Political power requires a basis in the form of a base of support. The problem with the notion of power at any price as a practical matter is that it negates itself: it contradicts its own basis.
Caption: It’s your inner beauty that’s decisive, right? And what be the basis of the concealed light of your astral halo of spectral despair, may I be so bold as to ask?
Charlie Crist and Arlen Specter would be cases in point. Both figures asserted their independence from the basis of their power in the form of their party coalitions when it became clear that those coalitions had collapsed beneath them, as both had reasoned that their personal power could provide the basis of a new coalition among the constituencies of a new party.
By way of contrast in the form of an antithesis, Senator Lieberman asserted his independence from his party to reclaim an existing and fully functional coalition taken from him when he was defeated in a Democratic primary.
Now the same drama is playing itself out at the national level in the form of the Democratic party and its shattered consensus.
(1) Democrats who run for office are running against their party leadership.
[...] CBS Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes said the Democrats are distancing themselves from President Obama, writes Jimmy So in an http://www.cbsnews.com article titled Analysts: White House Panicking Over Elections
“Not only are they running away from President Obama, they’re running away from being Democrats in some cases. In some races you actually see the Democratic candidates not really mentioning that they’re a Democrat in their campaign ads,” Cordes said [...]
Some House Dems Run TV Ads Heralding Opposition to President Obama, Democratic Leaders and Their Policies, writes Jake Tapper in a blogs.abcnews.com Political Punch blog burst, and he provides examples of Democratic campaign advertising that argues against the Democratic agenda.
(2) The Democrats run way from, or run against, their signal legislative achievement, health care reform.
At least five of the 34 House Democrats who voted against their party’s health care reform bill are highlighting their “no” votes in ads back home, writes Jennifer Haberkorn in a http://www.politico.com article titled Dems run away from health care
By contrast, party officials in Washington can’t identify a single House member who’s running an ad boasting of a “yes” vote — despite the fact that 219 House Democrats voted in favor of final passage in March [...]
(3) The White House contradicts its core assumption about political agency in the form of federal supervision as the principal driver of economic growth and endorses supply-side tax relief. See:
(4) Update: The donor community has turned sharp right. See:
Major Democratic donors shift donations to the right, by John Byrne of Raw Story.
The material basis—this system of patrons and clients—of the new governing coalition is already in place. And formerly Democrat donors are now betting on the possibility of the Senate as well as the House turning Republican.
Passing quickly in review, Democrats disavow their President and party leadership. Democrats run as non-Democrats. The Democrats still drive the agenda, only they drive it toward Republican policy goals including
- supply-side growth policies
- extending the Bush 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, whether fully or partially
- stern opposition to cap and trade or a carbon tax, the operational principle of Obama energy sector reform
- opposition to the Bush bank bailouts and the Obama stimulus bill
- opposition to the growth of the public sector
- opposition to ObamaCare—opposition to funding it, implementing it, and opposition especially to the individual insurance mandate, the operational principle of health care reform
- even, and including, opposition to the President and the Democratic leadership—do we even need Republicans anymore?
The election in November is only an afterthought at this point. The 112th U.S. Congress and its Republican majority effectively began in the high summer of 2010. This is the case whether the Democratic party can hold their majority in the House of Representatives or not, because it matters little who holds a seat; what is decisive is what the person who holds the seat proposes or will support.