Secret Ballots For Us, Not You!
With the amount of money that the AFL-CIO, UAW, NEA and other unions poured into their campaign chests last cycle, it's at the top of the agenda.
The Wall Street Journal and LaborPains.org both point out the hypocrisy of Democrats when it comes to their own votes on committee chairs. Every committee will vote on their chairperson via a secret ballot, or already has.
Joe Lieberman retained his Homeland Security chairmanship after a secret ballot was taken by the committee to decide his fate. Henry Waxman wrested the top seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee from John Dingell; one of the longest serving chairman; on a secret ballot.
Why do they do this? Well, to protect themselves from flak both inside the capital, and outside. Lieberman has been a hated target of the Daily Kos/Huffington Post crowd for years, since he started getting vocal about the failings of his party and national security. Anyone on that committee that voted openly to retain a guy who supported John McCain over Barack Obama would get blasted by the far left blogging crowd.
Secondly, if Waxman or Lieberman knows for sure you voted against them that puts you pretty low on the ladder when it comes to ranking positions on their committees, and getting your legislation on the agenda. It also means they, who now hold some sway with the House at large can start usurping larger pet projects from you as payback.
One of the big jokes of this is that the guy who orchestrated Waxman's rise on the committee, as pointed out by the Journal; Rep. George Miller; is one of 10 Congressional Democrats to write a letter to Mexico a while back stating "We feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose."
Evidently that's only important in Mexico, not the US. I'm sure if Mexican unions were contributing to the DNC he'd recant on that letter in a heartbeat.