by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
There was a time, not that long ago, when Democrats used to decry “voting in lockstep.”
That was a big talking point during the George W. Bush years, with a couple of unspoken qualifiers: “Voting in lockstep” was bad when Republicans did it, and very, very bad when Republicans did it while in the majority. That line of rhetoric lasted for a few months, until somebody did some actual reporting and found that the data demonstrated the opposite: In spite of all their humble-bragging about being more diverse and less disciplined than Republicans, Democrats in Congress in fact voted with their leadership more often than Republicans did at the time. …
… There has been a general trend toward more en bloc congressional voting for decades, and the parties have become more ideologically uniform: Republicans still have a number of important ideological cleavages as the culture warriors work to gut the Chamber of Commerce crowd, and the Democrats have been showing some cleavage lately, too, as the socialists grow annoyed with the Democrats who are dumb enough to call themselves socialists in public. But how many real wild cards are there? Not many: Justin Amash on the Republican side, maybe Joe Manchin on the Democratic side. The Free-Thinking Caucus is not exactly a growth enterprise.
But after all those years of complaining about Republicans “marching in lockstep,” the Democrats have a new program: marching in lockstep.