11.14.2013 1

The Moderate Democrat: Friend or Foe?

HaganBy David Bozeman

You almost have to pity North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan — she just never knows which way the wind is blowing.  In all fairness, even the most astute political watchers can’t agree as to whether the Tarheel state is predominantly red or blue, so can we reasonably demand more from a freshman political opportunist?

Senator Hagan rode into power on Barack Obama’s coattails in 2008.  Mitt Romney, however, carried the state in 2012 — barely.  GOP governor Pat McCrory’s approval ratings appear mixed, but, worthy of note, Fayetteville just elected its first Republican mayor in 40 years — again, barely.

Yet on one thing everyone agrees — Obama-care is the biggest national flop since new Coke, thus Senator Hagan, along with fellow Democrats Mark Begich (AK), Mary Landrieu (LA), Mark Pryor (AR) and Jeanne Shaheen (NH) have all urged President Obama to delay both the deadline for signing up and the penalty for non-compliance.  By an odd coincidence, Hagan and the aforementioned Democrats are all — I’m not making this up — facing re-election in 2014!

Yet they also, in September of 2010, voted down a Republican resolution to protect policies from being grandfathered into the Affordable Care Act, which has lead to thousands of cancellations.  And, need I add, they also voted for Obama-care to begin with.

Now that Americans for Prosperity has begun running ads in NC against the senator, Hagan (with help from national Democrats) is fighting back, predictably touting herself as a common-sense voice for her state.  North Carolinians, like most everyone else, are indeed outraged at the reality of Obama-care, but Hagan could well get away with her opportunistic ruse.  With no Republican frontrunner yet to emerge, poll numbers remain hard to decipher, but no one thought her a serious challenger to Elizabeth Dole in 2008.

In a nutshell, if you’re a liberal, why all the centrist posing?  Embrace your progressive ideology.  Shout it from the rooftops.  The left-wing Americans for Democratic Action rates Sen. Hagan 95 percent on positions.  By contrast, the American Conservative Union gives her a lifetime score of just 9 percent and Americans for Prosperity 12. In 2010, North Carolina decisively approved a Constitutional amendment protecting the definition of marriage as one man/one woman.  Yet when prominent national Democrats reversed their long-held opposition to gay marriage, Hagan fell in line like a domino.  If her stand is based on principle, fine, but don’t count on her to champion that stand in TV ads next year.  She, after all, is one of us.

Kay Hagan is by no means the only political opportunist in Washington and is far from the worst.  But what a sad commentary on leadership when we expect noting better.  To complicate matters more for the average voter, a handful of Democrats out there actually can, arguably, claim the mantle of moderate or even moderate-conservative. NC Congressman Mike McIntyre joined one other Democrat (Jim Matheson of Utah) in late September in voting with Republicans to defund Obama-care while keeping the government in operation.  He stands by that vote.  However, he and Matheson both won in 2012 by narrow margins.  Opportunism or principle?  McIntyre is clearly a better ideological fit for a marginally conservative NC than Kay Hagan is, but can one ever be sure?

Moderates and opportunists of either party are insidious threats to liberty, as they are too hard to predict.  Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is more principled, courageous and easier to read than Hillary Clinton, the very face of modern political opportunism.  Rule of thumb:  a D by a politician’s name is no guarantee that your liberty is in jeopardy, but proceed with extreme caution.

David Bozeman, former Libertarian Party Chairman, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

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