Why are Democrats Quitting?

In the last few weeks several prominent Democratic politicians have announced that they will not be seeking re-election.  Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, Representative Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island, Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, and several others have decided to pursue other options.  Why? The simple, though not entirely accurate, explanation might be that they are afraid they’ll get beaten.

The reality is a little more complicated.

According to an article in the Washington Post, Bayh was frustrated by the political games being played by both parties in DC, and as a moderate Democrat, he was frustrated by the pressure in his party to go to the left.

For some of the others, however, I wonder if their frustration was from the growing opposition against going left.  After the 2008 elections the Democrats won the White House, controlled the House of Representatives, and built up a super majority in the Senate.  For those on the political left, it must have felt like Christmas.  People had been unhappy with the direction of the country, and now the Democrats were getting a chance to make some changes.

But then people wanted jobs and a government with some fiscal restraint.  Democrats have pushed government-dominated health care, promising that they could lower costs and insure an extra 30 million people at the same time without reducing services for anybody.  That always sounded impossible.

Democrats wanted businesses to follow new environmentally-friendly guidelines, but changes cost businesses money.  That’s a particularly tough sell during a recession.  Making matters worse for the apostles of global warming are charges of fudged data; information gleaned from lobbyists instead of scientists; and, oh yeah, all that cold weather.

Democrats have not been able to advance their agenda, and the pendulum seems to be swinging the other way, as Republicans are winning races here and there.  It’s like the Democrats are still in the driver’s seat, but they can’t get the car out of first gear, and now they might be running out of gas.  So, one wonders, are some Democrats quitting because they’ve grown disillusioned?  Do they feel like they’ll never be as close as they were last year–and they couldn’t take care of business during their window of opportunity?

Some Democrats see a silver lining in all of these people retiring.  These Democrats argue that if the half-hearted and the moderates quit, then it will clear the playing field for real progressives to come in and help make a difference.

So is all of this good news or bad news for Democrats?  Maybe the picture will be more clear after the November elections.