refused to
concede even the obvious bloodstains on the steps of Congress: `Look
at Blue Dog conservative Democratic victories and look at Northeast
liberal gop defeats. The changeover in the House may well be a
conservative victory, not a liberal one.’ William Safire, although
disgusted that the `loser left’ had finally won an election,
dismissed the result as an `average midterm loss’. [2]
But Safire doth spin too much. Although the Democratic victory in
2006 was not quite the deluge that the Republicans led by Newt
Gingrich, Dick Armey and Tom DeLay unleashed in 1994 (see Table 1),
it was anything but an `average’ result. Despite the comparatively
low electoral salience of the economy, the opposition’s classic
midterm issue, the Democrats managed to exactly reverse the majority
in the House (the worst massacre of Republicans since 1974) and
reclaim the Senate by one seat. Indeed, the Senate gained its first
self-declared `socialist’, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent
who caucuses with the Democrats.
Democrats, for the first time ever, did not lose a single incumbent
or open House seat. Independent voters (26 per cent of the
electorate) swung to the Democrats by an almost two-to-one ratio—`the
biggest margin ever measured among independents since the first exit
polls in 1976′. [3] With the strongest female leadership in American
history, they outpolled Republicans among women 55 to 45 per cent in
House races; but more surprisingly, they also managed to reduce the
gop’s famous lead among white men (a staggering 63 per cent in the
1994 House contests) to 53 per cent. [4] According to veteran
pollster Stanley Greenberg, one out of five Bush voters moved into
the blue column; but none so dramatically as the electoral market
segment of `privileged men’ (college-educated and affluent) where the
gop’s 2004 margin of 14 per cent was transformed into a slim
Democratic majority. Although the slippage among the gop hardcore—
evangelicals and white rural and exurban voters—was slight, the party
of the moral majority declined 6 per cent among devout Catholics,
while angry Latinos, recoiling from the gop grass roots’ embrace of
vigilantes and border walls, murdered Republicans in several
otherwise close contests in the West. [5]
In state races, the Democrats demonstrated even more traction. On
election eve, the gop boasted a majority of governorships (28 to 22)
and a slight lead in control of state legislative chambers (49 to 47,
with 2 tied). [6] Contrasted to overwhelming Democratic dominance in
state legislatures before 1994, when Republicans controlled only 8
states, this rough parity—according to John Hood, the president of a
North Carolina conservative think-tank—has been `one of the most
significant and lasting products of the Republican Revolution’. But
it is a legacy now lost as the Democrats have exactly reversed the
partisan ratio of governors (leaving Republican executives in only 3
of the 10 most populous states), while winning control of 8 more
state chambers (now 56 Democrat versus 41 Republican, with 1
tied). `What’s worse for the gop’, Hood points out, is that the
majority parties in state legislatures will control congressional
redistricting in the wake of the rapidly approaching 2010 Census. `If
Democrats retain their current edge, the us House will get a lot more
blue.’ [7]
Regionally, Republican candidates were decimated in the gop’s
original heartland, New England—including notoriously conservative
New Hampshire, where Democrats took over the legislature for the
first time since the Civil War—and the Mid-Atlantic states, leading
one prominent conservative to lament that `the Northeast is on its
way to being lost forever to the gop’. [8] Democrats also made
surprising gains in the Midwest and the `red’ interior West,
especially in Colorado where hi-tech money leveraged a growing Latino
vote. [9] Even in the South, the Democrats managed to arrest their
long-term decline and claw back 19 seats in state legislatures.
(Despite the prevalent myth of a solidly Republican South, the
Democrats still retain a 54 per cent majority in Dixie state houses.)
In Kansas—Tom Frank’s icon state of voter false consciousness [11]—
Democrat Nancy Boyda defeated incumbent Jim Ryun (the former Olympic
track star) in a congressional district that Bush had carried by 20
percentage points two years earlier. Popular Democratic Governor
Kathleen Sebelius was easily re-elected, while the other top state
offices, the lieutenant and attorney generalships, were won by former
Republicans running as Democrats—a startling reverse in the trend of
political conversion. The state’s foremost cultural conservative, the
fanatically anti-abortion attorney general Phil Kline, was
pulverized: receiving barely one-third of the vote in the usually
Republican exurbs of Kansas City (Johnson County). [12] Nothing
seemed particularly `wrong’ with Kansas in the fall of 2006.
Such results convincingly refute the legend of invincibility that had
been woven around Karl Rove’s signature strategy of intensive base
mobilization (usually stimulated by hysteria over some imperilled
Christian value) and massive negative advertising (usually
perpetuating some outright lie or slander against the opposition).
According to Stanley Greenberg, `the Republican Party has ended up
with the most negative image in memory, lower than Watergate’. But
the Democratic pollster (writing in collaboration with Robert
Borosage and James Carville) was adamant that Republican losses are
not necessarily Democratic gains. `The Democratic Party also ended up
being viewed more negatively during this election than in 2004 . . .
Democrats have only modest advantages—and are chosen by fewer than 50
per cent on such key attributes as being “on your side”, “future-
oriented” and “for families”.’ [13]
Thomas Edsall agrees that `Democratic triumphs are fragile’ and warns
that they are `based far more on widespread dissatisfaction with the
war in Iraq than on the fundamental partisan and ideological shift
that was apparent in 1980 and 1994 Republican breakthroughs’. [14]
Partisan registration remains closer to parity (38 per cent Democrat
versus 37 per cent Republican) than at any time since the late
nineteenth century, and control of the House is arbitrated by swings
of just a few percentage points: the reason the Republicans have been
so keen to undertake controversial midterm redistrictings and
gerrymanders to buttress their power. [15]
The victors, moreover, share no consensus about the direction of
their party. In contrast to 1994, when the gop was rapturously united
around the programme of its congressional `revolution’, Democratic
ideologues at the end of 2006 were fundamentally split. While
progressives like Ezra Klein (American Prospect) fretted that Blue
Dogs and dlc-ers were ready `to lock liberals out of the halls of
power’, Christopher Hayes (Nation) applauded the `new Democratic
populism’, and Michael Tomasky (American Prospect editor) argued that
the party was cleverly moving to the centre and to the left
simultaneously (`the party managed to sustain this left–centre
coalition and render the distinctions between the two groups less
important’). [16] Hillary Clinton and her chorus of sycophantic
voices boasted of the miracle of the `vital, dynamic centre’, while
other Democrats pessimistically agreed with Safire’s acid prediction
that the party was headed towards civil war.
