There have been reports of Democratic candidates for United States House of Representatives distancing themselves from fellow Democratic President Barak Obama and the liberal Democratic Congressional leadership and some of their more unpopular policies, such as the federalization of health insurance and deficit spending. Some Democratic House candidates are avoiding identifying themselves as Democrats even in districts with a history of voting Democratic. Others are campaigning openly as moderates or even as conservatives.
I can report on one such Democratic candidate locally, Tim Holden, in whose Pennsylvania district I once was until the redistricting after the 2000 Census. The usually safe nine-term incumbent is running television advertisements in which he calls himself a “conservative,” despite his record of having provided the one-vote margin necessary to pass the Clinton tax increases – the largest in American history (the so-called “deficit reduction” plan that proposed to increase the federal budget deficit, which it did), as well as voting for gun control during the Clinton Administration and for public money for pornographic “art,” while voting against missile defense. Among other pork-barrel spending for which he has voted, Holden infamously voted to maintain the federal subsidy for sugar growers, even though there are no sugar growers in his district, after having accepted thousands of dollars in contributions to his campaign committee from the sugar special interests. Although he occasionally votes with the Republicans, especially when his vote is not needed by the liberal Democratic leadership, as it was for the Clinton tax increase, the most important vote he casts every two years is for a liberal Democrat for Speaker of the House, such as when he voted for Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Indeed, all Democratic candidates for House, no matter what their ideology or platform is, are committed to voting for her for Speaker, which would keep control of the legislative agenda of the House in the hands of the liberal Democratic leadership. Similarly, all Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate would vote for liberal Democrats to retain control over the legislative agenda of the upper body. Control of the legislative agenda means that the leadership determines which bills or amendments it wishes to permit to be considered or debated and under what rules. In other words, the minority can pass only non-controversial bills or amendments. The majority party also holds the majority on all committees, where legislation is drafted in the first place, and names all of the chairmen.
That many of these Democratic candidates are running away from the unpopular Obama and the liberal Democratic Congressional leadership to such an extent that are trying to pass themselves off as not liberal is a good sign not only for Republican and conservative congressional candidates, but for conservatism in general. It suggests that even liberal Democrats recognize the rising popularity of common sense conservative ideas like smaller government, more liberty, a strong defense and public morality. As is often true in elections, liberals sometimes can only win by trying to sound like conservatives. Let us not be fooled, but vote for true conservatives pledged to vote for conservative congressional leadership.