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ObamaCare and Pleasing Pelosi


Democracy and Power 112:  Conflicts of interest

 The politician seeks a position of power, which requires the votes of his constituents.  However to be a power elite, the politician must be a loyal member of a party.  Often, the interest of the politician’s constituents and loyalty to the party are in conflict.

Because most constituents are busy making a living, raising families and focused on immediate community concerns, loyalty to the party most often prevails.


ObamaCare and Pleasing Pelosi

To be effective and powerful, a politician must be a good “team player” and follow the dictates of their party leaders.  Fortunately, America may be experiencing a citizen revolt against the caucus system.

Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe reports that some Democrats voted against Speaker Pelosi’s dictates and are proudly proclaiming they voted against ObamaCare.

Representative Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania has a TV spot in which a woman says approvingly: “You saw him when he voted against health care.’’ Virginia congressman Glenn Nye plays up the way he “took on Congress . . . voting against the health care bill because it cost too much.’’ South Dakota’s Stephanie Herseth Sandlin makes the same point in a humorous commercial starring her 22-month-old toddler, Zachary. Ads with similar messages have been aired by US Representatives Frank Kratovil of Maryland, Walt Minnick of Idaho, and Bobby Bright of Alabama. Plenty of Republicans are playing up their vote against the unpopular law — but these are all Democrats who voted no.

Compare their ads and the prospects of them being elected to Democratic Rep. Allen Boyd of Florida.  Boyd is a leader of the “Blue Dogs,” a group of 54 Conservative Democrats.  In the following, Kimberley Strassel of the Wall Street Journal quotes an angry constituent:

"Boyd stopped listening to us," she explains. "It's time for someone who votes the way he speaks." Mr. Boyd initially voted against the "massive" stimulus, complaining about deficit spending. He then voted for final passage. He was the Blue Dog ringleader last summer who revolted against the health bill in committee and voted against it in November. Yet this spring Mr. Boyd came up "aye."

 And Strassel says the most prominent ad is “Blue Dog = Lap Dog.”

 Why did Boyd capitulate and vote in accord with Pelosi demands?  Why did Altmire, et al, vote against the Democratic Caucus?  What earmark projects were promised?  What committee assignments were given or withdrawn?  We will never know.

What is known is the tremendous power of the Speaker and the Caucus to force members to be “dutiful team players.”  Only through fealty to the Speaker and the Caucus can a legislator become a power player.  

Fortunately, fidelity to the Speaker is countered by the informed and organized constituent.  This is a substantial change.  Formally, constituents had little knowledge of a Member of Congresses vote.  Today, there is an instantaneous reporting, followed by citizen comment and debate.  In the case of Boyd, long-time friends and supporters using modern media are spontaneously grouping together in opposition.  They feel betrayed and will vote against him.

The informed citizen spontaneously organizing is the emerging power to restore freedom in America.  Join FreedomWorks.