The Midterms, Blue Dogs and Values
November 4, 2010
There’s an interesting article on Huffington Post about the fate of the many “Blue Dogs” – the conservative faction of the Democrats mostly in the Southern States – who have been “smashed” in the mid terms.
… one group hit especially hard was the Blue Dog Coalition, with half of its members losing their seats.
The Blue Dogs, a coalition of moderate to conservative Democrats in the House, have consistently frustrated their more progressive colleagues and activists within the party, especially during the health care debate. Blue Dog members pushed to limit the scope and the cost of the legislation and resisted some of the mandates of the bill. Last summer, seven of the eight Blue Dogs on the House Energy and Commerce Committee even threatened to block health care reform unless it met their cost requirements.
Other areas where Blue Dogs have helped put the brakes on ambitious progressive priorities are global warming measures and legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize.
This contrasts to Harry Reid, one of the main Republican targets in the mid terms – who is a notorious liberal hated by the conservatives as Obama’s “partner” in crime:
Republicans said for months that if the Nevada Senate race was a referendum on Harry Reid, the unpopular Majority Leader would lose. Reid didn’t let that happen. He adeptly painted opponent Sharron Angle as an extremist immediately after she won her primary – and proceeded to make the contest as much about her awkward and unconventional statements as Reid’s own troubles.
Then he deployed his secret weapon: a powerful turnout machine that brought Democratic and Hispanic voters out to the polls in droves.
I can’t comment on the campaign machines of the Blue Dogs. However, it is clear to me that voters in the “Blue Dog” states, when given the opportunity to vote for a real Republican or a fake “Republocrat”, seem to have by and large chosen the real Republican.
Similarly, in California where Republican big business candidates Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman (who spent millions of their own fortunes to get elected) lost to “liberals” Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown. While the commentary points to the flaws of the Republican candidates (Fiorina too right-wing, Whitman too inexperienced), the fact is that both Boxer and Brown (Senate and Governor candidates) ran a straight campaign based on solid progressive Democrat values.
This demonstrates in my view why it’s important for progressive parties to resist the calls to drift to the right. We saw in the UK that after a decade of Blairism, the electorate preferred real Conservatives to the Tory-lite New Labour. Similarly, when Democrats campaigned on progressive values and policies, and made a principled stand, they are rewarded by voters.