I don’t tend to read the stories about freshly-elected politicians getting sworn in, but I wanted to flag this one about Matt Cartwright in PA-17 because this is a real success story about liberals practicing politics correctly.
I’ve seen a lot of liberals get disappointed in bad votes from Democrats, and then just get depressed and accept defeat - they whine about how they’ll never vote again, or say they’ll quit following politics, etc.
That’s not what the Tea Party does! When the Tea Party gets rolled by Republican politicians, they primary those politicians. They replace people who don’t agree with them with people who do, and they send a message to other Republicans that the same could happen to them if they break ranks.
Replacing the more-conservative Blue Dog Tim Holden with the less-conservative Matt Cartwright is a great example of liberals doing politics the right way. The new 17th District clearly was able to accommodate a less conservative politician than Tim Holden, so liberals seized the opportunity to change him out for someone who would vote with us more often.
Now, we don’t want to get greedy like the Tea Party and try to shoehorn movement progressive candidates into districts where they don’t fit. A liberal will never win a general election in PA-12, for instance.
But there’s a fair amount of room to push the Democratic Party further left by winning more primary challenges in safe districts. There are only about 35 swing districts left, but Nate Silver says there are about 117 Landslide Dem districts and 39 Strong Dem districts. How many of the Democrats in those safe districts support a carbon tax? How many support a strong public health insurance option? How many support Obamacare’s health care cost controls? The safe districts are a good place to start pushing the left wing of the possible further leftward, testing out new issues, and recruiting a deeper bench of progressive candidates for higher office.