The Party of Discipline


I have been bleating on about this since theater critic Frank Rich's intemperate-stroke-incoherent column about the "Stalinists" opposing Dede Scozzfava, but here is yet another example of a sinister political party purging its more moderate members:

Democratic Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu is out as keynote speaker for the Palm Beach County Democratic Party's annual fund-raising dinner next week because party leaders dislike her stance on health care reform, county Democratic Chairman Mark Alan Siegel said today.

Landrieu, a moderate who recently described herself as "extremely concerned about a government-run, taxpayer-funded, national public plan," has not committed to voting to cut off a likely Republican filibuster and forcing a vote on the legislation.

Democrats need 60 votes to invoke "cloture" and force a vote.

"We just didn't want to have a keynote speaker who's not committed to cloture. It would have just been wrong," said Siegel, who said party higher-ups and rank-and-file members had voiced displeasure with the choice of Landrieu as a keynoter.

Full story. This, incidentally, is referred to by its practitioners as enforcing "party discipline," which is rather different than a "plan to purge moderates."

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  1. I have a feeling that cloture is going to be equivalent to sequential cloture.

    1. Only in your space.

  2. Party discipline. Sounds like something Stalin would say, doesn’t it?

    American freedom is jumping the shark.

    1. “American freedom is jumping the shark.”

      Oh do give it a rest.

      1. I’m just making a funny. We jumped the shark a while back.

  3. The Dems are getting desperate. They are starting to realize they’re going to lose their ability to pass Jack Shit in a year.

    1. They just have to hold out until the stimulus floodgates open in the summer of 2010 and the economy temporarily improves.

      The fix is in, mark my words. The lunatics are in charge of the asylum.

      1. A point on which Lysander Spooner and Jefferson Davis agreed.

        1. As did Abe Lincoln, and that’s more important given the mountains of experience his family had with asylums.

      2. I agree Tulpa.

    2. I disagree, I think they are stalling. When the 2010 stimulus goodies floweth, the current hubbub will be largely forgotten. I have total faith in the short-term memory of US voters (and their ability to be bought).

  4. Fuck ’em. Such a low bar they had, too. Yet they’ve managed to be worse than the GOP.


    A “Discipline Party”!

    I thought Louisiana had laws against that kind of thing.

    1. Laws yes. Enforcement? not so much.

      1. Talk to David Vitter about that.

  6. Meh. Republicans are just as lock-step when it comes to their pet issues – the War on Drugs, abortion, gay marriage, yadda yadda.

    1. True enough. My condemnation of the Democrats in particular has more to do with other stuff that with its internal tactics.

    2. Yes they are, it’s just usually treated as sinister by most media outlets when Republicans do it.

  7. Why shouldn’t both parties purge “moderates”? Maybe it will spur the creation of a third party.

    Not likely, but still.

    1. was there a binge before there was a purge?

      1. Yes, there was. But you weren’t invited to participate.

  8. “Why shouldn’t both parties purge “moderates”?”

    This debate reminds me of debates within the Roman Catholic Church about what to do with those “cafeteria” catholics. My stance has always been that there are plenty of other Christian Churches. Why not find one that better reflects your values? So I say the same thing to Republicans and Democrats. Why not find (or create!) a political party that better reflects your values?

    1. They don’t want to create a new party, because the old party fits them just fine. It may be too long in the sleeves, but they’re not going to toss it out.

      Most conservatives stick with the Republican Party, because they secretly like big government, or want to remain intolerant, or want to police the behavior of their neighbors. Joining the Libertarians won’t give them that.

      On the other side of the spectrum, liberals really don’t want the warmed over socialism of the Greens. They want to keep a modern corporate economy, they don’t want to be excessively taxed, etc.

  9. I think the distinction is actually reasonable. Landrieu isn’t being excluded for her moderation on whether or not to vote for the bill, but for not ruling out a vote with the Republicans on the procedural issue of cloture. Breaking with a party on the procedural issue of whether to even allow a majority vote on a bill, as I understand it, is a pretty infrequent and viewed as a serious breach of discipline. There are several Democrats who will probably vote against the healthcare bill if it includes a public option, but won’t join the Republicans in trying to block a vote on it; I doubt they suffer any negative consequences for that position.

    1. So the Republicans would be justified in disciplining Snowe and Collins if they vote for cloture (against the party leadership)?

      1. Why wouldn’t they be?

        They are free to associate with Snowe and Collins or not as they please. If they can be denied privileges or committee seats under Senate rules I don’t see any problem with it.

