Rhode Island’s Poor National Representation
Could there be anything more indicative of poor representation than Rep. Patrick Kennedy’s dogged insistence that he’s going to shoot for the healthcare stars, no matter what the people say?
Kennedy flatly endorsed a strategy for passage of the pending health-care overhaul that many fellow Democrats are wary of pursuing: a swift vote in the House to accept the Senate version of the bill verbatim.
“We can come back and fix those problems,” Kennedy argued, perhaps by using arcane budget-writing rules that might let Democrats win controversial votes by a simple majority in the 100-member Senate. As it stands, Brown represents the 41st Republican vote that could permit them to block the health-care initiative. Kennedy said the alternative to immediate action may be the loss of a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to advance national health-care legislation.
Kennedy’s post-mortem on the Massachusetts result appeared to jibe with Democratic sentiment expressed Tuesday by White House senior advisor David Axelrod for a preemptive populist campaign that would brand Republicans as handmaidens of a special-interest status quo represented by Wall Street and the insurance industry.
The clear message of the right-of-center populist trends, of the past year, from the Tea Parties to Scott Brown’s proclamation of “the independent majority, is that Americans understand that both parties are indebted to special interests (although there’s increasing appreciation of the fact that the interests don’t line up perfectly with the parties as if they were opposing teams). In the current policy disputes, we just prefer the policies associated with interests, such as Wall Street, that Kennedy despises. That could change, of course, were Republicans to pursue real healthcare reform to that limited the importance of large insurance carriers; in such a case, the independent majority would likely part ways from the insurance lobby.
One can only hope that the upcoming elections prove that Rhode Islanders are tiring of the simplistic analysis that our current delegation insists on serving up. Many of us are also fed up with dead-end promises such as this, from Langevin:
Langevin also said that it’s essential that Democrats indicate their solidarity with angry voters by heeding their message from Massachusetts. He said he wants to signal to his Rhode Island constituents “that I’m listening and I hear them.”
All I can picture is Rep. Langevin’s town hall meeting in Warwick, this summer. Among his peers, his performance was certainly the least scripted, and for that, he gets courage points, but little evidence emerged, subsequently, that Mr. Langevin’s listening and hearing had any effect on his doing.