In any event, the Democrats led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
have two years to consolidate their enhanced electoral support and
effectively arm Hillary Clinton for a very nasty brawl with either
John McCain or Rudy Giuliani in 2008. [17] (Neither of the two
mystery phenomena—Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama—
are likely to survive the brutal scrutiny of the presidential
primaries, although they may be recycled as vice-presidential
timber.) [18] The 110th Congress will give the Democrats
extraordinary opportunities to repeal the reactionary agendas
established in 1994 by the `Republican Revolution’ and in 2001–02 by
the `War on Terrorism’. But the Democrats will be torn between two
categorical imperatives: on the one hand, to sink as many Republicans
as possible with George Bush’s ship of state; and, on the other hand,
to reclaim the mystic `centre’ and the support of corporate
lobbyists. If the recent past is any guide, a seriously populist and
ideologically combative Democratic politics is totally incompatible
with the Clintonite project of making the Democrats the
representatives par excellence of the knowledge economy and corporate
More specifically, the new Democratic majority must test its
ambiguous promises of crusading populism and inclusive centrism
against the recalcitrant realities of the four mega-issues that will
inevitably dominate the new Congress: (1) the Iraq fiasco and the War
on Terrorism; (2) the legacy of Republican congressional corruption
and corporate fraud; (3) urgent, unmet social needs (including the
reconstruction of the Gulf Coast) in the context of the huge Bush
deficits; and (4) the growing unrest over the social costs of
economic globalization. In each case, the hopeful expectations of
last November’s voters for real changes in Washington are likely to
be betrayed by the higher imperatives of electing Hillary and
assuaging big business.
Unlike the 2004 presidential election and the controversy over the
importance of `values voters’, there was nothing equivocal about the
key issue that mobilized a majority of voters in November 2006. With
the housing-bubble economy still puttering along (although a real-
estate-induced recession may not be far away), and with Mexican- and
gay-bashing failing to ignite significant national backlashes, the
defining issue was the looming defeat of the us intervention in Iraq.
Six out of ten voters told pollsters that they were upset at Bush’s
management of the war—the spiralling carnage in Baghdad and the
paralysis in the White House—and had voted accordingly. Editorial
page punditry, likewise, was united with exit-poll surveys in
agreeing that Iraq was the Archimedean lever that had shifted
independent voters so massively toward the Democrats. [19]
Conservative ideologues and business lobbyists, meanwhile, were
appalled to see their domestic agendas upstaged by the Frankenstein
monster of Iraq. [20] Even that `wholly-owned subsidiary of the
Republican Party’ (as columnist Rosa Brooks has called it), the
military electorate, has begun to bolt the stable: Military Times
polls show the percentage of soldiers identifying as Republicans
declining from 60 per cent in 2004 to 46 per cent in late 2006. Only
slightly more than one-third of gis currently approve of Bush’s
handling of the war. [21]
After twelve years of arrogant majority rule in Congress, the gop has
seemingly foundered on the contradictions of the new imperialism. Or
has it? The irony of the anti-war vote, of course, was that it
elected Democrats who are under no obligation to actually end the
barbarous us occupation. Writing shortly after the election, Tom
Hayden praised the citizen groups in Chicago and elsewhere who had
fought to make the election a plebiscite on an increasingly unpopular
war, but warned presciently that `neither party is prepared to accept
that the war is a lost cause’ and that the Iraq Study Group report
would offer the Democratic leadership common ground with
congressional Republicans `to eliminate “immediate withdrawal” as an
option’. [22]
Despite majority public belief that Iraq is a `bad war’ and the
troops should come home, the current Democratic strategy is to snipe
from the sidelines at Bush’s ruinous policies while avoiding any
decisive steps to actually end the occupation. Indeed, from the
standpoint of cold political calculus, the Democrats have no more
interest in helping Bush extract himself from the morass of Iraq than
Bush has had in actually capturing or killing Osama bin Laden.
Accordingly, as the Los Angeles Times recently reported, `Pelosi and
the Democrats plan no dramatic steps to influence the course of the
war’. [23] Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean, who once
claimed to be the very incarnation of the anti-war movement, now
cautions that the most the public can expect from the new majority
is `some restraint on the president’. [24] Likewise Pelosi has
renounced from the outset the Democrats’ one actual power over White
House war policy: `We will have oversight. We will not cut off
funding’. [25]
The real Democratic opposition to the war (John Murtha’s highly
publicized defection aside) has come from the ranks of the Black
Caucus, whose members—including John Lewis, Charles Rangel and
Barbara Lee—are also the chief instigators of the recently organized
Out of Iraq Caucus, chaired by Los Angeles’s fiery Maxine Waters. The
substantial overlap between the anti-war caucus (which also includes
ten or so Latino representatives led by New York’s outspoken José
Serrano) and the House membership most strongly committed to urban
social programmes is expressive of a fundamental political trend that
the media has all but ignored: the widespread consciousness in
communities of colour that the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan
(costing more than $2 billion per week) are stealing critical
resources from human needs in poorer inner cities and older suburbs,
as well as putting immigrant communities under the shadow of
This new equation between urban needs, immigrant civil rights and
anti-imperialism could become a potent counter-agenda in American
politics if it were reinforced by grass-roots activism and consistent
protest. But here is the rub. Although the Out of Iraq Caucus has
grown to 74 members (more than one-fifth of Democratic House
membership) in the wake of the November vote, its clout is
considerably diminished by the absence of a national anti-war
movement, as well as by the failure of the major progressive trade
unions such as seiu, here-unite and the aft to make withdrawal a
political priority.
Indeed the electoral landscape in November was shaped by the central
paradox of soaring anti-war sentiment without a visible anti-war
movement. In contrast to 1968 and 1972—or even, for that matter, 1916
and 1938—voter opposition to intervention overseas was not buttressed
by an organized peace movement capable of holding politicians’ feet
to the fire or linking opposition to the war to a deeper critique of
foreign policy (in this case, the War on Terrorism). The broad,
spontaneous anti-war movement of winter 2003—whose grass-roots energy
filled the void of Democratic opposition to Bush’s invasion—was first
absorbed by the Dean campaign in spring 2004 and then politically
dissolved into the Kerry candidacy. The 2004 Democratic Convention,
which should have been a forum for wide-ranging attacks on Republican
foreign and domestic policies, was transformed into an obnoxious
patriotic celebration of John Kerry as the Brahmin Rambo.
