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Inscrutable Vermont Senator single handedly changes US political landscape.

By yankeehack in Op-Ed
Thu May 24, 2001 at 05:19:22 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

This morning at 9.30am EST, a seismic tremor of sorts emanated just a few miles from my home. In an emotional speech to his constituents and to the nation, Vermont Senator James Jeffords defected from the Republican Party to become an Independent who will caucus with the Democratic party.


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The tremor

If you have seen or heard any American news source within the last 48 hours, this anticipated announcement has been the lead story. While political defections are not uncommon, most have garnered scant attention from the national press because of their relative insignificance to the nation at large. However, Senator Jeffords' decision will immediately change the political landscape of the Senate and quite possibly the nation until at least the 2002 elections. In short, Democrats are now in charge of the Senate, and Republicans are out.

Pragmatically, what does this all mean?

Tom Daschle (D-SD) is now the top contender for Senate Majority leader. The Senate Majority leader determines what legislation is brought to the Senate floor for discussion. Senate Committee chairmanships will revert from Republicans to Democrats. It is in committee where proposed legislation is first discussed and is either killed or passed along to the Majority Leader for consideration by the whole Senate. Republican Vice President Dick Cheney will play a diminshed tie breaking role as President of the Senate. (Note: Check out the US Senate homepage if you are unfamiliar with how the Senate works.) Finally, let us not forget that the Bush White House will not have as much leeway in promoting legislation as they would with a Republican Majority Leader.

So is this a surprise?

The Jeffords decision is not only significant for its immediate political ramifications, but it is also heralding a philosophical change in the Grand Old Party. While most New England Republicans including Lincoln Chaffee, R-RI and Olympia Snowe, R-ME are viewed as moderate, Jeffords has been known as a maverick ever since he was first elected to Congress in 1974. During his Senate career, he is known for such actions as voting against Reagan's 1981 tax cut, the Gulf War and President Clinton's impeachment. Jeffords was one of the few Republicans who regularly supported legislation for such causes as abortion, education and the environment. In his speech this morning, Jeffords noted that even though he recently disagreed with President George Bush, he felt that there was a problem with the Republican party at large. With the rise of party political leaders from the South and West, the GOP has been promoting an agenda more fiscally and socially conservative and leaving moderates like Jeffords behind.

Additionally, Vermont's political landscape has been changing towards a far more liberal slant since the days of Jeffords' father, a stalwart Republican State Supreme Court Judge. Jeffords defection marks the first time in 144 years that a Republican has not held this Senate seat from Vermont. Today, the Green Mountain state boasts only one Republican in elective office (state treasurer). Last year, Vermont made headlines for our first in the nation adoption of Civil Unions, a legal parallel to marriage which allows gay and lesbian couples the civil benefits which heterosexual couples enjoy. Finally, let us not forget that Bernie Sanders, I-VT is the only self described Socialist in the House of Representatives.

As a Vermonter

Even though I am presently a registered Democrat (conservative), I voted to re-elect Jeffords to a third Senate term last fall. However, I must admit feeling a bit cheated by this decision, especially that his political transformation seemingly occurred only six months after winning a tough re-election campaign. I know that there is very little love lost between Jeffords and the Vermont GOP. While attending a GOP event last fall, I witnessed firsthand the very chilly reception Jeffords and another moderate politician recieved from fellow Vermont Republicans.

The End

At this writing, the future for Senator Jeffords looks mixed. At 67 years of age, he still has 5 1/2 years to look forward as a Senator. Or, if the local pundits are correct, he might leave the Senate and run for Vermont Governor in 2002. If you saw this morning's speech, there were plenty of supporters (and some detractors) on hand cheering his decision. But no matter where his personal political fortunes might lie, we all must admit, that today, a Senator from Vermont single handedly changed the national political landscape.

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Poll
What do you think about Jeffords' action?
o He should have "transformed" before he got re-elected 20%
o He just did it for politcal reasons 4%
o He has the right to change parties 39%
o Heck, I'm moving to Vermont! 15%
o The composition of the Senate doesn't bother me, either way. 6%
o Just another reason why the US should go for a parliamentary system. 12%

Votes: 132
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Vermont Senator James Jeffords
o If you have seen or heard any American news source within the last 48 hours
o While political defections are not uncommon
o Senate Committee chairmanships
o role as President of the Senate
o US Senate homepage
o Grand Old Party
o Jeffords has been known as a maverick
o a far more liberal slant
o the Green Mountain state
o Bernie Sanders, I-VT
o Vermont GOP
o plenty of supporters (and some detractors)
o Also by yankeehack


Display: Sort:
Inscrutable Vermont Senator single handedly changes US political landscape. | 116 comments (94 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
Well done! (2.70 / 10) (#1)
by darthaya on Thu May 24, 2001 at 01:36:40 PM EST

A very well done article that presents many facts. :)

I am glad that stubborn conservative hardcore Republicans finally have to wake up from their "big corporations rule" dream. And most to my joy is that the foreign policy commitee can have a different voice now. I personally think Bush's foreign policy has sucked so far.


foreign relations commitee (2.33 / 3) (#8)
by RocketJeff on Thu May 24, 2001 at 01:54:23 PM EST

I forgot about that... Ignore my other comment, not having Jesse Helms as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee makes me happy that Jeffords left the Republican Party - whatever the situation!

[ Parent ]
what does that have to do with anything? (3.00 / 7) (#32)
by cory on Thu May 24, 2001 at 03:16:24 PM EST

"And most to my joy is that the foreign policy commitee can have a different voice now. I personally think Bush's foreign policy has sucked so far. "

I gather you're from Europe, so here're some clarifications for you. First, the US Senate does not have a foriegn policy committee, it has a foreign affairs committee. That committee doesn't set US foreign policy, that's the sole province of the executive branch (President and State Department). Rather, it controls how the Senate votes on a number of foriegn policy related budget matters (especially espionage, but not defense), and works on ratifying (or not) treaties.

Hope that helps.

Cory


[ Parent ]
More important then you think (3.75 / 4) (#37)
by RocketJeff on Thu May 24, 2001 at 03:57:53 PM EST

Don't forget, Jesse Helms (now-former Chairman) held up UN dues (by not allowing the appropriations bill to leave the committee) and held up Ambassadorial nominees from being voted on by the entire Senate.

Youre right, the executive branch runs foreign policy, but if it isn't funded then it can't be run.

[ Parent ]

no, that's as important as i think (2.66 / 3) (#41)
by cory on Thu May 24, 2001 at 04:17:43 PM EST

I only listed two examples of how the foreign relations committee can screw up the plans of the executive branch by withholding funds. You just listed two more.

Cory


[ Parent ]
right on! (1.00 / 3) (#78)
by ubu on Fri May 25, 2001 at 11:30:40 AM EST

It was definitely better during the Clinton years. We bombed so many more people. Plus, those 600,000 dead Rwandans. That was kickass.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Fortunately (none / 0) (#108)
by Betcour on Sun May 27, 2001 at 08:14:26 AM EST

With all the American help Israel is getting, and the good pat on the back, they can too kill all the Palestinians. Only they'll use shinny new F16 and Apache instead of those silly knives the Rwandans had to use.

[ Parent ]
hell yeah (none / 0) (#112)
by ubu on Tue May 29, 2001 at 10:57:19 AM EST

Well, yeah. What do you expect when people get in the way of international politics like that? Retards.

It is fascinating, though... seems like the higher-tech our weapons get, the fewer people we're killing at one go. Sure, the Israelis will kill a lot of Palestinians, but not 600,000! And we Americans lost more people subduing the political dissidents of the South between 1861 and 1865 than we lost in any other war, even with the destructive weapons of World War II.

It's an unfortunate side-effect of technology that we're more "surgical" butchers. Fortunately, it's offset by the increasing frequency of our bloodbath escapades. We're getting into wars every few years, nowadays, and we've never been so civilized about it.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Big Corporations Rule dream (3.00 / 2) (#82)
by MAXOMENOS on Fri May 25, 2001 at 01:17:14 PM EST

Yeah, with the GOP in charge, we can now count on the Democratic Party to implement their own vision of Big Corporations Ruling.

Hey, don't get mad at me, get mad at the Democratic Leadership Council ("our motto: if we look like the Republicans, we won't get Dukakis'd again.")

Although I am glad that conservative judges aren't going to just get rubber-stamped onto Federal benches.
We need an ODMG implementation that's open source. ObJectBridge is one candidate, and it needs volun
[ Parent ]
A couple of issues (4.40 / 10) (#4)
by RocketJeff on Thu May 24, 2001 at 01:44:56 PM EST

I have only 2 real problems with his action:

1. It was done just after he was reelected. His party affiliation helped him raise money and help insure a base electorate that he wouldn't have had if he ran as an independent. I've heard some (Republican) politicians say that he should resign his position and run in a special election. This is interesting since the current Governor of Vermont would have to appoint an interim Senator who would probably be a Democrat (since the Governor is a Democrat).

