I whole-heartedly support Claire McCaskill for re-election. I say this although, as regular readers of the blog may know, I’ve been disappointed with her careful adherence to that perceived sweet spot that the GOP’s careening lurch to the far right has allowed many to designate the new center of our political spectrum. She’s certainly had her good moments; on women’s and union issues, for instance, she’s been really fine. But, her failures and her virtues aside, I support her for three reasons: Todd Akin, Sarah Steelman, and Jon Brunner, not to mention the absolute need to deny control of the Senate to the lock-step-marching GOP which is more than capable of neutralizing its own more moderate members.
However, if Greg Sargent is correct, McCaskill may want to put her sensitive finger to the wind once again – it might just be shifting direction, albeit slightly. Noting the defeat of two blue dog Democrats in yesterday’s primaries, he observes:
The question here is how these results, and any other moderate setbacks in other primaries this year, will be interpreted by Democratic politicians. Will they see it as just a couple of redistricting-inspired flukes? Or as a warning shot to Democratic elected officials who care more about avoiding the “liberal” label than they do about supporting policies that primary voters prefer?
Of course, Sargent also argues that liberal Democratic primary victories will not provide the desired exemplar if progressives fail to engage in the inevitable “spin” war. But if we progressives do our part, the rewards could be big:
If liberals want to duplicate this from the left, and make these two wins matter beyond the district lines, their work is cut out for them. They need to win the spin, and they need to keep it going in other districts this year and in future election cycles. The stakes are certainly high enough.
Imagine a scenario in which Democrats again win unified control of government – and instead of having to deal with dozens of Members who are terrified of voting for the mainstream liberal agenda, there are dozens of Members who are terrified of opposing it. Compared with 1993 or even 2009, that would be whole ‘nother ballgame.
Note the emphasis on “future election cycles.” We’re not going to win this fight this year. I’m sure it’s not necessary to remind you that that conserdems like McCaskill should only be called to account in primaries – and only then when we’ve got a smart plan and a smart candidate – not in general elections when the alternatives are part of a putsch aimed at upsetting the New Deal and taking us back to the bad old days of economic laissez faire policies and the social Darwinism of the corrupt, gilded age when the rich got richer and the poor …. well, you know the rest.