Although many activists hoped that an autonomous peace movement would
re-emerge from the ruins of the Kerry campaign, there have been only
a few regional pockets of sustained protest. One of Howard Dean’s
principal assignments as national Democratic chair (and the major
reason for his selection) has been to keep anti-war forces
immobilized within a diffuse and hypocritical Anybody But Bush
coalition. By making Bush and his political parents Cheney and
Rumsfeld the paramount issues, Democratic sophistry has avoided a
real debate on Iraq. Leading Democrats may bash the President for the
chaos in Baghdad, but none of them has offered a critique of American
responsibility for the larger anarchy that is rapidly engulfing a
vast arc of countries from Pakistan to Sudan. There has been no
debate on the Bush administration’s green light for the Israeli
massacre of Lebanese civilians or, more recently, on the cia’s
sinister role in instigating the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia and
the us air strikes there. The Israeli right, meanwhile, knows that
Hillary Clinton will be as intransigently supportive of its policies
in Gaza and on the West Bank as any Texas fundamentalist eagerly
awaiting Armageddon.
Indeed the Democratic leadership—the Black Caucus and a few notable
progressives aside—has exploited domestic resentment against Bush
policies in Iraq to consolidate, not debunk, the underlying
Washington consensus about the War on Terrorism. Whereas a national
anti-war movement would presumably have linked the apocalypse in Iraq
with looming catastrophe in Afghanistan and a new regional war in the
Horn of Africa, the Democratic platform, in contrast, reaffirmed
commitment to the war against Islamists as part of a larger programme
of expanding, not reducing, global counter-insurgency. `Bring the
troops home now’ was not a Democratic plank, but doubling the size of
the Special Forces `to destroy terrorist networks’ and increasing
spending on homeland anti-terrorism are centrepieces of the
Democrats’ `New Direction for America’ (a collection of sound bites
and slogans that offers a pale shadow to Gingrich’s robust
1994 `Contract with America’). [26]
The Democratic leadership likewise has deliberately avoided a debate
on the constitutional implications of the Patriot Act; not a single
prominent Democrat has proposed the straightforward rollback of the
totalitarian powers claimed by the presidency since 9/11. Indeed
Hillary Clinton has signalled that she favours imprisonment without
trial and even the use of torture in certain circumstances. Speaker
Pelosi, meanwhile, has emphasized that the chief Democratic goals in
the 110th Congress will be, first, to pick the uncontroversial, low-
hanging fruit of mainstream reform (minimum wage, prescriptions,
student loans and so on), then move quickly to pass an `innovation
agenda’ for hi-tech industries. Foreign policy debates in the House—
thanks to the hawkish counterweight of more than 100 New Democrats
and Blue Dogs—will not reach beyond the bipartisan assumptions of the
Baker–Hamilton Plan or whatever new, coercive strategy for
Palestinian national self-liquidation is proposed by Condoleezza
What then has the anti-war vote actually won? At the end of the day,
public disillusionment with the messianic politics of the neo-
Conservatives has paved the way for a `Realist’ restoration under the
aegis of the Baker–Hamilton plan that reconciles the foreign-policy
establishments of Bush Senior and Clinton. The bloodbath in Iraq has
opened every sarcophagus on the Potomac, disgorging a palsied army of
ancient secretaries of state and national security advisors
(Scowcroft, Eagleburger, Brzezinski and, of course, the chief mummy,
Kissinger himself) eager to lecture Congress on `rational’ approaches
to imposing American will on the rest of the world. Hillary Clinton,
of course, is the Queen of the Realists (except when it conflicts
with Israeli interests), and the new Democratic majority in the House
is unlikely to stray very far from the already manifest script of her
2008 campaign. In future debates with Rudy Giuliani or John McCain
(who has recently appointed himself saviour of `victory’ in Iraq),
Hillary is poised to be a hard-muscled gi Jane, parrying every macho
gesture with even tougher stances on al-Qaeda, Iran, Palestine and
The silver lining, if it exists, is that the Democrats in Congress,
with the Black Caucus and its allies lobbying for withdrawal, are
more likely to be swayed by public anger as insurgency and civil war
in Iraq continue to exhaust the resources of the Occupation. In a
desperate gambit to appease Sunnis and defend a zone of control in
Baghdad, the Bush administration is currently weighing an all-out
assault (`surge’ is its military precondition) on the slum militias
of Muqtada al-Sadr. A new war with the Mahdi Army (hugely enlarged
and better trained since its first battles with American troops in
2004) would open another Pandora’s box, risking unsustainable
American casualties and an explosive response from the entire Shiite
world. (Inevitable us air strikes on Sadr City would produce grim
scenes reminiscent of the Israeli bombardment of southern Beirut.)
If Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates sanction this ultimate
escalation, they have a good chance of bringing some macho Democrats
aboard (although they will almost certainly lose some leading
Republicans). Senate leader Harry Reid has already demonstrated his
epic confusion by endorsing and then quickly retracting support for
the proposed `surge’ of 35,000 more us troops into Baghdad. In the
Senate, the hawkish Joe Lieberman, who was re-elected as an
independent after his defeat in the Democratic primary, will be a
powerful swing vote in favour of escalation. Pelosi, at the time of
writing, is considering resistance to new monies for the `surge’, but
will not tamper with funding for existing troop levels.
What stance Pelosi and Reid ultimately assume, and how hard they
actually push for the `phased withdrawal’ proposed in their six-plank
November programme, will be largely determined by the resurgence—or
not—of the anti-war movement. Last November’s voters certainly had
fewer illusions than their candidates about the hopelessness of the
situation (according to exit polls, `only about one in five voters
say they think that either the President or the Democrats have a
clear plan for Iraq’), [27] and public opinion may again find
volcanic alternatives to an impotent Congress. Indeed, only mass
protest, unfettered from theRealpolitik of Howard Dean and
MoveOn.org, can shift the balance of power in Congress towards a
decisive debate on withdrawal.
One of the most savoury moments of the November vote was the election
of Nick Lampson to Tom DeLay’s old seat in the 22nd District of
Texas. Lampson—a school teacher who was formerly the Democratic
congressman from Galveston—had been one of the principal victims of
DeLay’s infamous 2003 redistricting of Texas: an unprecedented mid-
decade gerrymander that was made possible by the massive and
illegally laundered corporate donations that the House Majority
Leader had deployed to elect a Republican majority in the Texas
Legislature the year before. Thanks to the courage of a local grand
jury and Travis County da Ronnie Earle, DeLay was indicted for
perjury in September 2005, and soon afterward, under federal
investigation for his close ties to corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff,
he was forced to resign his majority leadership, then his
congressional seat.