2. There's one less moderate in the Republican party. I wish he would have stayed since he was one of the moderating forces in the party. I fear that the Republican's will swing even further to the right. OTOH, if the swing to the right happens, it might open the door for one of the fiscally conservative but socially liberal 3rd parties.

It will be interesting to see the effects as they ripple through the government.

When was it done? (none / 0) (#115)
by coffee17 on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 07:18:50 PM EST

1. It was done just after he was reelected.

No it wasn't. It was done after Bush's first 100 days. So much for his claims of being a uniter, not a divider. He made campaign speeches of being a vanilla wash cloth which Jeffords could probaby deal wtih. But when he came to the plate, he snubbed non-hardline republicans, appointed right wing extremists to positions of power (cough: Ashcroft ... and the likely new drug czar isn't too great either), helped weaken the separation of church and state, and many other such actions, which could easily push a non-hardline republican (He never was a hardliner) into a show of non-support.

-coffee


[ Parent ]

*whew* (4.00 / 18) (#5)
by DesiredUsername on Thu May 24, 2001 at 01:45:19 PM EST

I always feel more comfortable when the executive and legislative branches are in opposition. Less damage gets done that way.

Play 囲碁
He's still Jim Jeffords (4.23 / 17) (#9)
by eann on Thu May 24, 2001 at 01:54:39 PM EST

What annoys me most when I see the news coverage of this are the Republican Vermonters that NECN seems to have found.

Come on, people. This is the same man you voted for.

He has not changed his personality, nor is he likely to change the way he votes on anything. After two terms in the Senate, you ought to know by now he hasn't been sticking to the Republican party line. If you only voted for him because he was registered Republican, you're a flaming hypocrite, and should be extradited to someplace like Georgia where you can vote for anyone and get a conservative.

The CNN story had some quote from a senator telling him he wasn't going to get the money he wanted for special education from the Democrats. What a petty slimebag. He's not worth linking to.

I like Jim Jeffords more now than I did last week. If I lived a few miles north of here, I'd vote for him (assuming he runs again in 2006). He finally figured out he was inconsistent with the GOP, so he left. Chafee and Snowe oughta consider it. As should Zell Miller and a handful of other conservative Democrats. The two-party system is bad enough without having mass ideological overlap.


Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. —MLK

$email =~ s/0/o/; # The K5 cabal is out to get you.


timing is suspect (3.66 / 12) (#14)
by Delirium on Thu May 24, 2001 at 02:13:36 PM EST

Of course, the question still remains of whether this was a dishonest move on his part just to get elected. He ran as a Republican and then just after getting elected with Republican campaign money, switched to an Independent. Why didn't he switch before the election? Simple: he wouldn't have had the Republican campaign money, and might well have not won (since Independents rarely win elections, and almost never win Senate seats).

[ Parent ]
Am I missing something? (4.63 / 11) (#18)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu May 24, 2001 at 02:24:08 PM EST

He ran as a Republican and then just after getting elected with Republican campaign money, switched to an Independent.
Did he get voted in via a special election? I thought that most senatorial races were held in the fall, meaing that it's been well over six months since his election. A lot can change in six months, especially with a new president in office for half of that time.

My interpretation was that he had high hopes that GWB would walk the path of bipartisanship he is always speaking of and was vastly dissapointed and decided to leave the party.

[ Parent ]

reasons for switching (3.33 / 9) (#20)
by Delirium on Thu May 24, 2001 at 02:29:45 PM EST

Did he get voted in via a special election? I thought that most senatorial races were held in the fall, meaing that it's been well over six months since his election. A lot can change in six months, especially with a new president in office for half of that time.

Ah, well I suppose my definition of "just" was a bit looser than yours. =] He's been in office since January, when the new Congress was sworn in, so that makes 4 or so months.

My interpretation was that he had high hopes that GWB would walk the path of bipartisanship he is always speaking of and was vastly dissapointed and decided to leave the party.

I've seen a bunch of explanations or attempts at explanations for why he left, but he himself doesn't seem to be very forthcoming. He had consistently opposed many of Bush's bills (the original tax bill for example, though he voted for the final version), and apparently felt that Bush was being antagonistic towards him because of that. People speculate that he felt snubbed at not being invited to a Teacher of the Year event at the White House honoring a Vermont teacher (though the Bush spokeman claims that inviting Senators to those events is not a regular practice, so if that's true it doesn't seem he was really snubbed; he just wasn't specially accomodated). There's a bunch of other possible reasons, but it'd be nice if he'd just say himself why.

[ Parent ]

He did say why (4.78 / 14) (#26)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu May 24, 2001 at 02:45:57 PM EST

Read his thoughts on the matter

[ Parent ]
Re: timing is suspect (3.00 / 1) (#98)
by ncc74656 on Sat May 26, 2001 at 02:53:25 AM EST

Of course, the question still remains of whether this was a dishonest move on his part just to get elected.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if this was the case...after all, how many politicians can you name outside the Big Two parties?

He ran as a Republican and then just after getting elected with Republican campaign money, switched to an Independent. Why didn't he switch before the election?

Another possibility would've been for him to resign from the Senate and run for office under his new affiliation the next time around. Back in the early 80s (I think), Phil Gramm was elected as a Democrat. When he saw that his views and the Dems' views were seriously diverging, he resigned, changed to the GOP, and won his old office back in the next election.

Such an action, of course, requires a willingness to do what's right. A linguini-spined "moderate" (RINO would be a better description: Republican In Name Only) like Jim Jeffords is usually inclined more to do what's expedient than what is right. So much for dancing with the one who brought you.

On the one hand, maybe it's good riddance. Speaking as someone who's generally to the right of Rush Limbaugh, I'm not about to mourn the departure of a left-winger (and that's what he really was) from the GOP. On the other hand, he knew he would throw the Senate to the Democrats, and yet he made his move. Benedict Arnold would be proud. I'm not entirely sure of where the balance will fall, but I suspect that the Dems' new ability to throw a monkey wrench into the progress that could've been made by the Republicans in cleaning up the mess left behind by eight years of Clinton-Gore will tip the balance more toward the negative.

[ Parent ]

Electing Moderate Republicans (3.87 / 8) (#16)
by MrAcheson on Thu May 24, 2001 at 02:18:43 PM EST

Knowing this guys politics, it is quite possible that Vermont Republicans were only re-electing Jeffords because he was an incumbent Republican. That is to say its better him than a Democrat. I'm from Pennsylvania and I know that most of the staunch republicans here hate Arlen Spector. But he's an incumbent so he always wins the primaries and they aren't going to vote democrat against him in the general election. So saying "its the same guy you elected" when you may have been voting for the party not the man is a simplification. This is not hypocrisy, this is picking the best choice out of two lousy choices.

Also switching parties has a big effect on what someone can do in washington. Politics is about politics. Its about favors and cutting deals. So by going independent Jeffords is ensuring that next to no Republican is going to help him do anything. That means he's going to have trouble passing a lot of the legislation he wants and may have promised in his campaign, etc. It hurts his standing as a senator.


These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


[ Parent ]
Political Parties (4.50 / 10) (#31)
by eann on Thu May 24, 2001 at 03:04:31 PM EST

That's exactly my point.

Political parties started, we're told in history classes, as groups of people with similar opinions about how things ought to be run. Sounds good to me. If only that were still (ever?) true...

These days, all we get are coalitions of petulant twerps who are perpetually squabbling with each other in Congress. Tell me again why Jeffords won't get any money for special ed in the budget. Because he dissed the GOP, and now they'll refuse to vote for anything with his name on it. Not because they don't think it's worthy, since they've indicated that they would've voted for it before, but because they're sore about not having one more name on their rolls, even though he didn't really agree with them on most issues.

Better a Republican than a Democrat? What the hell does that mean in Vermont, where the state GOP is more liberal than half the Democrats in the country? If the majority of people who call themselves Republicans in Vermont do agree with the national GOP agenda, then they needed a better candidate. If they don't, then the need a better party.

If so many of the staunch Republicans in Pennsylvania, who presumably control a vast portion of the money that Spector gets every 6 years, can't figure out how to get a candidate they like better, then I have no sympathy for them. Buy a couple of TV spots about a year before Spector's up again that say he's not doing a good job of representing the GOP and everybody should call Tom Ridge (or whoever they like) and tell him to run for Senate instead. If they time it right, just the fact that they had the cojones to do that will be newsworthy enough to propagate without buying more airtime.

My assertion stands. People who vote for the party instead of the person are at best a defacement of the US political system, at worst proof that we're a nation of total idiots. We have to assume they do so because they support some grander ideology, but they invariably end up with either sniveling sycophants or "moderates" who vote against the party anyway.


Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. —MLK

$email =~ s/0/o/; # The K5 cabal is out to get you.


[ Parent ]
Democrats will support him (3.60 / 5) (#63)
by John Milton on Fri May 25, 2001 at 12:21:37 AM EST

He may have dissed the GOP, but the Democrats are probably throwing parties in his honour. I don't think he'll have trouble finding support. It was really a smart move on his part. The way the GOP is right now, he hasn't been getting any support for his programs anyways. Party loyalty is a two way street. You support the party, and they support you. Obviously he can't support his party in good conscience, and the party isn't going to support him. He's just being realistic.

