Monday, July 6, 2009

Cahill bails, everyone loses

Apparently Tim isn't tough enough for a Democratic primary. Sure, the deck was stacked against him, but he's re-registered out of the Democratic Party in preparation of an all-but-definite run for the governorship.

I figure nearly everyone loses:
  • Cahill loses his job, and his bid for the governor.
  • Deval Patrick supporters lose any impetus to reflect on their concept of the Democratic Party.
  • Old-school Democrats lose their strongest representative in the conversation within the party.
  • The Democratic Party's tent gets smaller.

Only Deval Patrick wins, which means that many prolific bloggers will celebrate this as a great day.

First off, I'm not voting for Cahill. If he isn't tough enough to take on Deval in a primary, he isn't tough enough to take on the problems facing this state. His infatuation with predatory gambling is nearly an addiction in its own right, and he is a cipher on too many issues. But beyond that, Cahill is running just to the left of the Republicans and just to the right of Deval. If the ideological field is going to be split that finely, the election comes down to organization and machine, something the Democrats and Deval Patrick have to spare.

What this does mean, however, is a pull to accompany a pre-existing push on many Democrats. There is a traditionalist view of the Democratic Party that predates my birth or Deval's move to Massachusetts. It's the view that a man (or woman) could count of the Democratic Party to make sure s/he could put food on the table, back up his/her right to be in a union to do it, and otherwise leave them alone. The Dems were for the common man, but they weren't going to tell the common man how to run his life.

That school of thought has been a subject of attack by Deval Patrick's followers, who love bureaucratic expansion, basing sales taxes on calorie count (soda, for example), loathe labor organization, and have the solution to any number of social issues. I'm not saying they're all wrong, but there's a lot of wrong in that approach. In addition, their palpable condescension for any other point of view than what they've newly discovered is a real push on the Democrats who built this party in the 50s and 60s.

Now these people being pushed out have somewhere to go -- the Tim Cahill campaign. Cahill is kind of a Democrat, and he's no Republican. He's not going to call you a cynic or a naysayer because you disagree with him, and he's not going to tell you he knows how you should live your life better than you do.

All of which is probably going to be very attractive to thousands of Democrats who are treated as pariahs in their own party -- the party many of them built before a dry run was needed for Obama's campaign. So as the Devalcolytes push these folks away from the party, the Cahillians are going to pull them into their campaign. Sure, it may only be 5-10% of the electorate, but that makes a difference in close State House and county races. Who knows -- if Cahill gets his head straight about gambling and education, I may be part of that 5-10%.

Of course, in December 2010 Cahill's campaign is dead, and his political future likely will be, too. The Democratic Party's "big tent" will have shrunk, and there will be a large group of people looking for a political home as the Cahill campaign is subject to electoral forclosure.

And if the Republican Party ever pulls its head out of its a--, those people are their ticket back to relevance. So I guess it's not just Deval who wins.

(Update): Blogging compatriot Charley on the MTA over at BMG has kindly linked to this post calling me an "inveterate Deval hater". The emoticon makes it clear that the comment is meant tongue in cheek. I think. Either way, it helps support some of my points.


Ryan said...

I'm not sure about the whole tent thing. Cahill doesn't exactly have a tent. There are no "Cahill Democrats" in Massachusetts. I'm not saying he couldn't have defeated Deval, had he had the courage to do it, but it would have been more likely that it would be an anti-Deval vote than pro-Cahill. Just about everything else, I agree with.

noternie said...

I like Deval and hope he picks things back up a bit in the coming months. The economy has been tough on him, but quite a few of his wounds have been self inflicted.

Ryan, you really should think again if you don't think there aren't any "Cahill Democrats" in Massachusetts. The Dem diehards that vote in the party can not carry the state on their own (see Weld, Cellucci, Romney).

Cahill will start in Quincy, Braintree, Weymouth and move up through Southie. He'll head back down through the Cape and jut through 24/495 and pause in places like Lakeville, Middleboro Eaton, Stoughton, Walpole, etc. He'll jump on the Pike and grab a bunch of votes out of Worcester County and a bunch of those counties bordering the Mississippi river that no one ever worries about.

There are a lot of conservative Dems in this state. More than you seem to acknowledge. Cahill can pick off many of them and a bunch of the people who may vote Dem, but don't register that way.

Deval and his people will take this lightly at their own peril. I think Cahill is more dangerous than Baker.

Quriltai said...

I agree with noternie, obviously. Lots of "invisible Democrats" who don't blog, go to confabs, or knock on doors -- but always, always vote -- are Cahill Democrats. Talk politics with somebody with whom you don't often talk politics, and you'll find lots of Cahill Democrats. Heck, a cursory look at Massachusetts polling shows how many there are.