Enforcing Party Discipline
If Republicans are too harsh on their members (like Delaware’s Rep. Mike Castle) for occasionally voting out of step with their party, are Democrats too lenient? In the wake of Republican soul searching today over the loss of yet another stalwart GOP moderate, Politico notes that on the other side of the aisle the threats of retribution leveled against the 34 House Democrats who voted against health care reform in March have entirely fizzled:
But five months later, the group of 34 has emerged from primary season not much worse for the wear. Every one of the 30 lawmakers who voted against the health care bill and is seeking another term won re-nomination.
Of course, Democrats’ laissez faire attitudes towards their candidates’ diversity of views is one of the reasons they were able to claim such a large majority in 2008, but the lack of an effective means of enforcing party discipline though effective primary challenges poses its own problems.
With no fallout for bucking their party on health care, wavering Democrats will likely experience few incentives to tow the line on other tough issues, like energy or immigration. There’s a fine line between promoting inclusiveness and enforcing orthodoxy, and it’s one with which both parties are evidently still struggling.