My colleagues, many of them my friends for years, may find it difficult in their hearts to befriend me any longer. Many of my supporters will be disappointed, and some of my staffers will see their lives upended. I regret this very much. Having made my decision, the weight that has been lifted from my shoulders now hangs on my heart.

But I was not elected to this office to be something that I am not.

I don't think he just did this on a whim. If I lived in Vermont, I would be voting for this man. As it stands, all I can do is applaud him.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
And old saying... (3.00 / 6) (#75)
by MrAcheson on Fri May 25, 2001 at 10:30:53 AM EST

Nobody trusts a traitor, even if he betrayed the other side. Also since the Republicans control both the House and the Presidency and (essentially) the Supreme Court, it will be significantly harder for Jeffords to get anything done.


These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


[ Parent ]
How can you be a traitor ? (4.33 / 6) (#80)
by mami on Fri May 25, 2001 at 11:57:37 AM EST

I don't understand how someone can be called a traitor to a party, if the party he betrays doesn't have a clear platform they are obliged to stick to. The elections showed that the people who voted had a very hard time to distinguish the platforms of each party and that they therefore turned out to be split half half, which basically meant the population didn't know who is going to represent them on each political issue and how.

Now, how can Jeffords be called a traitor ? If the Republicans and the Democrats basically can change their mind on each issue and vote differently than their presumed platform let voters believe they would vote after they have been elected into office, I don't really see much a senator, who votes and leaves according to his conscience, could be a traitor to.

I listen to C-SPAN radio and there is a lot of speculation who of the Democrats and Republicans might be close to switching their party affiliation or going independent. I would consider that a great time for people of both parties who can't find a platform for what they stand for to leave. It seems to me that the situation reflects the weakness of the electoral laws and process and the weakness of the party system in the U.S.

There is very little you can be loyal to politically in both parties, because both parties sell any lie to the population to get their votes and have allow themselves to get bought to be able to get elected at all and finance their campaigns.

I hope there would be more people like Jeffords, who actually say, where they stand on issues, and if they can't find a party for what they want or if their party's Senators and Congressmen vote on important issues other than they said they would, after they sit in their offices, they should have the courage to act according to what they believe is right and leave.

Seems to me as you can't split power on the basis of political issues firmly embedded in the platforms of parties, you can only split the power on numbers between the two parties independent of what the parties lack to stand for.

Very strange system for immigrants to understand. Pretty disappointing too.




[ Parent ]
In the end... (3.00 / 12) (#10)
by jd on Thu May 24, 2001 at 02:00:36 PM EST

This will make absolutely no difference. Politics will remain corrupt, big business will continue to hold power, and gas prices will continue to rise.

About the only difference this will make is that the party whips will need to work a little bit harder, to maintain the status-quo.

About the only thing that could change the political landscape is if Cthulhu gets elected President, on the promise that he won't drive too many people insane. (And most Americans would believe him, too!)

But this is a rare sight to see (3.00 / 1) (#87)
by hardburn on Fri May 25, 2001 at 03:31:14 PM EST

Even if the two parties remain in their corrupt ways, Jeffords himself is what is intresting here. The key is that he didn't defect to the Democrats; he went indy. There will be no big cushy seats of power for him there. An ethical man in congress??? Who would have thought?


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


[ Parent ]
Oh, one additional thought... (3.22 / 9) (#12)
by jd on Thu May 24, 2001 at 02:05:07 PM EST

You felt cheated? Did you vote for the person or the party? If you voted for the person, you should feel -LESS- cheated! You're getting more of what you voted for.

If you voted for the party, and the party you voted for maintains overall control, via the Presidency, why should you care which way this Senator votes?

Lastly, if this guy switched sides out of a sense of ethics, you should be cheering him every step of the way, whether you agree with him or not. An ethical politician is like gold dust in your cerial box. It's technically possible, but very very unlikely.

heh (3.40 / 5) (#13)
by Delirium on Thu May 24, 2001 at 02:11:08 PM EST

If you voted for the party, and the party you voted for maintains overall control, via the Presidency, why should you care which way this Senator votes?

Well, presumably if you voted for the party, you voted in this case for the party for the Senate, which they will no longer control. As for overall control, that's less than clear - the Presidency is not necessarily the most powerful branch of government, and can do very little without the Senate's approval (treaties, judicial appointments, even executive-branch appointments all need to be confirmed by the Senate, as well as legislation of course). In that case you'd be justified in being a bit annoyed.

Of course, I don't think people should vote for parties, but rather for individuals, so this doesn't bother me much. The "winner-takes-all" method of allocation of committees in the Senate does annoy me though - a one-vote switch should not lead to a complete overhaul, but to a change proportionate to that one vote (1%). The Republicans should not have had complete control of the Senate previously, and now the Democrats should not have completely control of the Senate. At the very least both parties should've appointed moderates to important positions - certainly not radical right-wingers like Orrin Hatch and Jesse Helms for the Republicans or radical left-wingers like Ted Kennedy for the Democrats.

[ Parent ]

I was cheated for a number of reasons (3.71 / 7) (#42)
by yankeehack on Thu May 24, 2001 at 04:18:51 PM EST

First, the Vermont Senate race 2000 was whittled down between Jeffords and a Democrat named Ed Flanagan. Jeffords was considered the "heir apparent" by the state GOP and there was no real Republican opposition (In fact, I believe Jeffords ran unopposed in the primary election). I didn't like Flanagan all that much, which is why I voted for Jeffords. I would have at least considered a more conservative candidate if there was one, but because of Jeffords status, the state GOP thought it safer to hold the seat.

Secondly, like others have mentioned previously, Jeffords took advantage of the state GOP organization for his re-election campaign, from funding to organizational functions to just about everything else you can think of. I attended one fundraiser and there was alot of money passed along, I can't imagine what occurred at the other events. If he had wavering feelings about being a true blue Republican, he should have shrugged off the money/organization and ran as an Independent.

Thirdly, and I am surprised that there isn't more attention to this, Jeffords' action isn't merely aww gee whiz soul searching, he just handed the Democrats control of what is probably one of the world's most powerful governing bodies. While it is difficult for even the most talented pundit to correctly call all of the races on Election Day, this post election manuevering is manipulative at best, and designed to get Jeffords more personal power and attention as a Senator. (And now you know why I wrote this as an OP-ED ;-p )

Here's hoping that this Democratic Senator will run for President in 2004.
[ Parent ]

Given GW Bush (3.77 / 9) (#46)
by Simon Kinahan on Thu May 24, 2001 at 05:34:43 PM EST

I think Jeffords can probably be excused the timing. It looks very like Bush's presidency will be more conservative than many commentators had anticipated, in spite of the tenuous nature of his mandate. Given Jeffords is a moderate, maybe he was not expecting the administration to be quite so conservative ?

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Cheated or thwarted? (3.50 / 2) (#76)
by DaBunny on Fri May 25, 2001 at 11:07:20 AM EST

It sounds like you're unhappy that you don't have a more conservative senator. That's understandable, but that doesn't mean you were cheated. Sure, things might have gone more to your liking, but I think it's quite a stretch to say Jeffords was unethical.

There's a little more basis behind the argument that he took money and support from the GOP. But did that cheat you? Did you give time and/or $ to them? And a number of the stories I read described a long-standing rift between Jeffords and the Vermont GOP. Do you have any info on how much tangible support he received from them?

[ Parent ]
Isn't it interesting (4.00 / 17) (#23)
by WinPimp2K on Thu May 24, 2001 at 02:42:40 PM EST

The Congress is so completely defined in terms of political party? Where in the Constitution is it written that considerations of party membership should have anything to do with how the Congress goes about it's business?

Although I sometimes feel (when I'm really depressed over the government) that the entire nation would benefit from a fifty millisecond "urban cleansing" project with ground zero on the Capitol building, I'll give the Senator my moral support. I may not agree with him, but I will hope his example (I'm not always depressed - sometimes I'm a regular Pollyanna) will actually serve as a wake up call to Party (yes I mean "both" parties, but I'm being nasty) leadership to shut their partisian cakeholes and get to work.

misread your title (2.50 / 4) (#49)
by cicero on Thu May 24, 2001 at 06:39:33 PM EST

and the first sentance of your comment kinda threw me off.


--
I am sorry Cisco, for Microsoft has found a new RPC flaw - tonight your e0 shall be stretched wide like goatse.
[ Parent ]
it is... (2.00 / 1) (#93)
by ambtech on Fri May 25, 2001 at 11:51:38 PM EST

interesting. However, you're failing to remember how our current government works. Parties define values, morals, decisions, and much more than I want to list here. We have two 'major' sides in this country, and a good number of 'minor' sides. This is how it works. Get used to it, because it isn't going to change any time soon. Too many people asleep out there.

[ Parent ]
1974 (2.22 / 9) (#27)
by Nyarlathotep on Thu May 24, 2001 at 02:46:16 PM EST

You admit that Jim Jeffords has held congressional office since 1974. This means that you know (or could have known) all his good and bad points as a politician and you know what he will support and what he will oppose.

