| Very insightful post by Gaius Publius at Americablog - "The Rachet Effect - Why do post-Carter politics only move to the right?":
The American political system, since at least 1968, has been operating like a ratchet, and both parties - Republicans and Democrats - play crucial, mutually reinforcing roles in its operation.
The electoral ratchet permits movement only in the rightward direction.
The Republican role is fairly clear; the Republicans apply the torque that rotates the thing rightward.
The Democrats' role is a little less obvious. The Democrats are the pawl. They don't resist the rightward movement - they let it happen - but whenever the rightward force slackens momentarily, for whatever reason, the Democrats click into place and keep the machine from rotating back to the left.
Most Americans, Progressives especially, dodged a bullet with Republican's Epic Fail on these fiscal curb negotiations. Some will be hurt by congress' chronic dysfunction: the unemployed, employees at companies with CEOs who are hostile to their needs, and workers in borderline busy industries like construction. But, DC Dems were poised to give away the store in order to claim the near-worthless title of "bipartisan legislator". There will now be a whole group of more progressive Democrats with spines sworn into office in just a few weeks.
Our Democratic Employees/Representatives in Washington, DC, could learn a thing or two by reading GP's entire post. The lessons are obvious. But the strategy will be ineffective unless Dems finally take the spinal transplant originally begun by Howard Dean and finally grow a pair (Yes, I'm talking to male legislators specifically here. Our female ones are looking much tougher than their counterparts.)