you are not your political party . . . are you?

As I’ve mentioned before, I like to visit the Daily Caller from time to time to get a more conservative perspective on the day’s news. When I went over the other day, I came across this graphic:

This story piqued my interest because it dealt with a Democratic Congresswoman allegedly trying to “boot” Giffords from a committee, a seemingly counterintuitive move, and one I found especially questionable given the reason for Giffords’ current absence from Congress. Knowing the disconnect one can sometimes find between the HuffPost and Daily Caller headlines and the stories to which they link, I checked the article. And oh, man . . . what a treat.

This story has so many of the things that frustrate me about politics and political reporting these days, all tied up into one neat package. First, the details: Rep. Sanchez (D-CA) was not really trying to “boot Giffords” from the Armed Services Committee (ASC), as the headline claims. Instead, according to her Press Secretary as quoted in the article, she “inquired whether a proxy could represent the Congresswoman on the Committee at Rep. Giffords’ request” (emphasis added).

First, there’s the issue of the discrepancy between the headline and the content of the article. Asking if Giffords could request a proxy while she recovers is a far cry from a “proposal to boot” her from the committee… in fact it’s almost the exact opposite. Booting implies that Sanchez wanted to take away Giffords’ voice on the committee completely and indefinitely, while allowing a proxy would ensure that Gifford retained relevance in the ASC until she was ready to return. But with a little selective information (like including in the subtitle for the article that Sanchez “proposed removing” Giffords, which is true, but not including that she was requesting a proxy or that she was asking whether it could be done at Giffords’ request), the Daily Caller managed to turn Sanchez from a Democrat looking out for the representation of Democrats on her committee into a heartless monster who wants to use this tragedy to eliminate Giffords.

But even better is this priceless quote from an unnamed “former Democratic aide”:

“I think the congresswoman forgets what it is like to be in the minority… Minority still loses whether you have one more vote or not.”

Take a second. Let that sink in. What this unnamed Democratic aide is saying is basically this:

Democrats, don’t even bother to show up for committees. Since Republicans have the majority, and individuals never deviate from their party, the addition or subtraction of one member of the minority does not matter at all.

Sadly, I think the Democratic aide was all too right. In today’s political climate, the addition or subtraction of one minority Democrat is irrelevant, because party comes before policy when determining votes. In a robust democracy, you would expect that aide to be right about the impact of one more vote on some of the votes, maybe even most of the votes, but not ALL of the votes. In a robust democracy, you would see people voting their beliefs rather than the letter by their name, and on issues as contentious as those dealt with by the ASC* you would expect that at some point, an issue might arise in which policy objectives and constituent beliefs don’t necessarily match that letter.

But no . . . in our democracy as it exists today, a request to allow the victim of an attempted assassination to appoint a proxy while she recovers is mocked** and her actions are twisted to make her appear a monster.

When it comes to Congress, it appears Tyler Durden was wrong. You ARE NOT an individual. You ARE the “R” or “D” next to your name. You ARE your fucking khakis.

* Issues such as “defense policy generally, ongoing military operations, the organization and reform of the Department of Defense and Department of Energy, counter-drug programs, acquisition and industrial base policy, technology transfer and export controls, joint interoperability, the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, Department of Energy nonproliferation programs, and detainee affairs and policy”

** In the article, one Republican aide was quoted as saying the following in reference to the Christmas card in which Sanchez paid tribute to her recently deceased cat of 19 years: “From a woman who memorialized her cat, you’d think she’d show a little more compassion for a woman shot in the face.”

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One Response to you are not your political party . . . are you?

  1. Nicholas Kramer says:

    Love the Tyler Durden quote – I know this isn’t your point, but one thought/correction. While it may be true that the additional or subtraction of one member to a Committee may not make a difference on the voting, this ignores the most valuable contribution any individual Congresswoman or -man can make: oversight. Congressional oversight is in my view pretty much the only useful thing our elected representatives can do – keep a strict eye on what our government is doing (this is especially true for a Committee with such an important jurisdiction as Armed Services). One member can make a big difference in terms of investigations they conduct and questions they ask during Committee hearings. So, having a proxy appointed really could matter (depending on who it is and what they do, of course). Sadly, most Congressional staffers don’t work in oversight, they are political and policy freaks – and the view you mentioned from one Democratic aide unfortunately prevails.

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