Over at Newsweek, Ben Adler makes the case –from a liberal perspective — for Democrats stripping Charlie Rangel of his chairmanship. He’s worried that if Democrats circle the wagons to defend Rangel, it will hurt them badly at the polls, just as the culture of corruption theme contributed to Republicans losing power:
The Democrats were not elected on a promise to return to the days of when the minority party had more power in policymaking, but they were elected on a promise to clean Congress’s dirty laundry. Either Democrats prove that the days of Duke Cunningham-like behavior are over, or they will repeat the mistakes of the Tom DeLay-era Republicans, and voters may punish them at the polls for their hypocrisy.
I think Adler is right to be concerned. It wasn’t just 2006 — in 1994, Democratic scandals such as the Dan Rostenkowski House post offfice fiasco helped bring Republicans to power in the first place. While ideological voters tend to decide who to vote for based on issues, election outcomes are often determined on non-ideological grounds by swing voters. This is one reason why ideological types are often surprised when their team gets to power and it turns out that the public is not as supportive of their actual policy goals as they imagined.