Skip to main content

U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) addresses the second session of the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota September 2, 2008.
This was a thing.
Ten years ago, in 2004, we had a 51-49 Republican Senate. But the fact that Republican Bill Frist ran the joint wasn't the worst of it. Because look at this motley crew on our side of the aisle: Max Baucus, Evan Bayh, John Breaux, Tom Daschle, Fritz Hollings, Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, Zell Miller, and Mark Pryor.

Ugh. What a pile of suck. And those were just the worst offenders. Of that crowd, Baucus recently announced his retirement, leaving only Landrieu and Pryor—and Pryor will lose his re-election battle. Maybe Landrieu will, too. Daschle was in charge of the Democratic caucus, horrifyingly enough.

On the progressive end we had Barbara Boxer, Daniel Inouye, Daniel Akaka, Tom Harkin, Ted Kennedy, Russ Feingold and Barbara Mikulski. Maybe a handful more. Not too bad, but a minority within the party.

Today, we still have Boxer and Mikulski, but they've been reinforced by Tammy Baldwin, Sherrod Brown, Al Franken, Martin Heinrich, Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley, Chris Murphy, Bernie Sanders, Brian Schatz, Elizabeth Warren, and Sheldon Whitehouse. Furthermore, our middle-of-the-road senators are people like Jeanne Shaheen, not Bob Graham. And our conservative faction is a shell of its former self, with only Joe Manchin left at the level of our 2004 gallery of rogues. The caucus has shifted significantly to the left.

Back in 2004, Republicans held a 222-210 lead in the House. On paper, that looks better than our current 234-201 deficit. But numbers deceive, because that year the Blue Dog Coalition had 47 members, and several more were excluded because of an arbitrary cap on membership. That cap was eventually lifted, and the Blue Dogs boasted 54 members in 2010 with "Democrats" in the mold of Harold Ford and Jane Harman hogging the media spotlight. That meant that over a quarter of our caucus was happier making common cause with Republicans than with Democrats. Today, the Blue Dogs are down to 19 members, and GOP gerrymandering and retirements will whittle that down even further after this year's elections.

I haven't even gotten into policy: marriage equality, marijuana legalization, better access to health care, renewed push on economic issues (such as minimum wage hikes and broader discussion on income inequality), and so on. The Virginia election in 2013 was won on an explicitly liberal agenda.

We still have to contend with that GOP gerrymander in the House and at the state level (2010 was a huge step backward), with a conservative Supreme Court, and a media and political establishment that still overly defers to increasingly fringe Republicans. And of course, our party can be infuriatingly slow to change. But political change happens gradually, over time. And we've dramatically improved the quality and ideological cohesiveness of our Congress and are the beneficiaries of demographic trends that will only accelerate those changes.

Ten years ago, Howard Dean was branded "unelectable" because he supported civil unions. We've evolved dramatically as a society. We're nowhere close to where we want to be. But every once in a while, it's worth taking a deep breath and appreciating just how far we've come. We really are making genuine progress.

Originally posted to kos on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 12:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Meteor Blades, Mike S, Greg Dworkin, Ottoe, Sylv, Bill in Portland Maine, fcvaguy, Radiowalla, jotter, murphy, ferg, Maudlin, Jeff Simpson, Gooserock, Pandora, emal, janinsanfran, TheGreatLeapForward, Fabienne, just another vet, Midwest Meg, eeff, dsb, xynz, zknower, gjohnsit, SallyCat, bethcf4p, emelyn, exNYinTX, dpeifer1949, Creosote, Doctor Who, Heart of the Rockies, RubDMC, Dave G, Zinman, 88kathy, Ian S, Merlin1963, mikidee, shanikka, pedrito, paulitics, Ignacio Magaloni, Miss Blue, bwren, Iberian, navajo, artebella, sidnora, wader, tomephil, kharma, edrie, TexDem, virginislandsguy, Eyesbright, Noodles, johanus, kj in missouri, wdrath, NJNiceGuy, Steven Payne, Catte Nappe, AmyCat, bsegel, Brian82, outragedinSF, side pocket, Curt Matlock, randallt, KayCeSF, hayden, vivadissent, sawgrass727, Brecht, Bluesee, PDiddie, jhancock, freakofsociety, UncleCharlie, JanetT in MD, Chinton, chimene, triciawyse, terrypinder, EJP in Maine, Laurence Lewis, cfk, Aint Supposed to Die a Natural Death, kerplunk, coolbreeze, mightymouse, We Shall Overcome, ThatSinger, begone, Mother Mags, poco, hlee1169, myboo, raptavio, smokeymonkey, MargaretPOA, kck, Lefty Coaster, NBBooks, philipmerrill, bubbanomics, NCJan, JVolvo, Zwoof, middleagedhousewife, BlueMississippi, JWR, chicating, Ian Reifowitz, slakn1, Mr Horrible, Thinking Fella, BeninSC, Loudoun County Dem, offgrid, Positronicus, aravir, puakev, Via Chicago, Dave in Northridge, joedemocrat, Bridge Master, OIL GUY, nspguy, TomP, Empower Ink, djsands, mconvente, VelvetElvis, BobBlueMass, Shahryar, GAS, MikePhoenix, Sixty Something, Tchrldy, crescentdave, brooklynbadboy, VL Baker, smartdemmg, TokenLiberal, SottoVoce, Rolling, Gentle Giant, Al Fondy, dzog, Diogenes2008, malenda, BvueDem, bluebelle7, Sun dog, artmartin, J M F, weaponsofmassdeception, LinSea, timethief, RJH, bfitzinAR, Mindmover, Denise Oliver Velez, IreGyre, moviemeister76, BurningFeet, louisev, Livvy5, Tommymac, rebel ga, nocynicism, Larsstephens, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, commonmass, awcomeon, Mokurai, flitedocnm, estreya, Susan Grigsby, CS in AZ, Aramis Wyler, LOrion, BenderRodriguez, Polly Syllabic, manyamile, anonevent, ramara, MJinSM, nickrud, rja, cocinero, stevenaxelrod, TheHalfrican, Onomastic, annieli, CygnetAsh, Im a frayed knot, Bob Duck, lady blair, implicate order, Mr MadAsHell, La Gitane, BlueJessamine, DesignGuy, FarWestGirl, Ebby, ten canvassers, Kokomo for Obama, VirginiaJeff, moldyfolky, shaso, MRA NY, Reinvented Daddy, worldlotus, Vatexia, this is only a test, ratcityreprobate, SoCalSal, SteelerGrrl, jhaw, Chitown Kev, Auriandra, left over flower child, AnnetteK, anodnhajo, Chrislove, ahumbleopinion, Eric Nelson, Yahzi, Deep Texan, cinepost, stellaluna, jan4insight, Syoho, willrob, reginahny, doroma, OllieGarkey, jennyp, terrybuck, etherealfire, George3, ShoshannaD, Phoebe Loosinhouse, allensl, Greenfinches, nomandates, IamGumby, koosah, TheMeansAreTheEnd, newinfluence, kleinburger, remembrance, poopdogcomedy, aresea, Yo Bubba, Drocedus, wruckusgroink, Avilyn, nice marmot, the oklahoma kid, tampaedski, Shadowmuffin, Patango, duhban, skepticalcitizen, The Marti, Chas 981, ExpatGirl, Capt Crunch, pierre9045, Penny GC, occupystephanie, Will Stark, Zwenkau, Kasoru, QBREW, LiberalLoner, JuliathePoet, AJayne, Le Champignon, Top Banana, kfunk937, Shawn87, numble, bobcat41702, Queenofdragons6

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site