Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One Step Forward...

It's certainly great news to see Ted Stevens won't be coming back, but I'm wary of all this talk about bringing Democrats coming closer to the filibuster-proof 60% majority. For one thing, as we've all learned in this last election cycle, Alaska isn't like the rest of the country. It's economy is entirely dependent on oil; if Sarah Palin had been a serious candidate and not a cynical joke, this would have been an important strike against her: how would we have transitioned to alternative energy sources with a person whose constituency's economic interest run counter to, well, everyone's long-term health?

The same problem applies, though obviously on a lesser scale, for Mark Begich. He's a Democrat, but on the global warming issue specifically he won't be of any help to the party, as noted by Matt Yglesias. It's not in his interest if he wants to be re-elected.

This goes for other states as well. Part of the Democrats' 50 State Strategy, recall, is backing more conservative candidates in more conservative districts. Democrats may be more united than Republicans on Iraq, but what about taxes? Or health care? Big tents are nice, but we should keep in mind that without any national ideological shifts, it could end up that those who opposed us outside the tent continue opposing us, but from inside.

Then again, Obama's victory may yet translate to a progressive nudge amongst our other elected officials.

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