DeLay, of course, was the Robespierre of the 1994 `Republican
Revolution’, perhaps the most ruthless crusader for one-party
government in us history. As one of the co-founders of the so-
called `K Street Project’, [28] along with Rick Santorum and Grover
Norquist, he was notorious for coercing huge campaign contributions
from corporate lobbyists (as well as promises to hire only
Republicans) in exchange for allowing them to directly write gop
legislation. As Majority Leader (or `Hammer’ as he was known to
Republicans as well as Democrats), he imposed unprecedented
ideological discipline on the gop (even defying a White House attempt
to give a small tax break to low-income families) while slashing at
every vestige of bipartisanship and collegial civility. In
partnership with the infamous Abramoff, he was also the advocate of
the sleaziest causes in the Capitol, ranging from support for
indentured labour in the sweatshop paradise of the Northern Marianas
(a us territory without the protection of us labour laws) to under-
the-table favours for a giant Russian corporation that in turn kicked
back money to DeLay-related causes. [29]
After more than a decade of being roadkill in the wake of DeLay’s
sleaze-financed campaign juggernaut (with Karl Rove as hit-and-run
driver), the Democrats now have the opportunity to begin to roll back
the Republican Revolution—which is to say, to break up the corrupt
flows of money and power personified by DeLay and the K Street
Project. Congress, of course, has always been about `pay to play’ and
the lubrication of politics by lobbyists, but never before 1994 had
the Republicans employed such stark coercion to impose themselves as
the obligatory rather than simply the natural party of business. (In
part, this was a reaction to Democratic successes in attracting
support from bicoastal, new-economy sectors like entertainment,
media, software, bio-tech and gaming.)
The exhilarating promise of the November victory is that a cadre of
veteran liberal Democrats—Charles Rangel (Ways and Means), Barney
Frank (Financial Services), Henry Waxman (Government Reform), David
Obey (Appropriations), Ike Skelton (Armed Forces), and John
Rockefeller iv (Senate Intelligence Committee)—will use their hard-
won committee chairmanships to mount sweeping inquisitions of the
Himalayan corruption and collusion of the DeLay years. With subpoena
power finally in the hands of the opposition, the interlocking
special interests that dominate the Bush administration will face the
comprehensive exposure and accounting that they managed to elude in
the aftermath of the Enron scandal. Indeed, as the skeletons come
tumbling out of the Republican closet, and the public realizes how
vast the extent of graft and fraud in the occupation of Iraq, the non-
reconstruction of New Orleans, `homeland security’ boondoggles like
the phony Bioshield programme, and the subsidization of the
insurance, pharmaceutical and oil industries—then voters will
overwhelmingly endorse a new regime of government oversight, renewed
environmental and health-and-safety regulation, and serious campaign
finance reform.
This is the real opportunity to which the Democrats could rise in
theory, but there is little chance that their leadership will
actually allow congressional probes to follow money and corruption
all the way upstream. Progressive hopes that Congress might return to
the heroic days of Thurman Arnold’s anti-trust investigations of the
late 1930s, or the Watergate Committee’s exposés of Republican law-
breaking in the 1970s, are pipe dreams in face of Pelosi’s insistence
that Democratic watchdogs be tightly leashed, in the interests of
building `centrism’. She has already extracted humiliating loyalty
oaths from the two senior Black Democrats most likely to rock the
bipartisan boat: forcing John Conyers (chair of the Judiciary
Committee) to recant his advocacy of impeachment (`the country does
not want or need any more paralysed partisan government’, he said
recently) and making Charles Rangel, who has hammered Dick Cheney
like no one else in Congress, sing a chorus or two of the company
song (`I have to take a leadership view’, he promised). [30] Even
more diabolically, she has put Henry Waxman (`White House Enemy No.
1′) in charge of ensuring (in the words of analyst Brian Friel) that
congressional oversight does not `open Democrats up to charges of
obstructionism and extremism in the next campaign cycle’. [31]
In the absence of relentless pressure from labour and environmental
groups, the Democrats are unlikely to discomfort powerful business
interests that they would otherwise delight in wooing away from the
Republicans. Certainly there will be some reckoning with Halliburton
and contract fraud in Iraq, and perhaps the perjury trial of Scooter
Libby (Cheney’s indicted chief of staff) will be spiced with new
revelations from Rockefeller and his Senate Intelligence Committee
about the administration’s lies and fabricated evidence on the road
to Baghdad; but a widening circle of exposure will meet increasing
resistance, not simply from Republicans fighting for their lives, but
from Democrats trying to protect their renewed ties to the very
corporate groups at the core of corruption and scandal. The
opportunity to expose and reform will be counter-balanced at each
step by the temptation to make deals and collect campaign
contributions. As the Economist cynically but accurately put it, `the
new house chieftains do not see themselves as revolutionaries. Their
goal, after all, is not to enact a specific agenda, but to prepare
the ground for the presidential election of 2008.’ [32]
Because corporate lobbyists are scared of the subpoena power wielded
by Rangel and Waxman (however constrained by Pelosi), they will
happily seek refuge in Democratic campaign committees. The fusion
between Corporate America and the Republican Party appears less
permanent and unassailable than it did a year ago and, as
BusinessWeek predicted shortly after the election, `companies will be
rushing to stock up on lobbyists with Democratic credentials’. [33]
The Democratic leadership, for its part, is brazenly cruising for
cash. The next election cycle will be the most expensive in history,
and Hillary Clinton is unlikely to relish congressional hearings into
the crimes of the pharmaceutical, oil and military-construction
industries that could unleash massive corporate retaliation against
her in 2008. From a strategic perspective, it makes far more sense
for the Democrats to concentrate congressional exposés on a handful
of Administration villains, while quietly rebuilding parity of
representation on K Street, where many of the winged monkeys are
reputedly rejoicing at their recent liberation from DeLay, the wicked
witch of Texas.
