Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Much Ado

I'm not sure why, but nothing in the news today provoked any kind of response from me. I may be tired, or, after the long siege of the last twelve months on issues ranging from health care reform to the war in Afghanistan, the day-to-day stuff just doesn't look all that interesting. I admit that to view life in that respect is dangerous, that what appears drab and uninteresting at the start might evolve into something major, but at this point I just don't have the energy to suss that kind of thing out.

Take, for instance, the news that a southern Democrat has defected to the GOP. Parker Griffith of Alabama found that the "liberal" ideas on health care were just too antithetical to his mind set, so he defected. His staff thought it a big deal, enough of a deal that all but the congressman's scheduler quit, according to the NY Times.

All but one of the Washington staffers for Rep. Parker Griffith resigned on Monday in protest of the Alabama congressman's decision to switch from the Democratic to the Republican Party.

In a sharply worded statement, Griffith's former chief of staff, Sharon Wheeler, called the freshman congressman's switch a ''mistake'' that goes against the interests of his district, which relies heavily on federal funding for defense and aerospace jobs. ...

Wheeler said Griffith made a ''well-intentioned but misguided'' decision. She said he abandoned the legacy of conservative Democratic leadership in the north Alabama district, which includes Huntsville.
[Emphasis added]

Now, Mr. Griffith has been voting pretty much with the Republicans since he was sworn in, so his loss isn't really a huge one for the Democrats. While the party leadership was happy to tout "the numbers" when it came to the House Majority, what really counts is the legislation that gets passed and Mr. Griffith was no help there. Further, I'm pretty sure Mr. Griffith's voting record isn't exactly what President Obama had in mind in his quest for "bipartisanship".

What did intrigue me, however, was that part of his former chief of staff's comments bolded above, the "conservative Democratic leadership" phrase. It is possible that what we are seeing in this defection is another seed of a movement towards a multiple party system, one in which both parties are fractured into smaller parties that are more representative of the ideologies currently in play.

After all, what does a liberal Democrat have in common with Mr. Griffith? Certainly not the ideals of Franklin D. Roosevelt or the earlier George Wallace. And really, as big a pain as the two senators from Maine have been in the health care debate, they certainly don't share the ideology of someone like Sarah Palin.

There are a lot of possibilities, given the more contentious issues currently in play, but social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, Blue Dogs, liberals, and DLC-types might all be happier in their own enclaves, forming coalitions around issues that interest each sector. It might make for a more responsive Congress. It certainly would make for more interesting elections.

But then, today I'm tired of most of it. Maybe tomorrow I'll have a different view.



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