Mark Schmitt

Mark Schmitt is director of the program on political reform at the New America Foundation and former executive editor of The American Prospect

 

 

Recent Articles

THE "WRONG" CANDIDATES....

THE "WRONG" CANDIDATES. Michael Tomasky yesterday delivered an eloquent version of the challenge to the conventional wisdom that Democrats won the House by running conservative candidates. He's right, of course, although as I argued , the perception that the Democratic Party has moved a bit toward the center is not harmful, even if it just reaffirms the reality that this is and has long been a center-left party. My answer to this argument had been simply to point out that there were two kinds of districts Democrats won: moderate-liberal districts formerly represented by so-called moderate Republicans, and won by moderate-to-liberal Democrats, and a smaller number of conservative districts, such as North Carolina-11, where a moderate-conservative Democrat unseated a very conservative Republican. It's true, of course, that few of the newly elected Democrats are quite as far left as, say, John Conyers , but that's simply because the districts that are going to elect a Conyers already do...

GO AHEAD, CALL THEM CONSERVATIVE DEMS. WHY SHOULD WE CARE?

GO AHEAD, CALL THEM CONSERVATIVE DEMS. WHY SHOULD WE CARE? Unlike Tom Schaller , I have to admit, I wasn�t bothered at all by the spin that the Democrats won because they embraced a lot of candidates with conservative views and backgrounds. Now Tom�s a political scientist, so he has to be concerned with empirical truth and all that stuff (didn�t Karl Rove get rid of that?), and as a matter of truth, he and the legendary political researcher Dennis Yedwab are of course right: the bulk of the Democratic majority came from Northeast, Midwest and Mountain seats where the winners were not conservative. So the spin that the Democrats won because they moved in a more conservative direction is inaccurate. But so what? Consider the alternative spin, which is that Democrats are a bunch of extreme liberals, who will be as far out of touch as the Republicans and who will be destroyed in 2008? I�d rather have a party that�s fairly liberal but has a reputation or image as moderate than one that�s...

THE SENATE OF THE FUTURE.

THE SENATE OF THE FUTURE. If the Democrats fall short of control of the Senate tonight or after a Virginia recount, or even if they hold only a one seat margin, begin to familarize yourself with the list at this link . These are the Senators of Class II, those whose seats will be up in 2008. There are 12 Democrats, and 21 Republicans. Of the Dems, the only likely retirees would be Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey (the GOP just took its last best shot at a NJ Senate seat), perhaps John Kerry , and perhaps Biden if he gives up his seat to run for president, which if he asked me, I would advise against. The only vulnerable Dem in the class is Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Of the 21 Republicans, on the other hand, there are a few likely retirements: John Warner , Pete Domenici , and Ted Stevens , from Virginia, New Mexico, and Alaska respectively. The first two states are trending seriously Democratic, the third always has possibilities. (Plus, Mark Warner might run for the John Warner seat,...

INVESTIGATE OR GOVERN!

INVESTIGATE OR GOVERN! I have no appetite for making election outcome predictions, but one thing that I foresee with certainty is that if the Democrats win anything tonight, the spin over the next few days will be, to quote the Republican I appeared against on the BBC last night: "If the Democrats want to spend the next two years investigating everything, they can forget any hope of winning the presidency in 2008. If they want to work with President Bush and govern, then there's some hope for them." This is not just a right-wing talking-point. Said with proper earnestness and attitude of "I only want what's best for the country," it's a good line for everyone from those who stand to go to jail as a result of the investigations all the way to the Broder/Matthews wing of the media, and beyond. I've heard similar sentiments from various Washingtonians of all political stripes. Investigate or govern. That's your choice, Speaker Pelosi . And, of course, this is a terrible trap and a false...

THE RETURN TO...

THE RETURN TO NORMALCY. Here's a brief attempt at a grand unified theory of Tuesday's election: Think of the Republican Party as caught in the middle of an attempt to retreat back to a state of normal or equilibrium politics, after creating and exploiting a singularity, an unsustainable period of polarization around huge ideological questions and ultra-high-risk political tactics. If you need a baseball metaphor, think of a baserunner who stole second, thought he could steal third, and is now scrambling to get back ahead of the throw. If you need a financial metaphor, it's a hedge fund frantically trying to unwind its positions before they become worthless -- in effect, the last days of Long-Term Capital Management in 1998. And the Democratic mission is to make sure they cannot get safely back to normalcy. What do I mean by normal or equilibrium politics? I'm not using some arcane jargon of political theory, but just the mundane truisms of punditry and political science: Local...

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