You also admit that he was not a party boy when he was a republican that why would you expect him to tote the democratic party line? I do not see how this one man (especially this specific man) switching from "Liberal Republican" to "Conservative Democrat" (identical positions) will effect our national political landscape at all. He will still vote for the smae things (unless the republicans get pissed off at him and never speak to him, i.e. he'd be forced to make deals with democrats to get his bills passed).

Actually, this will have a significant political effect for Vermont. Jim Jeffords will be a significant moderating influence at the state level, so the Vermont Democratic party will become more moderate and the Vermont Republican party will become more conservative. This will be bad for hard core Liberals in the short term (they will be forced to ellect Jeffords as the "lesser of two evils"), but good for the Vermont Democratic party in the long term (think lots of moderate converts).. the reverse will be true for the Conservatives and Republicans. I doubt that these effects will carry over much outside of Vermont.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
You would be correct if you weren't wrong (3.83 / 6) (#30)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu May 24, 2001 at 03:03:35 PM EST

Jim Jeffords has not become a Democrat, but an Independant. Unless he joins the Democrats, come time for re-election (in 5 and 1/2 years) he will be running against both Democrat and Republican candidates.

Who knows, maybe he's gearing up for a presidential bid with Jesse Ventura in 2004.

[ Parent ]

The Democrats won't run against him (3.80 / 5) (#60)
by Field Marshall Stack on Thu May 24, 2001 at 11:14:32 PM EST

Jim Jeffords has not become a Democrat, but an Independant. Unless he joins the Democrats, come time for re-election (in 5 and 1/2 years) he will be running against both Democrat and Republican candidates.

Who knows, maybe he's gearing up for a presidential bid with Jesse Ventura in 2004.

Higher-ups in the Democratic Party have said that they intend to stay out of Jeffords' way if he runs for re-election, so he'd only have to contend with a Republican. Also, Jeffords is in his late 60s, so he might not even attempt reelection in 2006.
--
Ben Allen, hiway@speakeasy.org
"Nobody ever lends money to a man with a sense of humor"
-Peter Tork
[ Parent ]
You would be right if he were a State Senator (3.33 / 3) (#34)
by brion on Thu May 24, 2001 at 03:47:11 PM EST

...but since he's in the United States Senate, his defection throws control to the now-majority Democratic party from the formerly-majority Republican party. Thus different people are in charge of the US Senate - votes may go the same, but what gets voted on depends on who's in charge, and that has changed.

Chu vi parolas Vikipedion?
[ Parent ]
this isn't a baseball team... (2.66 / 3) (#44)
by cicero on Thu May 24, 2001 at 05:09:37 PM EST

and he's not some out of control ball player.

You also admit that he was not a party boy when he was a republican that why would you expect him to tote the democratic party line?

His "defection" is his way of saying that he no longer agrees with the stance(s) taken by GOP. They no longer represent his agenda and doesn't want to be forced/expected/yadda yadda yadda into voting with them.


--
I am sorry Cisco, for Microsoft has found a new RPC flaw - tonight your e0 shall be stretched wide like goatse.
[ Parent ]
point of information (3.00 / 2) (#77)
by ubu on Fri May 25, 2001 at 11:28:00 AM EST

why would you expect him to tote the democratic party line?

We're all intelligent, self-respecting people here, so hopefully you won't mind if I make a minor observation:

The phrase you want to use is "toe the democratic party line". Imagine a line drawn on the ground. Imagine your foot, with toes attached. Imagine walking that straight and narrow line by keeping the toes on your feet closely aligned with the line. This is what it means to "toe the line". It is not "tow the line", "tote the line", or "throw the line". It is definitely not "stow the line" or "toe is fine". It would be simply inappropriate to say "ho blow my nine".

Hopefully the metaphor in that cliche is clearer and you will remember it next time through the mnemonic I provided.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Orientation of line (4.00 / 1) (#92)
by Ludwig on Fri May 25, 2001 at 11:41:07 PM EST

I don't think it derives from walking along a straight line (in which case "toeing" it wouldn't be any more appropriate than "heeling" it) but from standing aligned abreast, as a line of cadets at attention. This also makes more sense in light of the meaning of the phrase, which is not "to walk the straight and narrow" but "to refrain from dissent."

[ Parent ]
yeah (none / 0) (#111)
by ubu on Tue May 29, 2001 at 10:51:50 AM EST

Yeah, that undoubtedly makes more sense. As in, toes up against the line but not crossing it.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Hrmmm (1.66 / 18) (#35)
by Bob Abooey on Thu May 24, 2001 at 03:52:11 PM EST

One has to wonder what Allysa Milano thinks about all this....


-------
Comments on politics from a man whose life seems to revolve around his lunch menu just do not hold weight. - Casioitan
Betrayal --- Disenfranchisement ??? (2.66 / 9) (#38)
by Nitesurfer on Thu May 24, 2001 at 04:00:51 PM EST

By becoming an Independent... he could still vote conservative on every issue ( not likely -- but possible ). However when you look at the math it was 50 Rep & 50 Dem with our VP making tie breaker votes. If he votes conservative, our VP will still have the deciding vote. So the final vote really has not changed, if he voted conservatively.

What has changed now is the marginal defined majority slipping from the republicans hands and into the democrats (Now 50 dem & 49 Rep & 1 Ind). This allows them to lead the committes and the introduction of legislation to the house floor.

So while making himself a wildcard, he might have equalized all he wants the way he wants. If a liberal bill comes before him he dislikes, he can vote it down( with the VP breaking the tie). Or if he likes it, he can let the liberal legislation go through in one of two ways. He could just abstain and get a 50 to 49 vote. Or he can vote right along with them for a 51D to 49R.

Did he betray his voters? Well he is a senior senator with 24 years experience. As such he has seniority over over other freshman senators. This is an important consideration. For example, as a republican as much as I disliked voting for T.Kennedy, his seniority helps for program in Massachusetts. Couple that with the fact the republican candidate was not a viable choice. The liberatrian is who I liked but for the better good of MA I voted for good Ole Ted.

Would I be unhappy if he went Independent. NEVER. Go for it TED. Would other MA voters feel the same? NO WAY --- they would be screaming. So flipping the coin back, I am sure he betrayed some of his voters who counted on him being a republican. But he also made others happy (maybe).

I think the real question is why did he do it so close after the election. Why not before?


David Byrd

CEO --- Twenty First Century Technologies, Inc.
Home of the Nite-Surfer Illuminated Keyboard

reason (3.20 / 5) (#47)
by SEAL on Thu May 24, 2001 at 06:22:54 PM EST

I think the real question is why did he do it so close after the election. Why not before?

Campaign funds is my guess. Once in office, though, declaring himself an independent gives him a great deal of power on controversial issues where the Senate is split on party lines. As you pointed out, he effectively becomes the tiebreaker rather than the Vice President.

On the one hand, I think he's wrong for misrepresenting himself to his constituents who voted him into office. However, on the other hand, I understand his concern over the current political climate. Bush has proven to be much less moderate than advertised in his campaign. All in all, Jeffords' abandoning of the GOP was a great move. He'll wield even more influence in the Senate than he did before.

The risk, of course, is not getting reelected. But at his age, Jeffords may not be interested in serving another term after this one anyhow.

- SEAL

It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
[ Parent ]

one more thought (3.33 / 3) (#48)
by SEAL on Thu May 24, 2001 at 06:27:37 PM EST

At the time of the Senate election, Jeffords, being on the east coast, was reelected before the rest of the Senate had been chosen.

Also, keep in mind that the Senate race had a vote recount of its own: Maria Cantwell(D) vs. Slade Gorton(R) in the state of Washington. Gorton was the incumbent and lost by a very small margin. Because of this close race, no one was sure whether the Senate would be 51R - 49D, or 50-50. As it turns out, Cantwell won, but Jeffords had already been reelected much earlier.

- SEAL

It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
[ Parent ]
Why not before (4.66 / 9) (#51)
by ucblockhead on Thu May 24, 2001 at 07:02:33 PM EST

If you take the man at his word, the reason why he didn't do it before is pretty clear. Bush was making very moderate noises before the election and only moved to the conservative spot he's at after getting into office.

At the time of the election, the conventional wisdom was that Bush would have to stay moderate because of the closeness of the election. He chose not to, and instead govern as if he had a mandate. This is just the first bit of the political fallout of that.

It has a lot to do with the artificial nature of a completely divided senate. It means that any one senator can effect the balance, which means that you only have to piss off one out of fifty to tip things the other way. Jeffords was merely the first to get pissed off.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

re: reason (4.60 / 5) (#59)
by Field Marshall Stack on Thu May 24, 2001 at 11:09:19 PM EST

Campaign funds is my guess.

Once in office, though, declaring himself an independent gives him a great deal of power on controversial issues where the Senate is split on party lines. As you pointed out, he effectively becomes the tiebreaker rather than the Vice President.

Personally, I don't buy the argument that Jeffords was planning this all along -- after all, during the elections the leaders of the Republican party were claiming to be much more moderate (and thus acceptable to Jeffords) than they've proved to be since gaining power.

