You Have to Hold Individual Politicians Accountable

Jim Geraghty makes some excellent points about the dynamic between parties when it comes to gun rights:

But there’s a catch. For even the best, most pro-Second Amendment House Democrat, the first vote they cast in the House is to make Nancy Pelosi the Speaker of the House, ensuring the floor schedule is controlled by a woman who is scored an “F” by the organization. And her speakership ensures that F-rated John Conyers of Michigan chairs the Judiciary Committee, and that liberals, often but not always anti-gun, control the important committees.

Meanwhile, if that A-rated House Democrat were beaten by some squishy C or B-rated Republican, his first vote be would make A-rated John Boehner (or perhaps some other Republican) the Speaker.

It’s a very good point, but I’m not sure how you really get around it unless you score the vote on the Speaker and leadership. We don’t want to hitch the gun rights wagon to a particular party, but we do want to hold individual politicians accountable for their positions on our issue, and many Democrats on the issue are quite good. If we refuse to back Democrats who support our issue, we essentially offer the Democrats nothing for their support, in which case, right now, we’d be getting steamrollered in Congress.

So why not score the vote on the Speaker? Because, not surprisingly, politicians are political animals. If the Republicans and pro-gun Democrats can get together to get together and form a majority for the purposes of gun bills, they can’t necessarily get together on other matters, such as the selection of Speaker. The problem is, while the Democratic Party is divided between Progressives and moderate-to-conservative Blue Dogs, the Progressives are the ones in the safest districts, and the ones with the most seniority.

They also represent a voting majority within the party itself. The only way you could get a different Speaker than Pelosi would be if the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats got together and elected a different Speaker. That’s not going to happen. Why? Because the party is in charge of committee assignments according to House rules, and any Democrat crossing the ailes for that kind of thing is going to find himself with the worst assignments. There’s also many many things the party apparatus can do to a Blue Dog to make him cooperate, or punish him for lack of cooperation. The system makes it very difficult for a minority faction within a party to have a whole lot of sway, so it’s very difficult for them to buck their party on a vote like Speaker. Sure, you can grade the vote, but it’s not going to make you popular on the Hill, and you’re not going to win anyway. There’s no easy answer to the Pelosi problem.

What surprises me, is that in a year like this one, you don’t see more Blue Dogs threatening to switch parties if the progressive leadership keeps twisting their arms. Maybe there’s a good reason that move is very hard to pull off in DC, but if I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t hesitate to play that card. This is going to be a bad year to be a Democratic. Even worse if you voted for the health care bill.

5 thoughts on “You Have to Hold Individual Politicians Accountable”

  1. Ok, true, an A-Rated dem makes for an F-Rated Speaker.

    Pelosi would only put up a pro-gun bill over her dead body.

    But those A-Rated Dems do keep her from putting up an ANTI-gun bill. She wants to stay speaker and she can’t if she alienates a sizable part of her own caucas. So it’s a wash, on gun while she is there.

    Which is better than many alternatives.

  2. Some good points i’d never considered. One nit.

    Why use the term “progressive?” That implies that the other side is seeking “progress.” That’s a positive implication. “Liberal,” on the other hand, is more descriptive and rightly, due to its association with liberal politicians, has a negative connotation. Why cede that linguistic turf?

    A future with my guns confiscated isn’t progress. A future with nationwide CCW reciprocity is…But it’s conservative/libertarian politicians who’ll get that, not liberals.

  3. I’ve never liked the term liberal. Liberals are people who believe in liberty, and that’s not progressives. Commies and socialists are pejoratives. I don’t really like progressive either, but until we bring “social democrat” into our vernacular, there’s not much better word.

  4. It may be a pejorative, but what’s wrong with calling a socialist a socialist or a commie a commie?

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