Maine’s Angus King still doesn’t want to caucus with anyone

Guy running to replace Olympia Snowe continues to break ground in the fetishization of "independence"

Topics: 2012 Elections, Angus King, Olympia Snowe, U.S. Senate,

Maine's Angus King still doesn't want to caucus with anyoneAngus King (Credit: AP/Joel Page)

Angus King, the independent candidate for Olympia Snowe’s soon-to-be vacated U.S. Senate seat, is not backing off his pledge to not caucus with anyone should Mainers decide to send him to the world’s most deliberative body. Here (again via David Nir) is a laudatory editorial from Seacoast Online praising King’s independence:

However the election shakes out this fall, it’s clear that the majority margin will be razor thin. Into this situation, any party candidate, no matter how reasonable, automatically comes with baggage. “We could send down a combination of Pericles and Thomas Jefferson, and if that person’s reporting to (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid or (Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell, he’s going to be ineffective. Every vote is a test vote. Every vote is party loyalty. We’re sunk if it keeps up this way,” King said.

He believes, if he heads to Washington truly as an independent and beholden to no one, he may have a chance to break the logjam. Certainly, if five or six senators like him were elected to Washington — which could just happen in 2014 if politicians around the country see that King has been effective — it could end the damaging political impasse.

You Might Also Like

Once more: “Caucusing” with a party in the Senate does not mean “always voting in lockstep with.” Caucusing with the Democrats does not force you take take marching orders from Harry Reid, as anyone who has paid attention to the news over the last five years or so should know by now. But not caucusing with anyone means you don’t get any committee assignments, or any say over legislative priorities.

The Senate is a two-party body and operating entirely outside the party system means giving up most of the power associated with being a senator. This is not because of “partisanship” but because of the nature of the institution. And if the party split is 50/50, the way some “fierce independent” like King would leverage his power would be to make a deal to get some plum committee assignments in exchange for caucusing with one of the parties. That would be very good politics for that guy, and it would also illustrate how “moderates” already have a great deal of power in the essentially undemocratic Senate.

If this is King’s plan, and his “I don’t understand what it means to caucus” talk is just designed to get the parties to start wooing him, then he’ll fit in just fine. But the way to end the logjam in the Senate would actually be to just force it to adhere to regular majority rule like the House (or to abolish it altogether — I am keeping the dream alive!). Five random non-caucusing independents would just be five more senators with the ability to halt all Senate business but no ability to actually accomplish things.

Also, “independence” is not an inherent virtue and party affiliation is a useful method by which voters, who are not and should not have to be political experts, determine what a candidate stands for, and “partisanship” is a really facile and inadequate explanation for what is wrong with American politics.

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>