Also, the impression I get from talking to Vermonters on other message boards is that Jeffords is so popular in Vermont that he could probably win office running on the Raving Monster Loonie ticket if he wanted to, despite the fact that that party doesn't even exist in the U.S.

The senators to watch now are Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Chaffee is a moderate Republican, very close to Jeffords ideologically, so he could jump at any time if Bush doesn't move towards the center. Arlen Specter on the other hand is a flat-out opportunist. He'd sell his own grandmother if it'd get him more political power, and most likely won't be too happy as part of the minority party.
--
Ben Allen, hiway@speakeasy.org
"Nobody ever lends money to a man with a sense of humor"
-Peter Tork
[ Parent ]

real story is the switch to pseudo-Democrat (3.75 / 4) (#69)
by Delirium on Fri May 25, 2001 at 01:36:56 AM EST

If he votes conservative, our VP will still have the deciding vote. So the final vote really has not changed, if he voted conservatively.

That's the real issue here, and why the Democrats are gaining power. He's switching to an Independent, but will caucus with the Democrats, meaning that he will vote with them for procedural matters, giving them a 51-49 majority that enables them to decide committe chairmanships and such. If he switched to an Independent but continued to caucus with the Republicans, they would retain control by 50-50 votes whose ties would be broken by Cheney, and thus would retain control of all the committees and such.

So the real story is not that he's quit the Republican party and become and independent, but that's he's become a Democratic-leaning independent.

[ Parent ]

now swing to the left (2.60 / 5) (#45)
by dr k on Thu May 24, 2001 at 05:13:07 PM EST

Hm, the Senate turned to the right after two years of Our Favorite 42nd President, now it swings left. Americans really shouldn't be surprised at this kind of thing.

Or rather, we shouldn't be surprised that the balance of power has shifted, but we may be surprised by which exact Senator caused the change. And does this have anything to do with the democratic process?
Destroy all trusted users!

Nothing Wrong, But I Disagree (2.81 / 11) (#50)
by Crashnbur on Thu May 24, 2001 at 06:56:25 PM EST

I see nothing wrong with Jeffords' decision to cross party lines. It stings a little, as I dislike the Democratic [Socialist?] Party just a little more than the Republican Party. But it was his decision, and I respect that decision. However, the reasons he gave were horrible. The only good reason he gave, in my opinion, was, "the rest of my party are more conservative" (paraphrased). The rest of his excuses for his crossover need a little work, and probably would have best been left unsaid.

As for the two political parties, both are corrupt, and most politicians from either party are only out for self-gain and mostly for their party's gain. Perhaps it is time to look Libertarian/Independent - to people that actually care about freedom for all, so long as one's choices are not in conflict with another's freedom.

I would write more on the topic, but I am being rushed out of my house... Go figure.

crash.neotope.com


What? (3.44 / 9) (#54)
by Requiem on Thu May 24, 2001 at 08:36:21 PM EST

The Democratic party is a long way off from a socialist party. Why don't you take a look at the European socialist parties, and then tell me if the Democrats are even remotely close to them?

[ Parent ]
socialist parties (3.00 / 2) (#68)
by Delirium on Fri May 25, 2001 at 01:34:02 AM EST

Depends what European socialist party you're talking about. If you look at Germany's Democratic Socialists, for example, they're not much farther left than America's Democrats are. And if you look at some of the more far-left Democrats in the US Congress, they'd fit in very well even to some of Europe's more radical socialist parties.

[ Parent ]
Well then... (4.00 / 1) (#71)
by minusp on Fri May 25, 2001 at 08:09:56 AM EST

I suppose that you wont mind some of us referring to the Republicans as "the Nationalist Party" then, will you?

Remember, regime change begins at home.
[ Parent ]
nationalists (3.50 / 2) (#85)
by Delirium on Fri May 25, 2001 at 02:30:58 PM EST

Well, the Republicans are much different from far-right European parties than the Democrats are from left-of-center European parties. You'll note that nobody called the Democrats a Communist party, just a Socialist party. The Republicans typically support free trade, many of them support increased legal immigration, and so on.

[ Parent ]
Libertarians/Independent (2.33 / 3) (#56)
by mami on Thu May 24, 2001 at 10:22:22 PM EST

So, if I understand this correctly, you put the Libertarians and Independents in the same pot ?

I thought, after having been introduced to Libertarians here, that they are to the right of the Republicans, whereas I believed, that Independents, at least when it comes to Jeffords and independent Vermonters, are to the left of the Republicans, and therefore in the Center ?

The most confusing thing to Europeans is the fact that parties almost don't have platforms here and the whole thing from left to right is one big mess. You never know where anybody stands on the issues until he has actually voted. I just wonder where you would sit a third party of Libertarians in the Senate floor ? In the middle ? So, was the Lincoln's Old Party, a moderate, centrist party or a Libertarian party (meaning more right wing than today's Republican Party)?

So, can anybody please tell me, if a Libertarian is a liberal, left from the Republican ( I doubt that somehow) or a gun nutty anarchist Libertarian right from the Republicans.

As European I can never put a Liberal (the way I know them from Europe) and what I observed here in the U.S. as a Libertarian in one pot. They are as far away from each other as day and night.



[ Parent ]
Libertarians on the political spectrum (3.50 / 6) (#58)
by Field Marshall Stack on Thu May 24, 2001 at 10:50:16 PM EST

Libertarians split the difference between left and right; they're far-right on economic issues and far-left on social liberty issues. They've been described (generally by people who think they're a little nutty) as anarchocapitalists. Some, but not all, Libertarians are followers of Ayn Rand.

IMO they're not worth thinking too hard about. Briefly during the early 1980s they had some successes on the municipal level, but these didn't last. Since the mid 1990s they've been controlled by Harry Browne, who seems more concerned with using the party for personal profit than for actually making serious attempts at getting Libertarians in office. Despite their popularity among segments of the tech community, as a real force in American politics they're right up there with the Natural Law Party, and significantly more marginal than the Greens, if that's possible.
--
Ben Allen, hiway@speakeasy.org
"Nobody ever lends money to a man with a sense of humor"
-Peter Tork
[ Parent ]

far left on social liberty issues (none / 0) (#73)
by mami on Fri May 25, 2001 at 09:41:40 AM EST

far left on social liberty issues

What does that mean ? Do the Libertarians have a unified platform on the second amendment ? If yes, which one ? Can I be a Libertarian and be against the second amendment ?

Without further studying what one would consider to be a social liberty issue, I would have guessed that the second amendment and social liberties don't mix.

[ Parent ]

propertarianism (4.66 / 3) (#89)
by eLuddite on Fri May 25, 2001 at 05:41:42 PM EST

(Libertarians are more accurately called propertarians.)
far left on social liberty issues
What does that mean ?

It can only mean absolute individual freedom in society. Social *equality*, on the other hand, is anathema to a libertarian if it is guaranteed by government and especially if it involves the exploitation of (his) inviolable property. No taxes, no medicare, no state owned utilities, no anti-discrimination laws, no silencers for my gun.

Libertarianism: If one me is good, many me's must be excellent.

Libertarianism: The first one to piss on a lawn owns it outright.

Do the Libertarians have a unified platform on the second amendment ?

If a libertarian had neither the fingers nor the toes to pull the trigger, he would roll up into a ball and shoot himself out of a cannon in order to protect his lawn.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

social liberty (none / 0) (#94)
by mami on Sat May 26, 2001 at 12:32:41 AM EST

It can only mean absolute individual freedom in society.

Thanks, I wouldn't have thought of it that way. So, if I say, I am a social liberal, then it would mean something else ? What a fuzzy way of using the English language, almost as fuzzy as the usage of *free* by RMS and ESR. (no flamebait, just teasing) .

If I am on the far left on social liberty issues, that means I am a far right anarchist, if I am a centrist social liberal, that makes me a far left socialist, and if I am far left socialist, I am a teddybear like Ted Kennedy, who would count as moderate Christian Democrat in Germany and be therefore on the right wing. Have the Americans or me difficulties to know their left hand from their right hand ?

No taxes, no medicare, no state owned utilities, no anti-discrimination laws, no silencers for my gun.

How that can result in something close to guarantee me liberty and something resembling a society beats me.

Thanks.

[ Parent ]

right, left are marching orders for americans (5.00 / 1) (#97)
by eLuddite on Sat May 26, 2001 at 02:04:54 AM EST

Thanks, I wouldn't have thought of it that way.

Then you arent a libertarian :-) The belief in absolute freedom is pretty much a dictionary definition of libertarianism.

If I am on the far left on social liberty issues, that means I am a far right anarchist,

Not a good thing to be, historically, if you are an American.

Have the Americans or me difficulties to know their left hand from their right hand ?

Socialism never managed to penetrate the traditional American 2 party system so it's fair to say that the American use of the word left is as limited as their experience of socialists. The only Revolution that ever mattered in America is the American Revolution which, despite the religious fervor it engenders in Americans, is almost universally misunderstood, especially by Libertarians. Libertarians (1) misinterpret the Constitution; (2) ignore the fact that it is a document of statist Constitutionalism; (3) forget that it is a live document with its own system for amendment, preferring to think of it as a Dead Sea Scroll instead.

