Sunday, February 17, 2008

The "Edwards Effect"? I Wish ...

Rep. David Obey lectures a military mom about Iraq. Screenshot taken by Cujo359 from this YouTube

Over at Firedoglake, Pachacutec wondered:

So, within 48 hours after Donna Edwards trounces Al Wynn, the House decides to flip off the administration on the "Protect America Act" FISA bill with telecom immunity. OpenLeft cites Canadian broadcasting reporting, of Edwards' win:

can tell you one thing, on Capitol Hill following the Maryland primary, the elected officials and their staff members that I spoke with spent more time talking about Wynn and Gilchrist, than they did about Obama and McCain.


Donna's win represented a new model of progressive primary challenges against the corporate agenda including the netroots, progressive activists, labor (SEIU), MoveOn, EMILY's List, environmental groups and others. This is something new: there has not previously been sufficient power or a playbook in place to break the incumbency protection racket. That's enough to give House Dems pause, to say the least.

Coincidence, or not?

The Donna Edwards Effect?

Maybe. You can never discount the possibility that the Congress suddenly stopped being self-absorbed rich folks who are convinced that they're entitled to have political things their way, and become aware of who they actually work for. I suppose that's possible.

But, as a non-psychologist treading on Pachacutec's area of expertise, I'd have to say that there's at least one thing that argues against this - acceptance of a new reality is usually the third or fourth stage in this process. We still haven't gotten past anger and hostility yet.

Many of us, including folks much smarter than I have observed that this is a Congress that feels as though it's above the concerns of most of us. It really doesn't seem to give a shit about what's going on in Iraq, particularly if you look at the legislation it's passed since taking office last year. We've had to beg it repeatedly to uphold its oath in matters like FISA and torture. To them, I suspect we netroots folks, and the citizenry at large whose opinions we represent, are just troublesome little pests. For people who feel so entitled, hostility is the next step, not acceptance. We haven't seen that hostility yet, near as I can tell.

They certainly don't view us as their equals. Remember Rep. David Obey (D-WI-07) lecturing a military mom about how difficult an issue Iraq was? How arrogant do you have to be to lecture a parent worried about her child's life being lost in a useless war about how hard it is to get him out of it? When was the last time you felt inclined to negotiate with a subordinate or a household pet? When they get uppity, the natural reaction is to scold, yell, threaten, or otherwise display hostility or anger. If you're one of those who realize that almost all dealings with your fellow creatures are a negotiation of some sort, good for you. Sadly, I think you're in the minority.

So yes, it's certainly possible that the Democrats in Congress have seen the light, but I think we're still a long way from that point. I don't have an alternative explanation, but that's beside the point. Coincidence doesn't require explanation.

UPDATE: David Obey is a Representative from Wisconsin, not Ohio. Fixed the text to reflect that.

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