Why Aren’t There More Like This Guy?

“I have always said that I would put aside partisan wrangling to do the business of the people. My vote tonight was based on my priority of doing what is best for my constituents.”

So said Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao (R-LA) the sole Republican member of the House of Representatives to vote in favor of health care reform, thereby making minority whip Eric Cantor’s bragging that his party would stand unified against the bill look silly and putting the lie to his party’s efforts to block reform. Cao said, in essence, that he voted for it because it was simply the right thing to do.

It’s especially telling that he submitted his “yes” vote well before time expired, meaning that he planned to stick his neck out no matter whether the finally tally looked like it would be close, a sure winner, or a sure loser.

Unfortunately for Republicans (and unfortunately for the country as a whole), Cao is less representative of their party these days than the people in the video of House debate below. The exchange beginning at around 35 seconds in is particularly exemplary: the Democratic representative is saying she supports reform that “ensures no mother will ever have her child’s care denied because of a pre-existing condition.” Meanwhile, the Republican representative is repeating “I object,” over her words ad nauseum.

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3 Responses to “Why Aren’t There More Like This Guy?”

  1. Torrey Says:

    And if it goes the other way, you call them a hypocrite and a dissenter? Shall we tar and feather those of the Democratic party for whom Pelosi fought tooth and nail, but failed to deliver? Just because one guy broke ranks claiming it was the right thing to do doesn’t make it so simply because you agree with him…

    • ianheath653 Says:

      Absolutely not. My point is this: nobody ā€” least of all a bunch of Democrats ā€” expects a bunch of Democrats to fall into lock-step on any particular issue. Yet, this is now expected behavior from the top down with Republicans. There’s something pathological about that. As far as I know, none of the Democrats who voted against the House health care bill have seen fundraisers canceled as a result of their vote. Yet, this is exactly what’s happening with Cao. The end result of this will likely be that the Republican Party and conservatives will lose yet another seat in some twisted pursuit of ideological purity just like they did in upstate New York last week. It’s as though anyone who isn’t somewhere to the right of Grover Norquist and James Dobson simultaneously is slowly getting drummed out of the Republican Party. Republican representatives are expected to toe the party line on every issue, rather than take the interests of the people they’re supposed to be representing into account on every vote. Democratic representatives, however, seem to be given more latitude to vote according to what the actual opinions of people in their districts are, especially if they represent a more conservative district.

      Take a look at my state. Our two senators are Bob Casey, Jr., a Democrat who happens to be anti-abortion (do you believe that a staunchly pro-choice Republican could win a Republican primary now?), and Arlen Specter, a Democrat who until recently was a Republican because there’s no longer any chance of a pragmatic centrist winning a Republican primary. I seriously doubt that Tom Ridge, a centrist on many economic issues who also happens to be pro-choice, could get elected Governor again today. Strike that ā€” he could get elected Governor today if he ran as a Democrat, but I really don’t believe that he could get the Republican Party’s nomination these days. That’s the difference between the Democratic and Republican parties at the national level these days: people like me may disagree vehemently with the Democrats who voted against the health care bill and call them all sorts of rude names, but we aren’t trying to run them out of the party.

      In the long term, it doesn’t do this country any good if the Republican Party implodes in a repeat of the Whig Party’s devolution into the Know-Nothings, but it looks an awful lot like that’s what might be happening. We don’t have a parliamentary system here, where there are multiple parties that come together to build governing and opposition coalitions following each election. Instead, diverse interest groups form their governing coalitions under the umbrella of the two major parties here. Those coalitions aren’t perfectly coordinated, nor should they be. When one of those two parties becomes dominated by people who have no interest in coalition-building, it means that this country’s likely in for an extended period of single-party rule. That can’t be healthy.

  2. Torrey Says:

    Hence why I vote Libertarian, and I Know Nothing. You should really consider moving to Illinois, where one of our senators, Roland Burris, was semi-illegally appointed by our now indicted former governer, and our current governor, who rails against his predecessor (though he served as his lieutenant gov.), will not cut any of the horrible social programs currently crippling our state, and instead insists on raising taxes. I firmly believe that the solution is in MORE parties, not simply the SAME parties, for many of the reasons you to which you have alluded.

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