How that can result in something close to guarantee me liberty and something resembling a society beats me.

You cannot guarantee equality if you withold property. Once all the lawns have pissed on, the fate of the world depends on the owners of those lawns, who are absolutely free to do grow concrete on them instead of wheat.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Oh my ... libertarian vs. Libertarian (none / 0) (#100)
by mami on Sat May 26, 2001 at 01:45:12 PM EST

Not a good thing to be, historically, if you are an American.

Wow, thanks for that link, fascinating stuff. It's amazing that what seemed to be nothing more than an ordinary labor strike (have only started to read the material) has been used to worship an originally socialist anarchism philosophy. Take away the socialist bent and you have pure anarchism, put it together with worshipping the second amendment and it's taken up by Libertarians to become the (potential) seed of right wing anarchist terrorism. What a mess.

You cannot guarantee equality if you withold property

You can't guarantee anything in life. But you could make equality legally a little more probable without making liberty much less probable. And you could avoid making equality a little less probable without making liberty more probable. I guess the devil is in the detail.

Thanks. Do I need to buy a canon on ebay for my lawn now to give some gunless curled up Libertarian a way to shoot himself away ?

So, did you mean to hint there is a difference between a libertarian and a Libertarian nowadays? Can't believe you just didn't pay attention to the capitalization of the word libertarian the first time around in your first sentence. But I happened to notice this only now.

[ Parent ]

the distinction is convenient for its unnecessity (3.00 / 2) (#102)
by eLuddite on Sat May 26, 2001 at 06:26:33 PM EST

So, did you mean to hint there is a difference between a libertarian and a Libertarian nowadays?

As far as I'm concerned, it's the difference between ideology and the constraints of working within the reality of the US political system. The USA is not going to become Libertopia but it sure sounds like the Libertarian Party wishes it would. (Watch out for that site's seductive rhetoric and philosophical solecisms.)

The LP's self-righteous refrain is their opposition to the initiation of force. I guess that means anyone who doesnt vote for them is voting for criminals, vandals, thieves and affirmative action fascists. Of course they consistently fail to account for why anyone would possibly want to initiate force or even how force against property makes sense. Property has no rights, it is a set of relations between people, a method of exploiting nature for society's benefit. Seems to me that a contract (LP.org is big on contracts) which uses property (that which you mark by lifting your leg after you've killed off its original Indian inhabitants) to exploit society is begging for forceful termination.

A Libertarian who gets up in the morning and looks out the window at his factory sees nothing but his ownership, completely blind to how that factory got there, the purpose for its existence, and the reason people are in a position to buy the widgets it turns out.

Sure, many propertarians (even Libertarians) arent content to merely pat themselves on the back and can defend their ideology with considerably more complexity and depth. So what? They can be refuted in kind. Political philosophy does not take propertarianism seriously because propertarianism cannot withstand critical thinking. Without guidance and intervention, also known as "force", propertarians will always require a leap of faith to make an equitable society out of economic chaos and their ethics of selfish egoism. Unrestrained capital has never treated labor fairly in the past and I see no reason for thinking it might do so in the future.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Thanks (none / 0) (#103)
by mami on Sat May 26, 2001 at 10:04:00 PM EST

I am reading and digesting the LP political platform (lp.org) For a while no further comment. Too much to read. I can't believe, I failed to check them out before, relying on Libertarians being harmless liberals of sort.

Is this something, each college student goes through in his first years of undergrad studies in political sciences, philosophy and history in the U.S. ?

I realize that we are lacking that sort of educational background in those fields, when we choose to study hard sciences, computer sciences or engineering in Germany. Directly from highschool into your specific field usually. Today, I find this a weakness in our system.


[ Parent ]
this wont be a popular opinion but screw it (3.00 / 1) (#106)
by eLuddite on Sun May 27, 2001 at 12:29:25 AM EST

Is this something, each college student goes through in his first years of undergrad studies in political sciences, philosophy and history in the U.S. ?

Are you kidding? Look at the evidence: most Americans do not vote for failure to understand their role in govt, thereby making autocratic rule virtually inevitable and libertarian fears self-fullfilling prophecies.

Representational democracy only works if you vote and practice political dissent. If you do neither, either the will of the majority is deposed by despotic interests or the majority succeeds in tyrannizing the minority. Usually both. If Americans are being taught anything in school, the lessons must be voter apathy, reactionary opposition to dissent, free market platitudes and Constitutional solecisms.

The simple fact of the matter is that American schools do not turn out effective citizens. If they did, Americans wouldnt tirelessly confuse capitalism with a theory of freedom (politics) and possession of rights (can do) with their exercise (should do.)

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

illustrated by this article (none / 0) (#113)
by mami on Tue May 29, 2001 at 01:28:50 PM EST

An article in today's WP illustrates the left-right-liberal spectrum of Great Britain in comparison to the U.S.

[ Parent ]
Left/Right/Up/Down (4.00 / 2) (#84)
by Mzilikazi on Fri May 25, 2001 at 02:04:54 PM EST

The Left/Right definititions used in describing political parties are pretty much useless. One axis is not enough, you need two. On the second axis, you go from "Authoritarian Government" on one extreme to "No Government" on the other. This is much more accurate at locating where various parties fall. For instance, with the example used with the Republicans and Libertarians, the Republicans are off to the right (and theoretically a bit more on the side of smaller government), while pure Libertarians would be on the center in the Left/Right axis and would be far down towards the No Government side. Likewise, Communists would be further left than the Democrats and much higher on the "Authoritarian Government" axis.

[ Parent ]
authoritarian government (none / 0) (#95)
by mami on Sat May 26, 2001 at 01:04:41 AM EST

As soon as you govern, someone has given you the authority to do so, or not ? As long as the authority to govern is handed out based on a proportional representative majority of a democratic election, I don't see that the authority to govern means you have an authoritarian government.

An authoritarian government can only result out of constitutional and statutory laws, which allows the government to be authoritarian.

How one can believe that the second amendment will ensure that the government will be less authoritarian, I don't understand.

As private gun ownership gives anybody the potential to be first class trouble maker, the government has to become much more authoritarian to ensure security for its citizens and not less authoritorian. I give up on that one.

If it's up and down movement, I think then, if you are Libertarian your are down in the basement and if you are authoritarian you are hanging under ceiling of the Congress's coppola. May be that's where both of these groups belong... it's late and I am just kidding. Long live the up and down of the U.S. party system.

[ Parent ]

Actually it's even simpler (more or less). (4.50 / 4) (#79)
by JazzManJim on Fri May 25, 2001 at 11:38:18 AM EST

I'm a Libertarian, and before becoming one, I did some good hard research about what the party actually believes, and to what ends it works. Here it is in a nutshell.

Libertarians believe (or at least, this is the established party foundation) that the Constitution gave the Federal government specific and limited duties and that it must not take on other duties than those. State and Local governments, which are closer to the people and more capable of reacting in a timely and responsive manner, should handle the rest.

As to the Democrats and Republicans, here's how they shake out, in brief.

Democrats, most of whom also lean toward the Loberal, believe in more Federal government control on economic and regulatory issues and less on personal behavior issues. Republicans, most of whome lean toward the Conservative, lean toward less control on economic and regulatory matters and more on personal behavior issues. You can find folks with Libertarian leanings in both parties, and on both sides of the issue, very often. But, here's how a "typical Libertarian would work in between the two major parties. For instance, on the Second Amendment, Liberarians believe that citizens have an explicit Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, period. The Federal Government has no right whatsoever to overstep that right. That places them among the Conservative Republicans. On the other hand, they also believe that there is no Constitutional basis whatever on which the Federal government can ban abortions, which places them on the side of Liberal Democrats.

Now, this says nothing of State and Local governments, which have the right to govern things in far greater detail than the Federal Government, as the constitution is written. Hope this helps.


-Jimmie
"Hostility toward America is a religious duty, and we hope to be rewarded for it by God...I am confident that Muslims will be able to end the legend of the so-called superpower that is America."
(Osama bin Laden - 10 Jan 1999)
[ Parent ]
Actually he did give reason's (3.50 / 4) (#62)
by novajerk on Thu May 24, 2001 at 11:58:29 PM EST

Being a politician, Jeffords dances around the reasons for his defection. However, he does briefly explain his decision.
From Sen. Jeffords statement:

Looking ahead, I can see more and more instances where I will disagree with the President on very fundamental issues: the issues of choice, the direction of the judiciary, tax and spending decisions, missile defense, energy and the environment, and a host of other issues, large and small.

It is likely there additional reasons move. According the The Economist, there has been some tension between Bush and Jeffords. Particularly, after Jeffords had opposed Bush's tax cuts, Bush refused to invite him[Jeffords] to a White House ceremony honouring a Vermont native who had been voted teacher of the year.