As BusinessWeek reassured nervous readers, any tendency toward
populist excess in the new Congress would be counteracted by the
millionaires, corporate lawyers and hi-tech entrepreneurs in the
ranks of Democracy itself, especially the fervently pro-business New
Democrat Coalition (the House arm of the Democratic Leadership
Council) chaired by Rep. Ellen Tauscher of California. `In a narrowly
divided Democratic House, Tauscher’s band of about 40 economic
moderates would wield extraordinary power to influence tax, trade and
budget policy.’ Moreover, ceos worried about possible indictment or
evil corporations fearful of losing their lucrative federal contracts
could always appeal to K Street’s new wonder, George Crawford, who as
Nancy Pelosi’s former chief of staff has positioned himself to be
Washington’s chief deal-maker. (`In recent months,’ reveals
BusinessWeek, `he has added Exxon Mobil Corp. and Amgen Inc. to his
client roster.’) [34]
Beyond the uncontroversial agenda of the `100 hours’, few of the
promised reforms that have attracted progressive voters to the
Democrats are likely to make any headway against the coming hurricane
of corporate lobbying and political fundraising organized by Crawford
and other Democratic insiders. Energy policy, for example, has been
one of the party’s highest-profile issues, and Senator Barbara Boxer
(new chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee) has rallied
a broad coalition of environmentalists around tough emissions and
fuel economy standards for automobiles. But as journalist Richard
Simon recently reported in the Los Angeles Times, the Detroit
automakers and Texas oil men are surprisingly unworried. `We’re
confident that there are plenty of Democrats who know and understand
us’, a leader of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association
told him. [35]
The `understanding Democrats’ in the 110th Congress will include
senators from energy-exporting states, such as Mary Landrieu
(Louisiana) and Jeff Bingaman (New Mexico), as well as the powerful
chair of the House Energy Committee, John Dingell (Michigan), who
will fight to defend every last molecule of carbon dioxide emitted by
a Ford Explorer or Chevy Suburban. Nancy Pelosi may take away some of
the oil industry’s more outrageous tax breaks, but Barbara Boxer will
never take away rich Americans’ suvs or reduce their dependence on
foreign oil. No matter how many millions of people may be terrified
by global warming’s `inconvenient truth’, there will always be
Democrats to help filibuster any cap on greenhouse emissions or vote
to preserve the oil industry’s special entitlements.
In contrast to most European parliamentary systems, the American
party system is only partially `nationalized’, and regional and local
agendas preserve exceptional salience in the operation of Congress.
The 2006 election is a spectacular case in point: whether or not the
electorate actually shifted left, congressional clout—in one of the
most dramatic geographical power-shifts in memory—moved back to the
Blue coasts. Texas, Florida, Virginia and Georgia (whose suburbs were
the strategic pivots of the 1994 Republican revolution) are out, and
California and New York (the pariahs of the age of Bush) are in. Or,
to be more precise, Democrats representing the golden triangle of
Wall Street, Hollywood and Silicon Valley now rule Congress.
Although California and New York (together with Massachusetts and
Washington) hegemonize the knowledge economy and the us export of
technologies, entertainment and financial services, they have become
cash cows for regionally redistributive Republican policies since
1994. California is perhaps the extreme case. For fifty years, from
Lend-Lease until the fall of the Berlin Wall, California’s aerospace
and electronics industries had been irrigated by an aqueduct of
defence dollars; since 1990 at the latest, fiscal subsidies have
switched direction and California now exports its federal taxes to
heavily Republican states. Whereas California once received $1.15 in
federal expenditure for every dollar it paid in federal taxes, it now
gets back only 79 cents. (The inequities are worse than depicted in
Table 5, since California and New York are also the largest ports of
entry for new immigrants and finance services that should be federal
mandates.) Partly as a result of this shortfall, the world’s premier
science-based regional economy is supported by scandalously decayed
physical, social and educational (at least, primary and secondary
school) infrastructures.
But the Democrats will have to fight themselves, and not just
Republicans, if they want to reverse the relative decline of federal
expenditure, especially in the ageing cities of the Bluest states.
While the new Congressional leadership, especially Pelosi and
Clinton, have individually lobbied with great ferocity for their own
districts’ and states’ needs, they have collectively tied the party’s
hands with a cargo-cultish commitment to deficit reduction and fiscal
frugality. Although Iraq and political corruption were the most
important issues amongst voters, that ancient Republican battle cry—
`fiscal responsibility’—was the programmatic centrepiece of the
Democrats’ `New Direction for America’.
Despite claims in the Nation and elsewhere that the Democrats are now
channelling their `inner populist’, the party remains completely in
thrall to `Rubinomics’—the fervent emphasis on budgetary discipline
rather than social spending that characterized the reign of former
Goldman Sachs ceo Robert Rubin as Clinton’s Secretary of the
Treasury. In practice, this translates not simply into a Democratic
reluctance to undertake new spending, but also a refusal to debate
the rollback of any of Bush’s $1 trillion in tax cuts for the
affluent. `Tax and spend, tax and spend, tax and spend’, Senator Kent
Conrad (chair of the Budget Committee) told the New York
Times, `we’re not going there’. [36] The president can give away the
Treasury to the super-rich and run up colossal debts as he invades
the world, but the Democrats are now sworn to a path of anti-
Keynesian rectitude that would have made Calvin Coolidge blush.
Indeed Congress’s most `rabid budget-balancers’ (this is the official
description on their website) are the Blue Dogs, a caucus of
conservative Democrats organized in 1995 in jealous emulation of
Gingrich’s Republicans. Hailing mainly from rapidly growing smaller
cities and exurbs such as Merced, Tallahassee and Hot Springs, the
Blue Dogs cultivate a downhome guns-and-bibles image in contrast to
the cappuccino-drinking New Democrats (who tend to represent
wealthier suburbs in Connecticut and California). Although they share
the hawkish politics of the dlc New Dems, they are less friendly to
hedge funds and free-trade agreements. The real fire in the belly of
the Blue Dogs is their demagogic opposition to state welfarism and,
especially, federal aid to Black and Latino-majority big cities. With
44 members in their expanded `dog pound’ and plentiful allies on the
Republican side, the Blue Dogs vow to cap spending in the next
Congress, while gathering votes for a constitutional amendment to
require an annually balanced federal budget. [37] One of their chief
allies, South Carolina’s John Spratt, will be chair of the House
Budget Committee and, with Pelosi’s blessing, the Party’s `chief
enforcer’ of budgetary austerity. [38]
Terrified of the perceived electoral and financial repercussions of
attempting to reform the current tax system, and with the Blue Dogs
barking at their heels, the leadership prefers to let Republican
deficits and tax cuts dictate Democratic policy. Karl Rove proposes
to do precisely that and, in the New Year, Bush invited the Democrats
to join him in balancing the budget, `a goal that would tie the hands
of the Democrats’, leaving them `little or no room to manoeuvre their
priorities through Congress’. [39]
The Democratic leadership’s public preference for balanced budgets
over human needs is thus partly a reflection of the balance of power
within the party, where the Blue Dogs (either alone or in combination
with the New Dems) now claim de facto veto power over new
legislation. It was presumably this pressure from conservative white
Democrats that led congressional election strategists under the
command of Illinois representative Rahm Emanuel to deliberately
delete any mention of New Orleans from 2006 campaign advertising. [40]
The fate of New Orleans, of course, is one of the great moral
watersheds in modern American history, but most Democrats shamelessly
refused to make federal responses to Hurricane Katrina or the
subsequent ethnic cleansing of the Gulf Coast central issues in the
campaign. Although President Bush himself had declared in his Jackson
Square speech that `we have a duty to confront this poverty [revealed
by Katrina] with bold action’, the Democrats have shown no greater
sense of `duty’ or capacity for `bold action’ than a notoriously
hypocritical and incompetent White House. Their priorities were
exemplified by the six-plank national platform in November that
stressed deficits and troop buildups but failed to mention either
Katrina or poverty.
