The Democrats have their mandate.
And so does the party's most important base--America's plaintiff's lawyers.
According to OpenSecrets.org, Democrats running for federal office received $136 million from lawyers this election cycle, more than from any other sector of our economy. Notably, the total is nearly three times as much as received from trade unions, which purport to represent those working men and women who once served as the party's financial backbone.
No more. The party of America's workers is being heavily financed by a well-heeled pack of America's suers.
You wouldn't have guessed it from their campaign rallies this season. Lawyers weren't the ones standing front-and-center on stage with President-Elect Barack Obama, or marching arm-in-arm with the party's legion of successful U.S. House and Senate candidates.
The party's talking points didn't include pleas to fulfill the hopes and dreams of America's class action and asbestos lawyers; no calls were heard for measures to make it easier to sue, or to put curbs on frivolous lawsuits.
That's because the Democrats know these ideas are anathema to most Americans who don't see themselves as a nation of potential victims, waiting for an opportunity to capitalize on some genuine or feigned calamity.
Most Americans certainly don't believe it's a national priority to encourage more lawsuits.
But there's a legion of lawyers who do. And now more than ever, it's their dollars fueling the Democrat machine. So when the trial bar's money talks in the coming months--and it will-- expect that it will be in politically hushed tones. No need to alert the electorate to the inevitable expectation of a gross political payback.
On the trial bar's wish list for this upcoming Congress: killing arbitration as an alternative to litigation and passing laws that make it easier to sue in state court.
In the long term, however, they'll do their best lobbying to keep the gravy trains on track. Rather than reform class action and asbestos lawsuit abuses that wrongly bloats some lawyers' wealth, they'll fight to preserve the status quo. No news will be good news--a rich return on investment for a once genteel profession that's turned part of itself into a money-soaked growth "industry." Lawyer put down jokes don't arise from a vacuum.
We'll see two years from now whether America will wish it had been more careful with the ballot.