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The victims of party sweeps

The problem with elections in which one party rides a wave is that many exceptional people from the other party get driven from office. When voters want to send a message, they often ignore the individual qualities of the candidates and vote for party. That is a perfectly rational thing to do. But some good folks get left by the wayside.

Thus did the Democratic sweeps in 2006 and 2008 lead to the defeats of two of the most thoughtful moderates in the Republican party, Jim Leach of Iowa and Chris Shays of Connecticut.

Whatever happens this Tuesday, it's clear that a lot of good Democrats will lose -- and by "good," I'm not referring to whether I agree with them or not but simply to the quality of their service. I was especially struck by new polls out this week showing that Reps. Chet Edwards of Texas and John Spratt of North Carolina were in real jeopardy. Both are more conservative than I am, but each would be a real loss to the House.

I've gotten to know Edwards pretty well over the years because we like to talk (and argue) about church-state issues. And I don't think anyone is more devoted to members of the active-duty military than he is. As often as not, when I heard from Edwards it was not so he could talk about himself but so he could pass along observations from the Army captains and majors he has gotten to respect and admire. A few years back he sent me a long letter he had received from an officer who had served in Iraq. It was an exceptionally wise and shrewd analysis of the direction of the war, and I felt compelled to share it with readers. If Edwards does indeed lose, I suspect his defeat will be mourned by many Republicans and not just Democrats -- much as Rep. Mike Castle's Delaware Republican Senate primary defeat bred sadness in both parties.

And John Spratt is an old-fashioned southern gentleman. He also has progressive views on race and a wide and deep understanding of the federal budget. If the next two years will be occupied by deficit reduction, it will be a shame not to have Spratt in the middle of those conversations and debates.

I thus suggest that at the Stewart/Colbert moderates march participants take a moment to think about the defeated Leach, Shays, and Castle and the endangered Edwards and Spratt. Some political moderates are simply split-the-difference sorts of politicians. Others work hard to turn moderation into a serious and substantive worldview.

By E.J. Dionne  | October 29, 2010; 3:05 PM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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Comments

The chairman of the party of victimhood. Maybe we can march on over to Namby Pamby land and find you some self confidence. Tissue EJ?,.....you crybaby.

Posted by: elcigaro1 | October 29, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

One comment?!? Really?? Seriously?! Thank God he's online and not wasting tress with his boo-hoo Krugman crap!

Posted by: kdd27 | October 29, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Somebody has a homoerotic fixation on R. Lee Ermey to the detriment of their personal development.
Until we eliminate the two party system this is how we will roll. And blaming Democrat wins for the death of the moderate wing of the Republican Party begs the a lot of historical questions. Where were you and what were you doing when the Bircher/Silver Shirt/Deutsche-American Freundshaft Bund were taking over the GOP and actively crushing their moderates? Did you miss that somehow? The GOP will join the Whigs on the trash heap of history because demographics don't lie-racism and white ethnic identity is losing the numbers game.

Posted by: sparkplug1 | October 29, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

If you are a fan of Rep. Spratt, you should at least know his home state. Hint. it's not North Carolina.

Posted by: davestep11 | October 30, 2010 4:31 AM | Report abuse

Evidently "sparky" your confused by those testicles dangling in front of your face between homage and homoerotic. My guess is "sparky" you've never served our country in any capacity other then pretending to be an expert on the current American condition. Please don't assume you know whats best for me or any other citizen in this country. Go back to your world of academia and pretend your smarter then the rest of us unclean masses.

Posted by: elcigaro1 | October 30, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

When using division as a political strategy, Mr. Dionne, it is wise to assure that in the dividing, you end up with the larger piece.

This article is another whine about how the liberal is not responsible for his own failure.

Can't wait until Nov. 3 to hear how Mr. Dionne spins things.

Posted by: Crmudgeon | October 30, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Good Democrats? There may be some that voted against the health care bill, but still only after the there was enough "yea" democrats to pass it and Nancy let them.

I think the past two years showed that there are no good Democrats, and unfortunately few good Republicans.

The test of "Good" is what you do with power and I trust the GOP will get the chance to be Good. And fail. But not as badly as the Democrats these last two years.

Posted by: flyover22 | October 30, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, you meant good Democrat in the sense that they always vote with Democrats and like those good moderate Republicans that vote with the Democrats. I thought you meant good in the ethical and principled sense.
My mistake.

Posted by: flyover22 | October 30, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Seriously? ALL of those people need to be voted out, it just so happens that there are more dems. We need to keep voting out incumbents, and we need to make it less lucrative to be a rep/sen in the first place.
NO ONE should be 'governing' for 20 + years. It's absurd. They have no idea what real people to every day, or how to earn a living, or how the laws they pass affect real people. You know, the ones who are working rather than partying it up and benefitting from lobbyists.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 30, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Dionne, there is nothing serious or substantive about a moderate. Moderates generally mean that they stand for nothing or vote Democrat more often than not. As a Texan I am embarrassed by Chet Edwards blindly voting with Speaker Pelosi 97% of the time to the detriment of the people he represents. As for Edwards' respect for the military, he sat silent while Pelosi, Reid, and others in the Democrat party lambasted President Bush, General Petraeus and our military because of partisan politics. Edwards is a lapdog for the left and is on his way out of Congress because he forgot his place and whom elected him.

Posted by: 4763irmd | October 30, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

It's the American way, E.J. Too bad you've never understood that - and too bad that nobody cares about your opinion!

Posted by: georges2 | October 31, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Nice article, this is an understated issue by most media outlets. The anger is not going to replace the candidates who need it; it is ironic that the iconic bad crop of government officials will remain untouched. How ever, the officials who use their position to do their jobs and solve problems, avoiding the ego of being a mouthpiece on every talk show that airs, will likely be the ones to face the executioners song on election day.

Posted by: rtriley | November 1, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

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