Discontent is growing among Democrats in Congress over their increasingly disgruntled supporters. In recent weeks, several Senators have met to explore the possibility of breaking with the Party in the next election in order to teach a lesson to their more vociferous voters. Although it remains unlikely for now that many members of Congress will forsake the Democratic Party more than temporarily, even a small split could ruin Democrats' chances of retaking either chamber in 2006.
Knowledgeable sources described a Democratic strategy session in the Senate last Friday evening at which speaker after speaker voiced impatience with what they regard as cowardly and unreasonable activists on the left wing of the Party. Congressional leaders are especially angry at the all too often inconsistent and unprincipled public stances taken by party faithful. Even their defenders at the meeting admitted that the voters are out of touch with Congress.
More on the flip.
As the meeting broke up, down the hall an ex tempore discussion coalesced around half a dozen moderate Senators who are particularly incensed at the rough treatment they've received from bloggers. Several plans were proposed at the breakaway meeting, which lasted until nearly midnight.
These included starting a new party or casting their lot in 2006 with a third party such as the Greens. There was also considerable support for the idea of refusing to participate in the next election at all so as to send the clearest possible message to the Democratic base that they could not regain the majority in Congress without them.
Further meetings among the same participants on Tuesday and Thursday failed to reach consensus about any of these plans, however, all of which are seen as risky tactics by Democratic Party leaders. One Party veteran voiced the concern that provoking significant losses in 2006 could backfire if it caused the Democratic Party to move further to the left.
Yet it could also be an embarrassment if a Democratic revolt did not produce noticeable losses. "There's no assurance that voters will even notice if we turn our backs on the Party," said one Representative who joined the discussions. "Staying home on election day will achieve nothing, but the more I look into the Green Party the more I fear their own voters who are not very flexible about special interest issues like the environment."
Still, there's palpable anger in Washington at the behavior of party rank and file. One Chief of Staff for a midwestern Senator said, "It's getting hard to ignore such aggressive Democratic voters."
A Senator from New England agreed. "Democratic voters don't have any idea how much work is involved in hammering out compromises with the Republicans, who have earned their reputation for being completely unreasonable. We can't get anywhere if we are always dropping everything to listen to complaints from our own side."
As news of a possible revolt spread this week among the Democratic core, it was greeted with incredulity. Several blogs tried to downplay the rumors even as they gained strength on Capitol Hill. Voters we interviewed expressed a mixture of annoyance and exasperation.
On Thursday morning sitting in a shabby cafe on Rhode Island Avenue, a man who would identify himself only as Bob Johnson said, "This is crazy, I don't think the Democrats have anywhere to go if they don't like the way the Party is headed. What are they going to do, run as Republicans?"
Across the street at a diner Eve, a tourist from New York, agreed. "I don't think they have the guts to do it. Every few years the Democrats start talking big, but in the end they just wimp out."
I haven't found any discussion of this article on dKos. It seems like a critical concern heading into the 2006 election, which is why I've quoted the entire report. Is this Party revolt headed anywhere, or will it fizzle once again?