Thursday, May 13, 2010

You Will Obey

Oh, must it be a three-day stupidity run? It must.

On Tuesday, US House member Alan Mollohan (D-WV) was primaried out in favor of Mike Oliverio by the score of 56-44. The race is figured as a toss-up for the general in November.

Voters of West Virginia's 1st, I say to you, knowing little to nothing about Oliverio's actual policies, that you might as well vote Republican in November. For you see, Mike Oliverio has already doomed himself. Even if he is elected to Congress, he will never ever ever be in a position of influence.

For you see, Mike Oliverio has already made overtures about going rogue on the most important vote of all: the vote for Speaker of the House. He has called out Nancy Pelosi and indicated he might not cast his Speaker vote for her.

Going rogue on the Speaker vote is the single most damaging move you could ever make as a member of Congress. You could walk into the chamber naked and sodomize a page, and it would be less damaging to your political career than disobeying orders on the Speaker vote. You could grab the Mace of the House and beat someone with it, and it would be less damaging. You could kill and eat Dylan Ratigan, and it would... well, actually, that wouldn't be all that bad.

Never mind making these overtures when you're not even in Congress yet. That is a flashing siren saying, nay, screaming, "I AM TO BE LEFT TO FEND FOR MYSELF. I WILL PROBABLY WIND UP SWITCHING PARTIES SOMETIME IN MY FIRST TERM ANYWAY."

This goes for both parties. Once you are told who the party is supporting for Speaker- and there's no reason to suggest Pelosi wouldn't retain Democratic support for the next go-around- that is not a suggestion. That is not a hint. That is a direct order. Obey or watch your influence within your party, your influence on legislation, any committee memberships you might have, watch all of that die a swift, painful, agonizing death. You're done. You might have the seat, but the seat, and the vote that goes with it, is all you have from that point forward. Show up, cast your vote, go home. That's it. You're a tally mark and nothing more.

Maybe, MAYBE, if you at least vote for another person within the party, maybe they'll let you live. This is how Gene Taylor (D-MS) got by from 2001-2006, throwing his vote to Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania instead of the agreed-upon Dick Gephardt of Missouri and later Pelosi while Democrats were in the minority. (When they gained power, though, Taylor fell in line.)

But God help you if you cross party lines. Also in 2001, Jim Traficant's (D-OH) orders were to vote for Gephardt, but he instead, as he had warned for months beforehand, voted for Republican Dennis Hastert of Illinois, and ended up thrown out of the Democratic caucus entirely as a result. (As it happened, Traficant would be expelled from Congress outright the next year on a corruption conviction.)

And, again, this is before Oliverio has even been elected yet. If your party even THINKS you're going to disobey on the Speaker vote if you get in, they'll simply make sure you don't get in.

And don't think the Dems aren't going to be looking for it. They already lost control of the New York State Senate in just such a manner last year. They know the partisan split could end up extremely close come next year's Speaker vote. They won't tolerate another Traficant. They likely won't even tolerate a Gene Taylor. They won't let that happen in Congress. And the Republicans are going to be the same way regarding John Boehner.

Maybe Oliverio's views are the best fit for West Virginia's 1st District. Perhaps he's the most capable choice. But by even hinting that he won't fall in line on that first vote, he guarantees he won't be able to effectively fight in any of the others. He's politically dead before he's even gotten to the show.

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