Even the Black Caucus, with some individual exceptions, has been
surprisingly listless in its response to an unending series of Bush
administration provocations (including, most recently, the decisions
to knock down 4,000 units of little-damaged public housing in New
Orleans and abruptly end housing aid to thousands of Katrina refugees
outside the city). Although Harlem’s Rangel has promised new
congressional hearings on poverty in the light of the New Orleans
catastrophe, he is unlikely to defy the leadership’s deficit-
reduction fetish. It will be easier to hand out more blame (richly
deserved, of course) to Republican policies than to roll back tax
cuts for the rich to pay for new social spending.
But Nancy, Harry and Hillary do have one domestic crusade whose
importance transcends other dogmas and constraints: the promotion of
the `innovation agenda’ that the Democrats hope will dramatically
solidify their support among hi-tech corporations and science-based
firms across the country. If you wanted to find the missing urgency
and passion that the Democrats should have focused on Katrina and
urban poverty, it was evident last year in the rousing speeches that
Pelosi and other leading Democrats delivered in tech hubs like
Emeryville, Mountain View, Raleigh and Redmond.
Unlike bringing the troops home from Iraq or rebuilding homes and
lives in New Orleans, the innovation agenda is a `real’ Democratic
priority. Angry at the Republican failure to renew all-important r&d
tax credits for Silicon Valley firms, tech industry leaders,
including the ceos of Cisco and Genentech, worked with Pelosi and her
Bay Area Democratic colleagues to develop a list of key demands—
including new stock option accounting rules, permanent r&d credits,
patent reforms, subsidies for alternative energy, a doubling of
funding for the National Science Foundation, and `network neutrality’
for the internet—that the Democrats have promised to pass in 2007.
[41] (Democrats have also long supported the h1-b visa programme that
keeps Silicon Valley awash with cheap foreign engineers, most of whom
do not have the right to join unions or organize.) [42]
The Democrats’ avid interest in patents and innovation was punctually
rewarded with a 50 per cent increase (over 2004) in campaign
contributions from hi-tech industries to the Democratic Congressional
Campaign Committee. [43] At the same time, according to the Center
for Responsive Politics, while in 2000 the Republican share of
Silicon Valley political money `was 43 per cent, now it’s 4 per
cent’. [44] Since the first days of the Clinton administration,
seducing the software and biotech sectors and their allied venture
capitalists (along with deepening already profound ties to
entertainment and media industries) has been the Democrats’
equivalent of the Republicans’ K Street Project. [45] Now, with Al
Gore sitting on the boards of Google and Apple, and Pelosi plotting
virtual futures with Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the
Millennium has arrived. Indeed with the ascent of Bay Area Democrats
to such commanding positions in Congress, New Orleans may continue to
moulder in misery, but Silicon Valley and its outliers can now trade
pork as equals with the oil men and defence contractors still
bunkered inside the White House.
The Democrats, as Thomas Edsall frequently points out these days,
represent two very different and largely incompatible population
universes. Two out of five Democratic voters fit the stereotype
of `well-educated, well-off, culturally liberal professionals’, but
the rest of the party’s base are people who are `socially and
economically disadvantaged’ in the new Gilded Age: the Black and
Latino working classes, white women in lower-end information-sector
jobs, and white men in traditional but rapidly shrinking industrial
occupations. [46] The post-New Deal Party led by the Clintons is
entirely mobilized to articulate and defend the interests of affluent
knowledge workers and the globalized industries in which they work;
the rest of the Democrats ride in the back of the bus on the cynical
assumption that Blacks, immigrants and Rustbelt whites have nowhere
else to go and thus are an automatic blue vote.
Since the rise and fall of Jesse Jackson’s electrifying `Rainbow
Coalition’ campaign in 1984, there has been no serious challenge to
the dominance of the New Democrats and their version of `Third Way’
ideology, alloying economic neoliberalism and cultural tolerance. Yet
the dream of a new populist, anti-Yuppie uprising, fuelled by
righteous blue-collar anger and rousing the party’s long neglected
majority, has continued to inspire progressives and veterans of the
Rainbow as they have suffered under the arrogant yoke of dlc
centrists and economic globalizers.
Then, a few days after his stunning upset of George Allen in
Virginia, Democratic senator-elect James Webb published an op-ed
piece in the Wall Street Journal under the provocative
headline `Class Struggle’. Webb, who was Secretary of the Navy under
Ronald Reagan, warned that an `ever-widening divide’ of socio-
economic inequality was plunging the United States back into `a class-
based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the
nineteenth century’. While their wages stagnated and social security
declined, working-class Americans were diverted by carefully
orchestrated hysteria about `God, guns, gays, abortion and the
flag’. `The politics of the Karl Rove era’, warned the former leading
Republican, `were designed to distract and divide the very people who
would ordinarily be rebelling against the deterioration of their way
of life.’ [47]
Webb’s column predictably shocked many wsj readers, but it delighted
progressives, who recognized that he was quoting almost verbatim from
What’s the Matter with Kansas? and endorsing Tom Frank’s call for the
Democrats to reclaim the mantle of economic populism. Webb argued
that the Democratic victory would ensure that `American workers
[finally] have a chance to be heard’ in their legitimate complaints
about the social costs of free trade and job export. `And our
government leaders’, he intoned, `have no greater duty than to
confront the growing unfairness in this age of globalization.’
Bombast or the manifesto for the long-awaited uprising? Writing in
the Nation a few weeks later, Christopher Hayes argued that Webb’s
born-again concern for working-class victims of corporate
globalization was part of a genuine populist trend within the
Democratic Party, whose standard-bearers also include congressional
victor Heath Shuler in North Carolina and new Senator Sherrod Brown
in Ohio. [48] Certainly their appeals to economic patriotism (Shuler
accused his Republican congressional opponent of `selling out
American families’) and strident denunciations of `internationalists’
and `free traders’ struck real sparks in Carolina and Virginia
textile towns and the Appalachian counties of Ohio, where whole
industries have died in the last decade. In 2004, John Kerry lost the
mountains and piedmont (including hardcore Democratic West Virginia)
because he had almost nothing to say about the regional jobs crisis;
this time around, the Democrats fielded first-class demagoguery in a
local drawl.
