Thursday, February 26, 2009

Accountability Now

Hey, a new PAC to help out in the cause of party polarization:

Some of the most prominent names in progressive politics launched a major new organization on Thursday dedicated to pinpointing and aiding primary challenges against incumbent Democrats who are viewed as acting against their constituents' interests.

Accountability Now PAC will officially be based in Washington D.C., though its influence is designed to be felt in congressional districts across the country. The group will adopt an aggressive approach to pushing the Democratic Party in a progressive direction; it will actively target, raise funds, poll and campaign for primary challengers to members who are either ethically or politically out-of-touch with their voters. The goal, officials with the organization say, is to start with 25 potential races and dwindle it down to eight or 10; ultimately spending hundreds of thousands on elections that usually wouldn't be touched.

The philosophy of this PAC is that members of Congress are not representing their constituents well. This is half right. Most members of Congress deviate from their constituents, but in the more extreme direction, not the more moderate one. Michael Herron, among others, has demonstrated this nicely. There are plenty of moderate congressional districts and states. Moderate members of Congress are an endangered species.

Of course, a group like Accountability Now is probably less concerned with how elected officials vote in the aggregate than how they vote on a few key issues. Joe Lieberman, on average, has a moderate-liberal voting record. He's pretty in step with his Connecticut constituents (try saying that five times fast). But he was way out of step on the war, and that's the main reason Connecticut Democrats kicked him out of the party.

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