Yay! We Got Second Place

Since my more optimistic friends in the blogosphere are taking the opportunity to thank the 25 Dems who supported the filibuster (at least, since late last week after getting harassed by their base), here’s the list of the Democrats who didn’t support the filibuster.

Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Carper (D-DE)
Conrad (D-ND)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)

What’s the point of having a Democratic Senate when almost half of the caucus (like the 19 listed above) is too afraid of their constituents to do the right thing? Is there any issue these men and women are willing to ignore the polls and fight for? Based on what we’ve seen, we know they aren’t willing to fight to protect freedom of privacy, due process, or checks and balances. These men and women (most of whom voted against Alito, btw) care more about their job security than protecting your personal freedoms. This is the worst form of pandering and the Democratic leadership should keep this list handy if the Democrats accidentally regain the Senate any time soon. Don’t support the party? No committee chairmanship for you.

Speaking of pandering, as much as I love Digby, I’m gonna have to disagree with him on this one :

I keep hearing that it’s bad that these Senators “pandered” to the blogosphere and I don’t understand it. We want them to pander to the blogosphere. In their book Politicians Don’t Pander; Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness Lawrence R. Jacobs and Robert Y. Shapiro argue:

Politicians respond to public opinion, then, but in two quite different ways. In one, politicians assemble information on public opinion to design government policy. This is usually equated with “pandering,” and this is most evident during the relatively short period when presidential elections are imminent. The use of public opinion research here, however, raises a troubling question: why has the derogatory term “pander” been pinned on politicians who respond to public opinion? The answer is revealing: the term is deliberately deployed by politicians, pundits, and other elites to belittle government responsiveness to public opinion and reflects a long-standing fear, uneasiness, and hostility among elites toward popular consent and influence over the affairs of government

Bingo. It isn’t actually pandering. It’s responsiveness.

The difference between pandering and responsiveness is that legitimate responsiveness isn’t patronizing. If Kerry was legitimately moved by the extremity of Alito’s views, he wouldn’t have announced his plan to filibuster at the last minute while he was in Europe. He would have stayed home and tried to gain the support of his fellow Democrats. At the very least, he would have given Harry Reid a phone call. If the red state Dems who voted against cloture really didn’t think Alito was extreme enough to filibuster, they wouldn’t have voted “No” on his confirmation. These weren’t decisions based on conviction, they were attempts to kiss the asses of various segments of the electorate. It’s the sincerity, stupid.

Now I know this next part is going to sound hopelessly naive, but I don’t want a party that’s only able to act in reaction to events on the ground. I want a proactive Democratic party that doesn’t need to be harassed in order to see that Justice Alito is a wingnut. While other bloggers find it refreshing that netroots activists were able to convince 25 Senators to support a filibuster, I’m saddened that trying to block Alito’s confirmation didn’t come as second nature. I thought we had similar values, but if it still takes a massive effort on our part to get this far, then we’re probably just better off pretending to be evangelicals and calling the Republicans. If we’re going to have to get on our knees and beg our Representatives to do the right thing, we might as well beg the people who have the power.

For years now, the Democrats have been promising us that their flip-flopping and brown-nosing was no big deal because they wouldn’t buckle when it came to the big fights. Yet we’ve been tricked into excusing this sort of behavior time and again. You guys supported the Patriot Act, the Iraq War resolution, the Medicare Drug Bill, the President’s tax cuts, the promotion of torture advocate Alberto Gonzales, and now the appointment of two conservative ideologues to the Supreme Court. Sure, a plurality of Dems are usually in the opposition, but when you’ve got Obama supporting “tort reform”, Feinstein supporting the prescription drug debacle, Kerry and Clinton supporting the Iraq war resolution, Feingold voting to confirm John Roberts and almost everybody supporting the Patriot Act, this isn’t something that can just be laid at the feet of the usual suspects like Joe Lieberman. Over and over again we see Democrats support the President’s agenda and we’re supposed to believe everything will magically get better once you guys get into power? If the Democratic-controlled the Senate from mid-2001 to the end of 2002 is any indication, the Dem weakness on the Alito confirmation, the President’s unconstitutional spying program, and the Republican bribery scandal is just business as usual.