But as Hayes himself eloquently emphasizes, `economic populism has a
dark side’, and he allows that other analysts
have raised the spectre of the rise of a `Lou Dobbs’-like wing of the
party whose economic arguments are inextricably linked to a
racialized nationalism, the kind of populism that’s equally
comfortable bashing corporations that outsource jobs and `illegal
aliens’ who take away Americans’ jobs here at home, and whose
opposition to the Iraq War, like Pat Buchanan’s, is rooted in an
America-first isolationism.
Although Hayes prefers to believe in the progressive trend of figures
like Webb and Shuler, I think he is most accurate when he compares
their politics to racist media demagogues like Dobbs and Buchanan.
A careful reading of Webb’s `class struggle’ article, for example,
reveals precisely his belief that Mexican gardeners and investment
bankers are coequal exploiters of the native working class, with
a `vast underground labour pool from illegal immigration’ waiting to
drown American values and wages. A strange passage about
the `unspoken insinuation’ that `certain immigrant groups have
the “right genetics” and thus are natural entrants to
the “overclass”‘ can be decoded as a reference to the Yellow Peril
fantasies that infuse Webb’s public utterances. As Secretary of the
Navy he was one of the principal advocates of a continuing Cold War
with China, which he later saw developing a `strategic axis with the
Muslim world’, and he broke with Bush policies in Iraq precisely
because he feared that Rumsfeld was criminally `empowering’ the real
enemies—Iran and China. [50]
Heath Shuler, the former star quarterback for the Washington
Redskins, likewise turns many hard hats his way with passionate
screeds against North American Free Trade and the export of Heartland
jobs. But like Webb’s, his populist message is poisoned by a nativism
that includes television campaign ads depicting Shuler as a lone hero
fighting against amnesty for illegal immigrants. Ezra Klein in
American Prospect recently argued that liberals should not worry
unduly about the jingoism of Webb and Shuler, or about their
reactionary positions on gays and abortion. In a Congress dominated
by Democrats, Klein explains, `they’ll have precious little
opportunity to exercise their social conservatism. Their economic
beliefs, however, will get more play in a Congress aching to, at long
last, turn its attention to health care, jobs, inequality, corporate
regulation and all the other domestic issues Democrats so love to
address.’ [51]
Aside from Klein’s heroic assumptions about Democrats’ reforming
intentions, he seriously underestimates the dangers posed by economic
nationalism within Democratic ranks. Karl Rove and the White House,
for their part, were dramatically blindsided over the last year by
the explosion of anti-immigrant hysteria within the conservative
grass roots; and the editors of American Prospect (the magazine
of `progessive Democrats’) may yet rue their underestimation of
Democratic xenophobia. At least half of the 30 seats that the
Democrats took from Republicans were won by candidates with
conservative positions on immigration. Throughout the South and
Midwest, moreover, Democrats attacked Republicans for being `soft on
illegal immigration’, and one Democratic senate campaign committee’s
website even juxtaposed images of people scaling border fences with
portraits of bin Laden and Kim Jong Il. The Blue Dogs, in particular,
are avid supporters of a continental-scale border wall and the use of
local police to enforce national immigration laws. [52]
In the new Congress it will be interesting to see how far the Webbs
and Shulers travel with their `proletarian’ attacks on the free-trade
principles held sacred by New Dems and Clintonians. (My hunch is that
the hidden injuries of class will matter less to both politicians
after they have had some heartwarming conversations with the wealthy
hi-tech types in the Research Triangle and Beltway science parks.) On
the other hand, there is a very real chance that the anti-immigrant
and sinophobic aspects of their erstwhile populism will be amplified
in synergy with like-minded Republicans. The Democrats can take
temporary delight in the self-destruction of the Republicans’ `Latino
strategy’, but they are not immune to such devils within their own
party. In the worst-case scenario, the long-hoped-for New Populism
would simply become midwife to a bipartisan regroupment of bigots and
cranks, while the Democratic leadership continues to take its cues
from Goldman Sachs and Genentech.
[1] Bob Herbert, `Ms. Speaker and Other Trends’, New York Times, 9
November 2006; Paul Waldman, `A Big Step in Nation’s March to Left’,
Baltimore Sun, 12 November 2006; and George Lakoff, `Building on the
Progressive Victory’, CommonDreams.org, 14 December 2006.
[2] Lawrence Kudlow, `Reach Out to the Blue Dogs’,
kudlowsmoneypolitics.blogspot.com, 8 November 2006; and William
Safire, `After the Thumpin”, New York Times, 9 November 2006.
[3] William Schneider, `Swing Time’, National Journal, 11 November
[4] Thomas Edsall, `White-Guy Rebellion’, National Journal, 11
November 2006.
[5] Robert Borosage, James Carville and Stanley Greenberg, The
Meltdown Election: Report on the 2006 Post-Election Surveys,
Democracy Corps, Washington dc, 15 November 2006, pp. 2–3.
[6] There are 98 partisan chambers in 50 states, but Nebraska, thanks
to its great Progressive, George Norris, has had a unicameral, non-
partisan legislature since 1937.
[7] John Hood, `gop Car Wreck’, National Review, 4 December 2006.
Democrats doubled the number of states (from 8 to 16) where they
control both the legislature and the governor’s mansion. See analysis
in Tim Storey and Nicole Moore, `Democrats Deliver a Power Punch’,
State Legislatures, December 2006.
[8] Jonathan Martin, `Damn Yankees’, National Review, 18 December
[9] For a hysterical view of `how liberal millionaires are buying
Colorado’s politics’, see John Miller, `The Color Purple’, National
Review, 4 December 2006.
[10] Storey and Moore, `Democrats’.
[11] Frank’s brilliantly written and highly influential 2004 book,
What’s the Matter with Kansas?, portrays a white working class that
has surrendered any rational calculation of its economic interests to
hopeless, manipulated cultural rage. Like many other progressives, he
calls for the Democrats to counter Rovian cultural populism with
their own economic populism. My 2005 critique of Frank, `What’s Wrong
with America?’ (prepared for a ucla debate) appears in In Praise of
Barbarians: essays against empire, Chicago 2007.
[12] Peter Slevin, `Trounced at Polls, Kansas gop Is Still Plagued by
Infighting’, Washington Post, 30 December 2006. Slevin argues that
the culture wars—evolution and abortion particularly—have deeply,
perhaps irreparably split the Kansas gop.
[13] Borosage, Carville and Greenberg, Meltdown Election. Republican
pollster Frank Luntz agrees with Greenberg: `So much of it [the
election] was a statement of disappointment in Republican leadership
rather than an embrace of the Democratic alternative. The election
was a referendum on the national gop.’ Storey and Moore, `Democrats’.
