14 February 2019

Neo-Liberals Are Not Republicans

Statement (from my Facebook feed):
bennett legislates pretty much like a republican! Horrible choice! I’d NEVER vote for him! EVER!!!

My Response: 

This isn't accurate. 

U.S. Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO) Does Not Legislate Pretty Much Like A Republican

U.S. Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO) votes with D's on issues with a partisan divide about 92% of the time.  

Bennett has a more liberal than conservative voting record on every kind of issue, but is more conservative on economic issues than on social issues and foreign policy. See the National Journal's analysis from 2013 and a summary of issue by issue single issue voting scores for Bennett from myriad organizations. 

Bennett is a comparative moderate within the Democratic caucus in Congress, but he is to the left of even the most moderate Republican in either the House or the Senate.  

Inaccurate Hyperbole Like This Is Actively Harmful To A Liberal Agenda

The kind of inaccurate hyperbole that says that Bennett "legislates pretty much like a republican", undermines everyone on the left, from the most progressive to the most moderate, and helps Republicans, by ignoring the meaningful differences that exist between candidates from the two parties, causing people with solidly liberal political views to fail to participate in keeping unequivocal conservatives who actively and fiercely oppose everything that they believe in, out of power. 

Ultimately, I'd prefer to have more reliably liberal voting elected officials who are Democrats to moderate Democrats, and it is legitimate to work to make that happen. 

But, that cause is not well served by inaccurately describing the facts about any particular moderate/neo-liberal/corporatist/conservative Democrat's voting record. Using inaccurate statements to eat our own only helps the bad guys.

Few Democrats Overlap Republicans In Political Ideology, Especially After The 2018 Election

There are only 2 actual Democrats in the Senate (and one independent who caucuses with the Democrats) whose voting records overlap with any Republicans in the House or the Senate: Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jon Tester (D-MT), and finally Angus King-I-ME who caucuses with the Dems. Tester and King are to the left of every Republican in the Senate except Senator Susan Colins (R-ME). But, Michael Bennett (D-CO) absolutely isn't one of them. And all three of these moderates are more liberal than the Republican candidates that they have faced in elections in their home states. Collins is much less conservative the the runner up as the most moderate Republican in the U.S. Senate, who is Sen. Robert “Rob” Portman (R-OH).

In the House, there are 7 Democrats who more conservative than even one Republican in the House or Senate. They are from most conservative to less conservative are: Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN7); Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ); Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX28); Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI3); Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ5); Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA16); Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR5). And, all seven of them are more liberal than the Republican candidates that they have faced in elections in their House Districts. The least conservative Republican in the House is Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA23). The runner up to McCarthy in the House GOP caucus with an almost identical political ideology is Rep. John Curtis (R-UT3). Four of the seven "overlap" moderate Democrats in the House are more liberal than every Republican in the House except for these two men.

The Democrats and Republicans became significantly more distinct as legislative parties in terms of political ideology in the 2018 election because moderates on both sides, died, retired, lost in a primary, or lost in the general election. The Senate lost a total of six Senators who could arguably be considered moderates (some from both parties). The House lost 53 moderates (some from both parties). Essentially no freshmen in the House or the Senate from the 2018 election are fairly described as having moderate voting records so far.

Elected Officials Are More Partisan Than Democrats

It is also worth noting that while the political ideology of elected officials in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate is bimodal, with one peak in the middle of the GOP caucus and the other in the middle of the Democratic caucus, that the political ideological of voters nationwide is a single bell curve with a peak between the GOP and the Democratic party peaks. 

The median U.S. voter is closest to Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR5) in the House (only three Republicans in the House are less conservative than him and only five Democrats in the House are more conservative than him) and in the Senate the median U.S. voter is closest to Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) who is the least conservative Republican in the Senate (two Democrats and one independent caucusing with the Democrats are more conservative than her). Bennet votes well to the left of what would be expected for a Senator from Colorado in a model based on voter political leanings in each state


I'm not naming the person who made the statement or linking to it because many people say similar things and calling someone out for saying something like this isn't the point. But, to avoid a "straw man" argument I'm quoting a real FB comment rather than my own paraphrase of one.


neo said...


how would you feel about your political affiliation if the democrats of Colorado turn your state into a functional equivalent of a california, illinois new york disaster area of high taxes, homeless, drugs, and huge debts and unfunded pensions, failing schools?

would you move, and if you did, would you still vote democrat?

andrew said...

California, Illinois and New York are not disaster areas. They are examples of economies managed much better with much better results than those of typical red states. California, in particular, has done many good things that should be emulated (although obviously no state's policies are 100% good).

andrew said...

The high taxes are a natural accompaniment to adequate investment in the public sector. Kansas is an excellent example of the disaster that flows from too little taxation.

Pretty much no state government in the United States has significant debts, and almost all of them (Colorado included) have underfunded pensions.

There is no legitimate basis to claim that California, Illinois or New York have "failing public schools" overall. Indeed, Colorado has much more of a shortfall in public education, which it greatly underfunds, than any of those states.

Drugs are not a particular problem relative to other states in California, Illinois or New York. The opioid overdose crisis is especially acute in areas with lots of rural poverty, like West Virginia and Kentucky, and not prosperous urban areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago or New York City.

There is homelessness everywhere. Homelessness can be higher in prosperous urban areas because they are more desirable places to live which makes housing prices rise and hence become less affordable, and also because people locate where services for them can be found. Where housing is very affordable it is because people are leaving rather than coming and there are poor job prospects.

Much of the good in Colorado comes from following California trends.

I sense in your comment a deep lack of knowledge regarding the facts upon which you are basing your stereotypes.