Wednesday, June 01, 2005

CSM on "Purple Power"

The Christian Science Monitor's Gail Russell Chaddock examines what she terms "purple power" in an article today, suggesting that Democratic support for some Republican congressional initiatives (particularly in the House) "hints at a structural advantage for the GOP as it presses its agenda heading into 2006 elections." She notes that 20 percent of House Democrats represent districts won by President Bush in 2004, while just 8 percent of House Republicans represent areas where Democrat John Kerry prevailed.

The crossover zones are "seats that could be vulnerable," Chaddock writes, and that's part of the reason why some "purple" Democrats have often voted with Republicans in recent months, on various issues from bankruptcy reform to abortion. The article quotes University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato as saying "If they're a Democrat from a red district, they have to be looking over their shoulders all the time, and [these votes] are a good way to demonstrate to the Republican-leaning independents in their districts that they have indeed sided with the GOP on a certain number of leading issues." At the same time, Sabato and others note, when the party pushes, the votes are there.

Correctly, Chaddock mentions that it's not only Democrats who cross party lines, citing last week's bipartisan victory on stem cell research which drew fifty Republican votes. "When the klieg lights are turned off, and no one is watching, it's amazing how much bipartisanship you can find on Capitol Hill," said Heritage Foundation analyst Michael Frank.

Bipartisanship ought not to be something one can only find in the dark, "when the lights are turned off." And it also shouldn't mean representatives voting one way just to cover themselves politically and protecting themselves for their reelection campaigns. We've got a long way to go before we get to the point where purple power once again means courage, not cowardice.

2 Comments:

At 11:47 AM, Blogger Shay said...

Paul Weyrich of the conservative Free Congress Foundation recently did an article, pointing out similiar issue:

http://www.nationalledger.com/commentary/article_1464.shtml

 
At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Patience said...

In the case of issues like bankruptcy "reform" it's more the case that they're trying to keep businesses donating to their warchests rather than funding a challenger who might be more appealing to the folks at home. Bankruptcy "reform" was touted as a necessity because of the rising number of bankruptcies-- but should that be any surprise when the economy has been in the doldrums until just a few months ago? I've seen nothing to suggest that independent-minded voters in Republican districts were clamoring for a change in the code.

For more on the campaign warchest angle, try Googling "Poole bankruptcy house Congress."

 

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