By Brent Budowsky - 05/24/10 09:04 PM EDT
A star was born on Super Tuesday: Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. We learned last Tuesday that a Democratic candidate for the House can win a district that was carried by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008 and is composed mostly of white working-class voters.
We also learned that Van Hollen possesses a brilliant organizational talent and the tactical skill to improvise and adapt to changing events.
I repeat the point of my earlier column, “No doom for Dems.” Democrats will lose seats, but the pundit class has been wrong by assuming the wave is against Democrats. The wave is against incumbents of both parties in a Washington establishment that is widely viewed as corrupt.
I believe Super Dem Tuesday vindicated my “no doom for Dems” scenario.
In Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Arkansas, the anti-establishment candidates ran well and leave Democrats stronger after Super Tuesday than before. Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) runs stronger than Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) against Republicans. Lt. Gov. Bill Halter runs stronger than Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) against Republicans.
In Kentucky, the victory of Rand Paul proves the power of the Tea Party movement to move the Republican Party to the far right, but also gives Democrats a chance to win an otherwise unwinnable Senate seat.
Republicans are dreading, and Democrats savoring, what will be a string of viewpoints from Dr. Paul that are far outside the American mainstream. This will drive a wedge between Tea Party Republicans and many independent and Republican voters.
This column is not a tribute to Democrats. Readers should not be surprised if I soon write a column here or elsewhere titled “Why I leave the Democrats” and become a political independent in the tradition of Theodore Roosevelt and his Bull Moose populist progressive party of 1912.
For many months I have warned Democrats that they have blown the greatest opportunity for realignment since 1932. Many voters believe the two-party system is a contest between the Party of No and the Party of No Guts, both controlled by special-interest money. I have called this dealignment, not realignment.
While voters were telling Democrats they can win by running as populists against the establishment, the Senate was passing a Wall Street bill that guarantees “too big to fail” firms will get bigger, without even the minimal courage to pass even a modest surtax on Wall Street bonuses of bailed-out firms. Money talks in both parties, at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
The lesson of Super Tuesday is that populist Democrats can win this year by fighting against the insider status quo in Washington. If enough Democrats “get it,” they will lose seats but prove the “doom for Dems” pundits wrong again.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at email@example.com.