The Responsible Caucus

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Apr 17, 2008 at 19:00


In Congress, there are 48 members of the Blue Dog caucus. There are 64 members of the New Democratic coalition. There are 72 members of the Progressive Caucus. And now, 55 Democratic challengers have signed onto the Responsible Plan to End the War In Iraq. Given its increasing size, a full-fledged "Responsible Caucus" is emerging in the Democratic Party, of roughly equal size to the three other ideological congressional caucuses.

This is an extremely important event with real possibilities to change the Democratic Congress. While the Responsible Caucus is composed of prospective members of Congress rather than current members, it also distinguishes itself from the other caucuses by having a wider range, and longer list, of specific legislation it endorses. In fact, 17 pieces of legislation are listed in Appendix A of the plan. So, while its members are prospective rather than current, it actually already includes numerous current members of the House. Further, the sheer amount of specific legislation makes it a much more coherent caucus in terms of policy than most, or all, of the other ideological caucuses. Yet further, the ranks of the Responsible continue to grow, with forty new members joining in the last month alone.

Something very big is happening with The Responsible Plan. It might be happening somewhat under the radar, and it might not be directly related to the presidential primary, but this could be the most important development in the Democratic Party over the last two months. Large numbers of Democratic congressional challengers are organizing themselves around specific legislation without guidance or supervision of existing party committees or leadership. Effective, progressive leadership is emerging, and that is a very welcome development.

Chris Bowers :: The Responsible Caucus

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Impressive (4.00 / 2)
This is really impressive. It's reassuring to know that while the Democratic primary devolves into a freak show, at least there is some worthwhile organizing going on.  

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

Talking Solutions (0.00 / 0)
I think the key with the responsible plan is that it creates a great opportunity for people to come together and start talking about how we can responsibly get out of Iraq.

I'm glad to see that our elected officials are beginning to realize that we have to unite around the desire to see a positive plan instead of a partisan agenda like Bush and McCain.


Support All Across the Country (0.00 / 0)
I'm glad to see that the plan is also getting support from all across the country and isn't just being signed onto by little pockets of candidates from a certain area. A prime example is the fact that Jeff Merkley, who's running for US Senate from Oregon, and Leslie Byrne, who's running for the US House of Representatives from Virginia, have both signed onto the plan.

Howard Dean's 50 state strategy is based upon the principle that we will do better if the Democrats from every state are running a good organization. I think the same concept can be applied here. If there's people from all across the country, then it will be a lot easier for the recommendations made in the Responsible Plan to actually be put into action.


Great news (0.00 / 0)
This is really great news. It would be interesting to look at how many of these candidates have a reasonable chance of winning. If we can pick up 20-30 seats, how many of them will be cosigners of the Responsible Plan? I think our 2006 class came into power much bolder politically than the rest of the house, but not too much better policy wise. This could be a crop of Democrats who we are really proud of. Willing to take on the Republicans, and willing to push for real progressive policy as well.

It so often seems that Democrats are squandering great opportunities, to see them grabbing one is really fantastic.

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.


Byrne has a good shot (4.00 / 1)
Leslie Byrne, VA-11, signed onto the plan and has a good shot at winning.

Leslie's raised a substantial amount of money, received the endorsement of many of the leading progressive organizations (including Blue Majority). She's facing a tough primary, but one set of poll numbers I saw had her up by 10 points and it's likely that the winner of the Democratic primary will go on to win the general.


[ Parent ]
Another thought (0.00 / 0)
What do we think of the signers joining the Out of Iraq caucus en masse when they enter the house? Or the progressive caucus?

I guess many of them might be resistant to that, but maybe there is some similar collective statement that could be effective. Would it be effective for them to actually start a new caucus and allow other House members to join?  

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.


I think you have it backwards... (0.00 / 0)
we need the rest of the party to join the Responsible Caucus en masse. Pressuring the people who have already signed onto the plan seems misdirected.  They are doing the right thing.  There are plenty of challengers and incumbents who have yet to take a stand on the Plan.

Thinking about these challengers as a caucus is a great idea.  

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


[ Parent ]
I see where you are coming from (0.00 / 0)
Fair enough. I certainly see the draw. The only downside I can think of is in terms of long-term institution building. When the issues they have tied themselves are gone, the caucus loses all meaning. (Everyone considers themselves responsible, it is one of the selling points of the Blue Dogs.)

If they were to join the progressive caucus (although many of them might not want to, and many of them might not actually be progressive across the board) that would at least add to a long-term organization that promotes progressive power.

I'm more and more disagreeing with myself though. Given that they have tied themselves to such a broad set of reforms, it may be worth simply trying to get as many people as possible on board with them. If the caucus disappears or loses its effectiveness after they've fixed the media, restored the constitution and weaned us off of foreign oil, I guess that is pretty much ok with me.

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.


[ Parent ]
Very good news but a (naïve) question (0.00 / 0)
When you say "Congress", I think "House and Senate". But is this caucus purely a House caucus, or does it include both Representatives and Senators?

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