Some conservatives are trying to rationalize their thumpin’ by saying it was a victory for conservative Democrats. Perhaps they also want to claim these are conservative Democrats so that they aren’t exposed as liars when a Democratic-run government isn’t as far left as they have been warning. Paul Waldman, writing in The Boston Globe, looks at the victors and finds that “the Democratic freshman class of the 110th Congress includes a few conservatives, but overall it is made up of candidates who held traditional Democratic positions.” While some moderates did win, Harold Ford, who was the “cover boy” for those claiming a Democratic move to the right wound up losing.
Waldman found many similarities between the Democratic winners:
All of them support increasing the minimum wage, and all oppose privatizing Social Security. Nearly all support embryonic stem cell research. All except a few are pro choice. And all of these positions enjoy majority support.
So Democrats didn’t win because they moved to the right or ran conservative candidates. Many of the more conservative Democrats who ran in red states actually ended up losing. Those who won did so by opposing President Bush, questioning the war in Iraq, and carrying the Democratic banner. It was Republicans who were afraid to put their party identification on their lawn signs and in their ads.
In one sense, although not the one they intended, those who call this a victory for moderate Democrats are right. While Republicans have been reduced to the far right, Democrats now make up the center. Waldman notes, “Democrats did not win by moving to the center; they won because at the moment, they are the center. According to exit polls, independents voted Democratic by 57 to 39 percent.”