And Rep. Michael Arcuri, the first Democrat to represent this area in the House since 1983, has become one of Congress's most vulnerable Democrats, unpopular not only with conservatives but with many of the activists who helped him get elected. . . .
Like Democrats elected recently in similar districts, Arcuri has tried to please both his base and his crossover supporters. Shortly after taking office, he joined the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition. He voted in favor of the stimulus but against a "cap and trade" bill aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.Mr. Arcuri has been caught between a rock and a hard place. Had he voted upon his principles, he would have voted for the health-care bill . . . and against the wishes of most of his constituents. That would have put his position in jeopardy.
Then last month, he reversed course on the health-care bill, voting against it along with 33 of his Democratic colleagues after supporting it for months.
Now he has voted with his constituents, but against his principles, upsetting the activists who got out the vote for him in the first place. That puts his position in jeopardy.
"We certainly appreciate the hard work that activists do, but I represent a largely moderate district and voted the way the district and I thought was best," Arcuri said in an e-mail. On his Web site, he said he was concerned that insurance premiums would rise for families, seniors and small businesses.Mr. Arcuri's assessment of his situation is correct, of course. But being correct does not win elections. Being representative of the electorate does.
In this Internet age nothing goes unnoticed forever. People find out if their representative's views really match their own.
Why would anyone vote for a candidate who votes their way when watched, but who might act in a different way when not?
If Mr. Arcuri loses the next election, it will not be because he voted wrongly on any particular issue. It will be because his viewpoint -- his belief system -- no longer represents that of the majority of voters in his district.
Members of Congress are called "representatives" for a reason.