Why the Dems won’t take the House

I don’t know if I believe this (remember 2006?) but Ralph Nader makes a compelling argument:

Of course, there are more factors involved. When I asked a top House Democrat what the real reason was for deep-sixing the minimum wage increase to catch up with 1968, he rubbed his thumb and two fingers together, and said, “They feel they’d raise less money if they did that.” Money, it seems, counts more than votes in this bizarre equation of the people with whom the party should stand.


So Cong. George Miller sits on his recently introduced bill to increase the minimum wage to $9.80 by 2014 because he is waiting for Obama. His House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi waits for Obama. So do the close campaigns of Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Chris Murphy in Massachusetts and Connecticut respectively, along with many close House races. (See Time For a Raise for more information.)


When I spoke to other leading progressive Democrats to assert themselves, jurisdictional turf presented itself. No senior Democrat in the House runs first with any labor issues other than Cong. George Miller, from the progressive San Francisco area, no less. Nor do any other senior Democrats run first with any energy and environmental issues other than ranking Committee member, Cong. Ed Markey. Markey and his allies privately wring their hands over Obama’s silence on climate change during the President’s daily campaigns. But the word from all quarters of the Democratic Party is not to move if Obama doesn’t move. You would not want to show up the President’s inaction, would you?


Yet, the Democrats have their own interest in winning their own Congressional elections, whether or not Obama cares about them. Doesn’t seem to matter. Following Obama means they may follow him as a party over the cliffs of defeat while he rides to the top of the Hill. You see the vast majority of incumbent Democrats are in safe districts and their seats are secure. Retaking the majority in the House is another matter. Personal career complacency does not vigorously propel a party drive to win back the House, regardless of what Obama chooses to permit.


What do the House Democrats owe Obama anyhow? He raises no money for them. He campaigns without them, thereby depriving them of mass media coverage. Even the Congressional Black Caucus is replete with indignation at how Obama has dissed them and their poverty issues since day one of his presidency.


After Election Day, November 6, contemporary historians will write that the Congressional Democrats waited too long on Obama and wasted their chance to win back the House and gain more seats in the Senate.


This is the politics of presidential personalismo run riot – inexplicable precisely because it has become so suicidal to the Congressional Democrats and to justice for the people for whom they claim to speak.

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