News that Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson has decided to pack it in and not seek reelection in 2012 has progressives simply beside themselves with glee. Finally, the DINO is stepping aside and the Party can run a true progressive to fill that seat. Good riddance to bad rubbish, right?
Of course, the fact that we’re talking about Nebraska – one of the ten most conservative states in the country – doesn’t matter to the faithful. All they can see and remember is how much of an irritant Nelson has been throughout his two terms in the Senate. While he did cast the deciding vote in the Healthcare reform bill, he managed to get his state exempt from paying billions in Medicaid expansion costs, a stunt which has now given the GOP a wedge issue in the 2012 election. And then there is his voting record, decidedly conservative. Only Mary Landrieu of Louisiana has a lower rating among progressives. Not even Party scab Joe Lieberman is held with such contempt.
Completely overlooked by the Left is the fact that Nelson’s two wins in this very Red state are nothing short of miraculous given the makeup of the electorate there – he’s the only Democrat among the state’s five member congressional delegation – and, if you subtract the Northeast and West coast, most Democrats are moderates at best. Progressives may not want to admit it, but they do NOT represent the majority in the country, let alone Washington.
All that, however, is beside the point. For the moment progressives have gotten what they were wishing for. Well forgive me for being a party pooper and refusing to drink the Kool-Aid, but if anyone on the Left thinks that Nelson’s exit means a more progressive Democrat will waltz into Washington, that Kool-Aid must be spiked with something real strong. The Blue Dogs, for better or worse, were the reason Democrats enjoyed huge majorities in both chambers of Congress for two years. Many of those Blue Dogs were in swing districts and/or conservative states and when they lost in last year’s midterms, gone went the House, with the Senate precariously close to doing the same. Believing that they can somehow purge their ranks of the “impure” like their counterparts on the Right is a recipe for failure.
As things stand now, Democrats will be quite fortunate to hold the Senate. Nelson’s seat will almost certainly go Red. Kent Conrad’s seat in North Dakota is a virtual tossup. There are 23 Democratic seats up for grabs against only 10 for Republicans. If the GOP picks up 4 seats next year they win the Senate. Assuming Elizabeth Warren beats Scott Brown – she currently leads him by four points – that would mean Dems would have to hold serve in 19 of their Senate contests, a tall order. Now is NOT the time for being picky. The most conservative Democrat is still light years ahead of anything the GOP has in its offing.
That progressives still don’t get this is mind numbing, not to mention suicidal.