[ Parent ]
Why this matters (3.83 / 6) (#53)
by circumpolar star on Thu May 24, 2001 at 08:33:08 PM EST

I see a couple posts from people not in the US wondering how this guy from Vermont could matter.

Briefly, new laws go through a long and formal process to get made. The party with the most senators controls that process at almost every step of the way.

Before the switch, the two parties were tied and Republicans held a tie breaker-vote. Now Democrats have more senators. Bush's enemies will decide when votes will be taken, what bills will be considered, and what hearings will be held. They can stop any law Bush wants passed... provided they stick together.

I doubt that they will be able to stick together, but they can still slow things down a lot.

happens in foreign countries too (3.00 / 4) (#67)
by Delirium on Fri May 25, 2001 at 01:31:35 AM EST

I see a couple posts from people not in the US wondering how this guy from Vermont could matter.

Hehe most of the world should understand this sort of thing, since parliamentary systems are very common. After all, if it weren't for one vote possibly shifting the balance of power, nobody would care about the little 1-seat or 2-seat parties in the Italian parliament.

[ Parent ]

I loved hearing about this one... (3.45 / 11) (#55)
by Armaphine on Thu May 24, 2001 at 09:04:23 PM EST

For one, I have heard that apparently Dick Cheney had actually been the one to really prompt this move. Apparently himself & Dubya (although I'm sure we can take a guess at who the brains of the operation was) had gotten into some kind of a political pissing match with this guy. They even went so far as to pass some sort of bill aimed at hurting his constiuents. So, I can't exactly cry for the Republican party on this one. Not that I would have anyways.

Of course, the most delicious part of this comes in the form of the fact that one state gave this administration power. And so, once again, one lone Senator manages to wrest a large chunk of control back away from them.... I'd be lying if I said that this didn't bring a very wide smile to my face....

Question authority. Don't ask why, just do it.

Oh, happy day! (3.66 / 6) (#57)
by Vann on Thu May 24, 2001 at 10:32:32 PM EST

      I'm not a democrat. I'm not a republican, either. But, I will say this: I am disgusted by political parties, especially those two. It's like the Hatfields and McCoys up on Capitol Hill, and it will take more people like this Senator to stop it. The funny thing is, this wasn't a power play, since he went independent and not democrat. He'll get no committee chairmanships, and the best he'll get is being appointed by the new democrac leadership to his committees of choice.

      Which leads me to my next point, the makeup of Congress. I fear that Congress is becoming more and more entrenched in an aristocracy of political parties and seniority. Unless you be a good politician and play these petty partisan games you'll get no seniority status, much less any power. This stems right from the fact that the very foundation of Congress is now based on political parties. Committee seats and chairmanships are determined by political party, as are leadership positions (majority leader, whip, etc) in Congress. It is becoming completely clear what Washington meant when he talked about the "baneful effects of the party." In their current form, the "two" political parties are nothing but clever forms of aristocracy.
____________
Sex is tedious all year except on Arbor Day. -- Rusty
Actually ... (3.60 / 5) (#64)
by wesmills on Fri May 25, 2001 at 12:53:25 AM EST

I point you to this quote:

With the Democrats rewarding Republican-turned-independent Jim Jeffords with the chairmanship of the Environment Committee...
from MSNBC News and backed up by CNN. So he did get something in return, a very good something.

What rather annoys me is that this can take place in the middle of a sitting Senate. At the minimum, no elected representative should be able to change their party affiliation without going up for reelection again. Since a good deal of voters vote "straight party" tickets, Jeffords is no longer the person they voted for. I understand that many will say the voters should have completely understood all candidates and who they were voting for, but the fact is straight party tickets are a reality, and he's now changed who the (albeit slim) majority wanted in power.

I'm not going to state my political views, but Democrat, Republican or Independent, he shouldn't have pulled this stunt. A radio talk show made the point that Jeffords is quite likely aligning himself with the future (now present) Senate majority since Sen. Thurmond (R-SC) is widely considered not likely to finish his term. As such, South Carolina's governor would appoint someone to replace Thurmond, probably a Democrat.

So, we now see again the power that just one person can have in the government. I don't know that this proves that democracy really does work (considering that we can have such "fundamental shifts" in power without mass rioting), but it does prove that when you bring together 300 million or so people under one umbrella, everything gets interesting.

---------- Do not meddle in the affairs of sysadmins, for they are quick to annoy and have the root password.
[ Parent ]

Recall vote (4.00 / 2) (#72)
by Rand Race on Fri May 25, 2001 at 08:35:11 AM EST

At the minimum, no elected representative should be able to change their party affiliation without going up for reelection again.

Already covered by the constitution. The people of Vermont may stage a recall vote and reelection if they wish to. But, since most Vermonters do not vote along party lines and the state is small enough that everyone has a good idea where their reps stand, the chances of this happening are slim to none. Note what is not mentioned in the constitution: Political parties.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

Well, I'll be... (none / 0) (#110)
by Vann on Sun May 27, 2001 at 09:37:42 PM EST

I didn't know that, honestly. I was under the impression that the majority had to appoint members of their own party to committee positions. I guess it is that they can appoint anyone, and they never appoint the "other" side because of the silly partisan infighting. Hatfields and McCoys, like I said.

Anyways, I figure the Congress had this coming. The only reason one person can have so much influence over the power-structure of the Senate is because, *gasp*, they rely on party for determining who assigns what to whom. If I were Jeffords, I would refuse all chairmanships. If he doesn't, I guess he wasn't the statesmen I thought he was.
____________
Sex is tedious all year except on Arbor Day. -- Rusty
[ Parent ]
Oh how entertaining! (3.00 / 5) (#61)
by siobibble on Thu May 24, 2001 at 11:47:13 PM EST

First it was good old Florida that was the deciding factor in the elections, now it's VERMONT balancing power between the democrats and the republicans.

Interesting how just one state shifts and another state shifts power to be nearly even between those two parties.

=]

Balance of Power (2.00 / 1) (#74)
by circumpolar star on Fri May 25, 2001 at 09:42:13 AM EST

I think that the Republicans still have much more control of the government than the Dems. The Dems will be able to block the most offensive stuff Bush wanted, but all Bush needs to do is get one or two of them to cross party lines. Republicans still contol the House of Reps., which is actually a more powerful body than the Senate. Not to mention the Presidency itself.

[ Parent ]
There has never been a "Republican Majority&q (3.00 / 7) (#65)
by gbd on Fri May 25, 2001 at 12:53:53 AM EST

One of the more curious comments I keep hearing is about how Jeffords' decision is "overthrowing the Republican majority" in the Senate. This, to me, begs the question .. when was there a Republican majority in the Senate (in the past year, anyway?) Oh, sure, maybe the party affiliation went 50/50 (plus one for Cheney's vote) but Jesus Christ .. can somebody explain how this guy was ever a Republican to begin with? This guy has views that are further to the left than some Democrats, for crying out loud. And he's not the only one .. Lincoln Chafee, another Republican Senator from New England, tilts just as much (if not more) to the left (though he has expressed no interest in switching parties.)

This should come as no surprise to anybody.

Personally, I love this. I absolutely love it. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, but that's not why I love it (though it's still very funny to watch the reactions from the other side.) The reason I love it is because it gives us a government that has control split down the middle. It gives a government where neither side -- Republican or Democrat -- is given free reign to completely fuck things up. Oh, sure, the analysts might talk about things like "gridlock", but I am confident that Republicans and Democrats can work together to resolve the really big problems and beyond that, they can leave well enough alone.

To put it another way: It will force Bush and the right-wing ideologues along with all of the left-wing ideologues to govern from the center. And that is as it should be, IMHO.

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.

random comments (4.42 / 7) (#66)
by Delirium on Fri May 25, 2001 at 01:27:29 AM EST

when was there a Republican majority in the Senate (in the past year, anyway?) Oh, sure, maybe the party affiliation went 50/50 (plus one for Cheney's vote) but Jesus Christ .. can somebody explain how this guy was ever a Republican to begin with?

I think you answered your own question there. There were 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats in the Senate, and Cheney's Republican vote broke the tie, leading to a "Republican majority." Your arguments might work against a claim that there were a "conservative majority," but it's pretty plain that there was a Republican majority, simply because there were 50 Republicans plus a Republican tie-breaker.

As for him being, along with a few others, a left-leaning Republican, that's true, but there's also at least two right-leaning Democrats (Zell Miller and Ben Nelson) who are actually more conservative than some Republican Senators (Bush's conservative nominee Theodore Olson was confirmed today as Solicitor General by a 51-47 vote precisely because those two Democrats broke ranks and voted with all of the remaining 49 Republicans and against all the other Democrats). So if everything were sorted out and all the anomolous members switched parties, we'd probably end up with something very close to 50-50 again.

To put it another way: It will force Bush and the right-wing ideologues along with all of the left-wing ideologues to govern from the center. And that is as it should be, IMHO.

