…at least by the Blue Dog Democrats. Digby, in discussing the history of the demobilization of the Democratic rank-and-file, observes (boldface mine; italics original):
Clinton was pretty good at speaking in several layers of code, but he had terrible problems in 1994, even though he delivered the economic plan he promised. And that’s because that economic plan was based on the abstraction of reducing the deficit which is a conservative talking point — even if not one Republican voted for it. He failed to get health care, of course, and passed NAFTA, another Republican initiative. (There was the retreat on DADT, too.) The base had little reason to believe that any of the things they cared about were priorities.
He personally won reelection two years later, but that was mostly because his rival was a doddering fool and the economy was coming around smartly. But there were no more big initiatives once the Republicans took congress, at least none that mattered to the base. So losing the congress is not something to fool around with unless the kind of political inertia Clinton faced is what you prefer.
While many Democrats do want big initiatives, such as healthcare reform, I assure you that the Blue Dog Democrats don’t. Not only are many of them directly subsidized by health insurance corporations, or are former employees of said corporations (Sen. Ben Nelson), but they also hew to the radical ideology of fiscal ‘conservatism.’ (Of course, that this ideology happens to result in their personal and political aggrandizement is just a coinkydink, I’m sure…).
Nelson, Bayh, and the other fiscal ‘conservatives’ don’t give a damn if Democrats are unable to pass what the majority of the party (including other elected Congresscritters) wants. The only reason they’re not Republicans is that, even if they could get past primaries in today’s Republican party, the disciplined (if insane) Republican party would smack them around–they would be insignificant backbenchers on most issues. They stick with the Democrats because they know that the Dems are easier to roll: this makes it easy to bring back federal dollars to their states. Why should they change a strategy that hasn’t fail them? (this is why Obama’s people should have held the ag bill until the end of the session. If they had any balls, they would also relocate as much as USSTRATCOM as they possibly can from Nebraska…to West Virginia. Consider it a parting gift to Senator Byrd, whose lifelong mission has been to relocate the entire federal government to WV. Also, in light of the increase in factory farming in NE, let’s have some more INS and OSHA investigations. And while we’re screwing people, somebody should hint to Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln that Tyson’s chicken might be inspected–a lot; Wal-Mart too. More Chicago-style politics, please).
Of course, if the Democrats lose their ‘filibuster-proof’ sixty seats in the Senate, all of that could change…