[14] Edsall, `White-Guy Rebellion’.
[15] The Senate, in which Wyoming with less than 500,000 people has
the same representation as California with nearly 35 million,
provides the Republicans (dominant in the rural, more thinly
populated states) with a notorious advantage.
[16] Ezra Klein, `Spinned Right’, American Prospect online, 8
November 2006; Christopher Hayes, `The New Democratic Populism’,
Nation, 4 December 2006; and Michael Tomasky, `Dems put the “big
tent” back together’, Los Angeles Times, 12 November 2006.
[17] The backlash of independent voters against Bush pumped wind into
the sails of both McCain and Giuliani, perceived as the only
Republicans who can win that segment of the electorate; but even more
dramatically, it increased the value of `Terminator’ futures.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose political fortunes
collapsed in 2005 after a disastrous stint as a conservative
Republican, has returned from the dead in a new, hugely popular
incarnation as a big-spending stealth-Democrat. His backers are
currently canvassing the possibility of a constitutional amendment
that would allow the foreign-born actor to run for president in 2012.
[18] An Opinion Research/cnn poll of whom voters did not want to be
their party’s 2008 candidate found Mitt Romney at 50 per cent among
Republicans (just behind retired Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist)
and Barack Obama at 38 per cent among Democrats (behind Al Gore and
the luckless John Kerry). See `Poll Track’, National Journal, 2
December 2006.
[19] William Schneider was fascinated by an almost exact numerical
correlation in every region between disapproval of the war and
disapproval of the president: `Swing Time’. Charlie Cook, another
well-known psephologist, gave Iraq credit for 70 per cent of the
national shift from red to blue. Charlie Cook, `The War’s Wave’,
National Journal, 11 November 2006.
[20] See Bara Vaida and Neil Munro, `Reversal of Fortunes’, National
Journal, 11 November 2006.
[21] As Brooks emphasizes, the aggressive Republicanization of the
professional military is a relatively recent phenomenon (since Reagan
and the Second Cold War) that has been reinforced by gop policies
that have shifted military bases and officer-training programmes to
more conservative Sunbelt states. Rosa Brooks, `Weaning the military
from the gop’, Los Angeles Times, 5 January 2007.
[22] Tom Hayden, `Election Interpretation’, handout to his class at
Pitzer College, 9 November 2006.
[23] Noam Levey, `Democracy To-Do List is Modest at Outset’, Los
Angeles Times, 2 January 2007.
[24] William Schneider, `Warring Sects’, National Journal, 18
November 2006.
[25] Levey, `Democracy To-Do List’. Pelosi echoes the position of
chief Democratic Leadership Council ideologue, Will Marshall,
that `those mindful of history [e.g., Vietnam] will shy away from
trying to take over Iraqi policy by, for instance, cutting off
funding for the war.’ James Kitfield, `Next Steps in Iraq’, National
Journal, 11 November 2006.
[26] When the National Journal asked Ike Skelton, the new chair of
the Armed Services Committee, about his priorities, he
responded: `Are they getting jammers? Are they getting body armour?
The infantry and the Special Forces need to be larger, better
trained, and have better equipment.’ `Democrats to Watch’.
[27] Pew Research Center data cited in William Schneider, `The Price
of Patience’, National Journal, 2 December 2006.
[28] `K Street’—after the office address of many corporate lobbyists—
is the metonym for the revolving door that punctually turns former
members of Congress (especially committee chairs) and their aides
into highly-paid lobbyists for pharmaceutical companies, oil giants,
real-estate brokers, arms dealers and foreign dictators. Although
civics textbooks have yet to acknowledge its enormous importance, `K
Street’ is truly the fourth, `financial’ branch of national
government in the United States.
[29] See Lou Dubose and Jan Reid, The Hammer: Tom DeLay, God, Money,
and the Rise of the Republican Congress, New York 2004.
[30] Richard Cohen, David Baumann and Kirk Victor, `Going Blue’,
National Journal, 11 November 2006, p. 16; and `Democrats to Watch’.
[31] Brian Friel, `Junkyard Dogs, on a Leash’, National Journal, 11
November 2006.
[32] `Old dogs; few tricks’, Economist, 11 November 2006.
[33] Richard Dunham and Eamon Javers, `The Politics of Change’,
BusinessWeek, 20 November 2006.
[34] Dunham and Javers, `Politics of Change’.
[35] Richard Simon, `Green laws no slam-dunk in new Congress’, Los
Angeles Times, 18 December 2006.
[36] Edmund Andrews, `The Democrats’ Cautious Tiptoe Around the
President’s Tax Cuts’, New York Times, 4 January 2007.
[37] Blue Dog Coalition, `12-Point Reform Plan for Curing Our
Nation’s Addiction to Deficit Spending’, at www.bluedogdemocrat.org.
[38] `Democrats to Watch’.
[39] Joel Havemann, `Bush wants budget balanced by 2012′, Los Angeles
Times, 4 January 2007.
[40] `It’s as if this year, Katrina was the subliminal issue.’
Michael Tisserand, `The Katrina Factor’, Nation, 1 January 2007.
[41] Jim Puzzanghera, `Pelosi likely to speak up for tech industry’,
Los Angeles Times, 13 November 2006.
[42] David Bacon, `Immigrants Find Hi-Tech Servitude in Silicon
Valley’, Labor Notes, September 2000.
[43] Puzzanghera, `Pelosi likely to speak up’.
[44] crp communications director Massie Ritsch in one of the National
Journal’s `Technology Daily’ communiqués, August 2006.
[45] See Sara Miles, How to Hack a Party Line: The Democrats and
Silicon Valley, New York 2001.
[46] Thomas Edsall, National Journal, 23 September 2006. He uses Pew
Research Center data to characterize the Democratic electorate.
[47] James Webb, `Class Struggle: American workers have a chance to
be heard’, Wall Street Journal, 15 November 2006.
[48] Hayes, `New Democratic Populism’.
[49] Hayes, `New Democratic Populism’. I leave aside for later
discussion the emergent presidential campaign of John Edwards who, in
a quest to outflank Hillary on the left, has seemingly embraced a
more robust and authentic progressivism than the trick-populism that
disappointed his followers in 2004. For an intriguing preview, see
Perry Bacon, `The Anti-Clinton’, Time, 15 January 2007.
[50] James Webb, `What to do about China?’, New York Times, 15 June
1998; and `Heading for Trouble’, Washington Post, 4 September 2002.
[51] Klein, `Spinned Right’.
[52] Brian Friel, `Splits of Their Own,’ National Journal, 9
September 2006.