    2. Breaking with a party on the procedural issue of whether to even allow a majority vote on a bill, as I understand it, is a pretty infrequent and viewed as a serious breach of discipline.

      Your understanding is badly lacking. The Senate, unlke the House, essentially NEVER enforces any party discipline.

      If the Dems annoy Landrieu enough she can simply jump to the other side, as several Senators have done over the years. (Specter) Being an R would make her re-election easier also.

  10. In Louisiana, our executive is usually red, but our federal legislators are usually blue (esp senators). This is because they want to win New Orleans, which has a ton of democratic votes. So, if things weren’t so, Landrieu (along with the previous senator, Breaux) would have probably been republicans.

    1. I don’t understand, aren’t your governor and your senators elected by the exact same electorate? Why does NO affect the party affiliation of one bunch of elected officials and not the other?

  11. It’s just like how these people call for respect of democracy in California when rules prevent them from raising taxes without a 2/3 majority, but decry the tyranny of the majority when they vote against gay marriage.

  12. Tulpa: I would expect them to, especially if they had a 60-seat Republican majority they couldn’t use because of crossovers. It would be a lot smarter than running teabag candidates against establishment Republicans and guaranteeing defeat.

    1. Would you mind substituting for “teabag?” How about pussysucker?

  13. We should ban political parties. Not in the right of association sense but in the sense that they are built into the functioning and structure of government.

  14. The only people we hate worse than the Romans are the fucking Judean People’s Front..


  15. Its the typical Democrat double standard with projection.
    Dems crack the whip, force cigarette bans and hate speech, and economic fascism, and then Reps get blamed for purging the mods, excessive social controls, and fascism.

    Meh. The only reason libertarians pretend Reps and Dems are equal offenders is because otherwise no one could tell a libertarian apart from a social conservative ninety percent of the time.

  16. Kebin Carson: that should be “tea party” candidates, not “teabag” candidates. The principled, conservative/libertarian folks who finally rose up and expressed their disgust with the political establishment are not, in any way, affiliated with those who promote disgusting sexual practices. (What they do in the privacy of their own homes, of course, is their business.)

  17. The Democrats never ran on instituting government health-care. They won power by pounding the GOP on the Iraq war, torture, rendition, Gitmo, the deficit, etc.

    Now that they have power, they show zero interest in following up on the issues they campaigned on. Why, it’s almost like it was all a sham the whole time …

  18. I’m glad to hear that Landrieu is “extremely concerned” about the health care disaster currently being contemplated in Washington, but how this lady still has a job period kind of baffles me.

    No reference to Senator Landrieu would be complete without this classic Wuzzadem post..


  19. The Democrats never ran on instituting government health-care.

    The Democrats have been running on instituting government health-care for the last seventy-five years or so.

    Now if you want to argue that it’s rarely the platform plank that gets them elected you’d probably be right.

    Of course, in the end they have never been able to pass any universal health care plan because enough people figure out how much the free healthcare is going to cost them and decide it’s not such a hot idea after all.

    So, in the end you get a lot of blustery talk and a little tinkering at the margins.

  20. The Democrats’ problem right now is lack of party discipline; they have strong majorities in both houses but can’t hold them together on key legislation. So cracking the whip a bit is appropriate.

    The Republicans’ problem right now is lack of seats in Congress. So purging moderate Senators and Representatives (and moderate candidates who might win elections) is insane.

    Speaking as a Democrat, I hope the Republicans go right on purging – they won’t be able to muster enough Senators to make up a subcommittee if they do. I think the party leadership is smarter than that though.

  21. The Democrats’ problem right now is lack of party discipline

    They could always try bondage. It keeps the members from moving around so much.


  22. Wait a minute. When I posted the button said submit.

    Are you guys into something I don’t know about?

  23. Landrieu has consistently done a good job as a Senator. I have been a Louisianian for 12 years now, and generally vote Republican, but Landrieu always does a decent job. She was one of the few people in the state government/power structure of Louisiana who accurately assessed what needed to be done after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and was ultimately one of the forces behind breaking the deadlock of stupidity and indecision that was set up by the then governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and N.O. Mayor Ray Nagin. At that time she had only been in the Senate a very short time. Since then she has shown both a decent understanding of issues, and perhaps most importantly a willingness to buck the party line when it does not adhere to the beliefs and values of the voters who put her in office.

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