A progressive sweep?
John Nichols of The Nation claims that the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is now “crowded” as a result of last week’s Midterm elections. Indeed the CPC will be growing by 8, which is almost on par with the growth of the conservative Blue Dog faction. Nick Burt and Joel Bleifuss of In These Times also chime in, writing that the Democratic takeover of the House was not a victory for centrist Democrats, but for left-leaning progressives. “CPC members will now be in a position to both promote progressive legislation and investigate administration wrongdoing.”
All of these sentiments are extremely misleading. If you combine the growth of New Democrats and Blue Dogs, two of the more conservative Democratic groups in the House, their numbers far surpass the numbers and growth of the CPC this year.
“Do the math,” Nichols challenges. “While the Blue Dogs are predicting that the membership of their caucus may grow from 37 to 44 members, and the New Democrats hope their membership will edge up from the mid-forties to over the 50 mark, the Progressives are looking at the prospect that their caucus — the most racially and regionally diverse ideological grouping in the Congress — could number more than 70 members once the new House is seated.”
Okay, let’s do the math. According to the numbers Nichols provides, the Blue Dogs grew by 7 (it’s actually going to be 8 or 9) seats and the New Democrats by at least 5. That’s a total of 12 seats gained by conservative Democrats providing no overlap between the two groups. The PCP, on the contrary, gained only 8 seats. More importantly, the total number of seats now controlled by conservative Democrats in the House is well over 90, as compared to the CPC’s 70.
Who, then may I ask, outnumbers whom? Conservative Congressional Democrats do — for they gained more House seats than progressives — and of course, that’s not taking into account that the majority of so-called progressive aren’t even all that progressive to begin with. Especially when it comes our Middle East foreign policy.
The majority of the CPC won’t embrace Rep. Murtha’s call for redeployment. And that’s a redeployment to other areas in the region, not a plea to bring our troops home now. Like their leader Nancy Pelosi, the CPC’s members also overwhelmingly support Israel and remain committed to the neo-con principles underlying Bush’s war on terror — as the majority of current members voted to support the invasion of Afghanistan.
And take Rep. Pelosi’s stance on Israel and Iran, “The greatest threat to Israel’s right to exist, with the prospect of devastating violence, now comes from Iran,” Pelosi lamented in a speech to the Israel-American lobby AIPAC in 2005. “For too long, leaders of both political parties in the United States have not done nearly enough to confront the Russians and the Chinese, who have supplied Iran as it has plowed ahead with its nuclear and missile technology.”
The push inside the Democratic Party in the House remains to the far right not the moderate-left, despite what The Nation and In These Times would have us believe.
JOSHUA FRANK is the author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush and edits http://www.BrickBurner.org