Michael: Time To Stop Picking Our BattlesArizona’s Democratic Governor is immensely popular. The Republican Arizona legislature is immensely unpopular. Napolitano has stood up for the values of Democrats against the budgetary extremism of the legislature.
Governor Schwartzenegger of California’s favorability rating has fallen below 50%. Internal Democratic polls show that California citizens overwhelmingly support the Democratic legislative leadership on every issue area regarding the state budget. Elected Democrats in the CA executive branch, such as State Treasurer Phil Agelides and Attorney General Bill Lockyear, both of whom openly oppose and criticize everything Schwartzenegger does, are also very popular.
The lesson is pretty clear: standing up for Democratic values is popular.
The conventional wisdom in DC among congressional Democrats is that they will be punished by voters if they are perceived uncooperative or obstructionist to the Republican agenda. They fear a backlash if they stand on principles. Perhaps that is why some Democrats have crossed party lines to vote for bills as onerous as the new bankruptcy act, the repeal of the estate tax, the MTBE liability waiver, and drilling in the ANWR. These are all betrayals of everything the Democratic Party should stand for, yet Democratic office-holders are voting for them. Perhaps they think that Republicans will remember them in the voting booth: unlikely, but Democrats certainly will.
It’s time for our Congressional Democratic leaders stand up against the Republican agenda every time, instead of choosing to stand firm only on strategically selected issues. We Democrats put these people into office to represent our views on every issue, not just those they think will sell across the aisle.
What congressional Democrats are afraid of is not exactly clear. Congressional GOP caucuses led by increasingly out-of-the-mainstream and discredited figures like DeLay and Frist? A President who is a lame duck even as he embarks on his second term, who has the distinction of having the lowest second-term approval in modern history, and who is deeply distrusted on his chosen signature issues?
Now is the time to stand up and offer America a Democratic vision of America’s future. We cannot win if Democrats do nothing but obstruct the GOP, but neither can we win if Democrats give the GOP political cover by acquiescing to their ideologically inspired agenda, or by facilitating political payoffs to their most powerful constituencies.