I certainly hope so, and it remains to be seen if that will happen. A few of the more antagonistic Democrats have seemed to indicate a desire for a sort of retribution or revenge now that they're in power, and called for blocking any nominees or legislation put forth by Bush, but I certainly hope they don't prevail. Encouragingly, Zell Miller, immediately after affirming that he has no plans to switch to the Republican Party, issued a "warning" (his term) to his fellow Democrats to work together with the Bush administration and the Republicans, indicating (to me at least) that he intends to use the threat of his switching parties (and thus giving the Republicans power again) to force a more moderate agenda.

The major problem I see is the strict partisanship and emphasis on seniority in the Senate. Prior to this switch, far right-wingers like Jesse Helms and Orrin Hatch were committee chairs. After the switch, far left-wingers like Ted Kennedy will be committe chairs. In a nearly evenly split Senate, none of these men should be committee chairs; moderates should chair the committees. And that would be the natural state of affairs if it weren't for the strict partisan setup that allows the majority party to unilaterally assign committee seats, because a moderate would draw support from both parties, while a Jesse Helms or Ted Kennedy would never draw support from the other party.

[ Parent ]

Republican != conservative, Democrat != liberal (3.80 / 5) (#86)
by cargogod on Fri May 25, 2001 at 02:39:37 PM EST

... although the steady realignment of the major U.S. political parties is certainly headed in the direction that might let us rename them the Conservatives and the Liberals someday.

Historically, both parties have been "big tents", with conservative/liberal alignment being somewhat orthogonal to party affiliation. The abolition of slavery and the Progressive movement of the early 20th century were led by Republicans, after all. I think that it's an oversimplification to say that the Civil Rights Act in the 1960's triggered the modern realignment that we see today, but it sure was a big influence in the South.

My own oversimplified view of the ideologies of the American parties is that the Republicans are an uneasy coalition of small-"L" libertarians who want to minimize government and social conservatives bent on outlawing sin, with the Democrats being an uneasy coalition of "everyone else". Unless the social conservatives can keep the "moderate" libertarians in their coalition -- and the Jeffords defection is a bad sign for them -- I think that the Republicans are in trouble.



[ Parent ]

Control over comittees (3.50 / 2) (#88)
by Your Mom on Fri May 25, 2001 at 04:42:42 PM EST

You are right, as far as the actual votes would go, this isn't much of a change. However, this shifts all of the comittee charmanships to Democrats giveing them immense power over what the Senate gets to vote on. A comittee chairman can now refuse to schedule confirmation hearings, which will have a definate impact on any Supreme Court nominations, for example.

--
"As far as I'm concerned, Osama bin Laden can eat a dick." -trhurler
[ Parent ]
Begs the question... (2.00 / 3) (#90)
by Tsuraan on Fri May 25, 2001 at 06:48:02 PM EST

I'm sorry, but this doesn't beg a question. It might raise a question, or you could even say that it asks a question (although it doesn't), but it certainly doesn't beg a question. That would be responding to a question by asking one in return. Please, stop the blatant abuse of this term!

[ Parent ]
yawn (1.50 / 4) (#96)
by core10k on Sat May 26, 2001 at 01:51:07 AM EST

Oh please, you lost your pet elitist phrase, boohoo. I've lost phrases too.

Back to the topic at hand.

So the republicans have 3 of 4 power centers in the US. This calls for a song.

<PRE> And now, a word from the President! Damn it feels good to be a gangsta Gettin voted into the White House Everything lookin good to the people of the world But the Mafia family is my boss So every now and then I owe a favor gettin' down like lettin' a big drug shipment through And send 'em to the poor community So we can bust you know who So voters of the world keep supportin' me And I promise to take you very far Other leaders better not upset me Or I'll send a million troops to die at war To all you Republicans, that helped me win I sincerely like to thank you Cuz now I got the world swingin' from my nuts And damn it feels good to be a gangsta </PRE>



[ Parent ]
Beg the question? (1.00 / 1) (#105)
by PurpleBob on Sun May 27, 2001 at 12:03:25 AM EST

That's funny. All the other "beg the question" elitists say it means to make a circular argument.

Give it up already. "Beg the question" is much more useful in its common usage than its historical one. Find something better to argue against.

[ Parent ]

funny (2.00 / 2) (#91)
by maskatron on Fri May 25, 2001 at 07:32:10 PM EST

i'm not a liberal, but my first thought was the same thing. gridlock might delay the path to ruin the US is on thanks to their 'public servants'. maskatron

[ Parent ]
Switching power-- or not (3.66 / 6) (#70)
by Saxifrage on Fri May 25, 2001 at 01:59:27 AM EST

I'll make this one brief, since it is:

In short, this really doesn't change that much. What it does is gives the Democratic Party back control of one of the four federal concentrations of power. The Republicans have the House, the Supreme Court and the White House; the Democrats now have the Senate. Before, they had the White House, but none of the other three, except on rare occasions when the Supreme Court sided their way.

Will anything change? I hope this means we can go back to being the way we were for the past eight years, which meant building consensus and having both the House and Senate leadership and the President compromise on what they want-- none of this so-called "compromise", reducing the tax cut from $1.6 trillion to $1.3 trillion. Republicans hated the Clinton years, but realistically speaking, they had more compromise than Ronald Reagan ever offered the Democratic Congress on his government agenda.

Here's praying for more years of government compromise, so we really can govern from the center!
"I may disagree vehemently with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it." - Francois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire
Correction (4.50 / 4) (#99)
by Lelon on Sat May 26, 2001 at 01:27:47 PM EST

CNN reported that Jeffords won with more than 65% of the vote. It was *not* a "tough re-election"


----
This sig is a work in progress.
Changes little... (2.50 / 2) (#101)
by tapir on Sat May 26, 2001 at 02:56:35 PM EST

It's another one of those events, like Watergate, that will be particularly notable for the difference that it didn't make.

Yes, the Democrats now get to control Senate committees. It does give them a chance to block, or more likely, modify the Bush agenda. On the other hand, seeing that there are about eight Senate democrats that vote Republican, it won't make a big difference when it comes to a vote.

Note that Bush is still getting to put his deficit increase plan through. Yes, a tax cut can stimulate the economy with a relatively weak effect on inflation -- but the increasing debt sucks capital away from households and industry, raising long term interest rates and strangling the economy in the long term. But in the long term, we're all dead -- the Bush energy plan can get us to 2010 or so, when natural gas production will peak, but he'll be out of office by then...

The most interesting effect that the defection has had on public discourse. I never knew how sinister a phrase "bipartisan" was until I got involved with the Nader campaign -- lately I've been hearing the word "tripartisan" get used on NPR to describe the new situation, even though Jeffords isn't aligned with any party at all...

http://www.tcgreens.org/

Another vote for "Changes Little" (3.00 / 3) (#104)
by Ranger Rick on Sat May 26, 2001 at 10:17:40 PM EST

The only difference between Democrats and Republicans nowadays is their supposed platform. The *effective* difference is nil. Both make new, stupid laws that continue to make things worse.

It's like being given the choice of getting stabbed in the left eye, or the right. Neither is something I particularly relish. =)


:wq!


Yes but... (none / 0) (#107)
by Betcour on Sun May 27, 2001 at 04:02:52 AM EST

The stupidity of their laws is different. I can't really imagine Al Gore opening Alaska for drilling.

Or you could have vote Ralph Nader. People always complain that Republican=Democracts, yet doesn't even want to hear about alternatives...

[ Parent ]
Yup (none / 0) (#109)
by Ranger Rick on Sun May 27, 2001 at 08:29:57 AM EST

That's what I (laughingly) meant with the left-eye, right-eye thing. There *is* a difference, they each make separate, stupid laws, but the net effect is stupidity either way.


:wq!


[ Parent ]
This is a wake up call. (none / 0) (#114)
by Alhazred on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 04:44:53 PM EST

What Jim Jeffords has done IS profound. It is profound in the sense that he has demonstrated that one politician can make a difference, and do so by simply executing his obligations to his country (IE, by splitting off from a party which is determined to carry forward a blind, dangerous, and foolish set of policies).

I have to laugh so hard when I hear US politicians described as "liberals" or "conservatives". They are all basically about the same. A TRUE liberal or a TRUE conservative would want nothing to do with ANY of the agenda this country seems to be on.

This entire thing is a wake up call. All of you out there who are getting damn sick and tired of a US government, and an American culture driven entirely by money, blind greed, wilfull blindness, and complete and utter moral bankruptcy, TAKE HEART. This is only the beginning. A very small and perhaps on its own trivial beginning, but the Cro-magnon's that run this country are now on their way out of power. It will be a LONG slide, but it starts today.
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
US has always been like this .. (none / 0) (#116)
by Highlander on Mon Jun 11, 2001 at 07:13:51 AM EST

I mean, learned the word "bipartisan" from US news.

I think that US politicians are acting more flexible sometimes than european politicians, probably because they only have a choice to be a member of one of two parties, none of which really fits their opinions very well.

To the people who whine that one senator changing faction can change the political landscape: This just means that the US voters cast their votes such that the political landscape stays flexible.

Correct me if am wrong, but the president usually has to work together with an opposing Congress or Senate.

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.

Inscrutable Vermont Senator single handedly changes US political landscape. | 116 comments (94 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
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