MoveOn is Wrong to Attack Hoyer
A number of readers here and at Centerfield have argued that MoveOn.org is justified in its attack on Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) because the bankruptcy bill is a bad bill (MoveOn’s ad can be heard here). But should one vote on one bill open up a congressman to public attacks from his own party?
The issue isn't whether Hoyer made the "right" decision on one bill. The issue is that American politics is being consumed by groups such as MoveOn who want government to be run on partisanship, where decisions are made on high by party hardliners and then dutifully executed by elected officials.
Steny Hoyer has been a solid Democrat on many, many issues and a strong moderate voice in a too-often polarized House. As Raw Story reports even MoveOn admits Hoyer is a good Democrat. MoveOn Washington director Tom Matzzie responded to complaints that their actions were unfair by saying:
Mr. Hoyer has a good record on a lot of issues and we like him… but it’s never acceptable for a leader in the party… to disagree with the rest of the party on an issue connected to core values like justice for middle class values, especially when it’s such an obvious Republican bill.
But Hoyer wasn’t some renegade on this issue. As reported in the Baltimore Sun, Hoyer was just one of 73 Democrats who voted for the bill. But instead of fostering a clearly much-needed debate within the party, MoveOn is using harsh, disciplinary tactics to weaken a party leader.
MoveOn doesn’t want debate. MoveOn wants conformity to its vision. And it’s that attitude that is so worrisome for moderates. If congressmen and women fear reprisal for voting “wrongly” on so much as one bill, there will be no room for centrists.
The question is not whether you agree with Hoyer’s vote but whether you want political parties that use their money and power to silence all dissent and all moderates in their own party.
For more on this issue, check out The Moderate Voice’s excellent coverage on the threat to centrism.
Update: for even more on this issue, we've posted thoughts here