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The Good Slytherins

slytherins.jpgReading through the Harry Potter books, the one thing that’s really irritated me throughout about what’s an otherwise-excellent series is that while the members of other Houses are allowed to be fully-realized human beings, those of Slytherin House are pretty much allowed only to be evil — or, if not out-and-out evil, cowardly. Even the “good Slytherins” are pretty scummy, one-dimensional caricatures ninety percent of the time — to the point where, every so often, I feel like grabbing J.K. Rowling by the shoulders and screaming “Come on, woman! If the Slytherins are so utterly evil, then why do the other witches and wizards allow them to live? They can’t all be unremittingly evil! They can’t all be cowardly, backstabbing creeps! They can’t all march in precise lockstep to whatever stupidly evil plan their leaders concoct! No group of people is that uniformly obnoxious in real life!”

But then I remembered: Oh yes, there is.

As upset as we may be with the way so many Democrats in Congress betrayed us last week with the FISA vote, we have to remember that their betrayal wouldn’t have been effective if it wasn’t for the lockstep partisanship — oh, forgive me, it’s “party unity” when they do it — of their Republican counterparts.

Oh, yes, the Republicans have a few “mavericks” like Specter and McCain and Hagel, a few “good Slytherins” that will occasionally say the right thing and even vote for something that they pretend is the right thing but really isn’t. But when it comes to doing the right thing, when it actually counts, they’re nowhere to be found — and they hate it when they’re forced into a situation where they must either vote for the right thing or reveal themselves to be lockstep followers of whatever foulnesses their party leadership dictate to them. (For the record: “Maverick” Hagel votes with the GOP party position nearly 80% of the time, Specter nearly 70% of the time, and McCain nearly 90% of the time. And yes, they all voted for S. 1927, the FISA bill. And remember, these guys are considered “mavericks”.)

Meanwhile, I don’t think the Democrats as a group could ever be accused of blindly following en masse in lockstep behind anyone. (Some people apparently see this as a fault, and see us in the netroots as fickle people who dump our party at the first vote we don’t like; most of us, not so much.)

This is not to say that we must be complacent about the Democrats. Oh, no, far from it: I am in whole-hearted agreement with Christy’s idea for the “You Work For Us Summer Tour“. (In fact, might I suggest that you use this list of Congressional phone and fax numbers compiled by a conservative group — nice of them to do the legwork for us, eh? — and fax Christy’s post to those Democrats that voted for the FISA deform?) But it’s worth pointing out that while a lot of the Democrats in office need their butts kicked, we’ve already done a good job in getting new and better ones in office — and are poised to do even better for next year. There’s a lot more hope for them than for the Slytherins — er, Republicans.

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