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I've noticed a strain of defeatism around these parts recently.  It's not just the neoliberalism and "just like Bush" diaries on the president, which are perhaps understandable if not terribly productive.  We're also seeing diaries like this one that suggest that the decline of the Blue Dog caucus is not a good thing, because it indicates a shrinking of the Big Tent of the Democratic Party.  It would be one thing if we had organizations at the fringe of the party pushing them out, but that's not how we do politics.

Proof that real live voters are, like us, working for more and better democrats below:

"We're Not Like That" is NOT a good reason to bemoan the fact that Democratic voters went to the polls in two districts in Pennsylvania and got rid of two members of the Blue Dog caucus.  If you remember, the only difference between Jason Altmire and Mark Kritz is that Altmire had gone SO far over to the dark side of politically-motivated centrism that Kritz was able to run as the labor-supported candidate.

And, indeed, we really AREN'T like that.  The voters in these districts weren't being driven by a Club for Growth campaign (like the one Dick Lugar is facing in Indiana) and none of the candidates signed one of Grover Norquist's pledges.  Our voters went to the polls and voted for candidates whose positions they preferred. Pure and simple.  Who was and wasn't happy?  The political punditocracy.

Not the actual news reporters in the field.  Here, for example, is the Scranton Times-Tribune on the reasons Matt Cartwright beat Tim Holden:

In the campaign, Mr. Cartwright, of the Scranton law firm Munley, Munley & Cartwright portrayed himself as more liberal than the congressman, a Blue Dog Democrat.

Mr. Holden, who was elected in 1992, had previously won five times in his old, conservative leaning district. This time, he was running for the first time in a decade in a majority Democratic district.

And it showed.

In Lackawanna County, Mr. Cartwright captured 17,600 votes, 77.9 percent, to Mr. Holden's 5,006 votes, according to unofficial results posted on the state Department of State web site at 11:15 p.m.

The new district's boundaries are roughly 80 percent different because of redistricting.

Should Mr, Cartwright not have run?  Of course not.  Blue Dog the reason?  Well, maybe, but consider the bolded portion of the quotation above.

And the Critz-Altmire race?  Here's what the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had to say:

Mr. Critz's win had an old-time Democratic feel, with its reliance on labor and seniors issues, and a heavy dose of the late John Murtha, whom Mr. Critz replaced in a 2010 special election after his former boss died. If he had lost to Mr. Altmire, Johnstown would have been assured of being without its own congressman for the first time in four decades.
Mr. Critz and Mr. Altmire had conservative voting records for Democrats so they had to search for new ways to differentiate themselves. The late stages of the campaign were dominated by Critz charges that an Altmire vote in favor of a Republican-backed balanced budget amendment and against a Democratic attempt to embarrass the GOP over an ultra-conservative budget would hurt funding for Social Security and Medicare.
I can't see how the big tent shrunk even one inch in this race.  The litmus test?  LABOR.  Isn't a candidate who supports the labor movement a better democrat than one who doesn't?

So who did this upset?  The Wall Street Journal, whose editorial, "The Shrinking Blue Dogs" began with this comment:

Rahm Emanuel is now mayor of Chicago, and the last vestiges of the strategy he used to help Democrats capture the House of Representatives vanished on Tuesday.
Paul Gigot, behind a paywall, but if that isn't a money quote I don't know what is.

Enough.  We're still a big tent, and the Progressive movement hasn't lost its soul.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (13+ / 0-)

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 07:21:05 AM PDT

  •  Excellent post. (5+ / 0-)

    I'm from the Elizabeth Warren and Darcy Burner Wing of the Democratic Party!

    by TomP on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 07:34:45 AM PDT

  •  perfect (4+ / 0-)
    Our voters went to the polls and voted for candidates whose positions they preferred. Pure and simple.  Who was and wasn't happy?  The political punditocracy.
    The quest is not to convert the inconvertible to good policy, it's to get more informed voters to the polls.

    "Lets show the rascals what Citizens United really means."

    by smiley7 on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 07:38:23 AM PDT

  •  Conversely, there is no Liberal caucus in the GOP (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Why, because they gave up the good cop bad cop strategy along time ago.
    Also known as the rotating villain theory.

    Dems, can't let it go.

    "Some people" will say,  "Well do you want majorities or not"
    To which I say well these traitors JOIN GOP filibusters and we lose anyways (see Casey, Landriue, Nelson, Lieberman).

    And it weakens the party more.

    I would rather lose a race, then be a loser.

    Also, since the 2008 primaries gave us the illusion that it was a war between the base of the party and the corporatists/lobbyists/bluedogs, I honestly was naive enough that Obama and Rahm would get them into line.
    But senators and congressmen on our side helped the GOP weaken the HCR bill, and kill any idea of Climate Change or Campaign Finance reform.

    And let me add one more bit before I head to my 11 am meeting.


    I understood when Rahm was there, Rahm hated Dean for making him look like a fool in 2006.
    But Mr Obama owes Dean and the grass roots that paved the way for his election.
    I guess we are not needed this year.

    •  I was a Deniac before I was anything (2+ / 0-)

      You have a point.

      Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

      by Shockwave on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 07:52:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And whats even crazier is that I beleive Dean (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        supports the HCR as it was passed.

        I remember Rachel and plenty of talking heads who convinced us the only reason the GOP united vote for vote against it was they thought it would be a political windfall for Democrats for decades  (this was before the public option was abandoned).

        The Repubs are already attacking Obama on healthcare, and as far as slogans,  Bin Laden Dead, GM Alive is it.

        I said this in another post, by campaigning HARD on the HCR bill, the bully pulpit and public sentiment could rebut those ads, and deligitmize the Alito Supreme Court.

  •  If they vote Republican, how is it they're (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge

    In the 'Big Tent,' anyway? Aren't they functioning to take the tent down in oh so many cases?

    I have only met one of them in recent years, outgoing NC-11 rep, Heath Shuler. He wasn't a leader in his district, he was a follower, so intimidated or otherwise influenced by his district's conservative reputation that he was never going to stand up for Democrats to begin with. I think the only reason he embraced a 'Democrat' label was to be sure to pull all the straight ticket votes. There were very few times he really helped Democrats, or even the less fortunate citizens in his district, regardless of party affiliation.

    I don't see how his in-name-only Democratic affiliation made the tent bigger. As bet I could tell, he only voted with Democrats when the issues were so slam-dunk, his vote wasn't really needed. I will not miss him, or any of the other blue dogs.

    "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's CREATION." _ Jonathan Larson, RENT

    by BeninSC on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 07:52:02 AM PDT

    •  Crucial point, Ben (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Not a "better" Democrat, clearly. I won't miss any of them either, and I hope the members of the caucus in California (who vote with the party over 90% of the time anyway) realize they don't need to be members any more.

      -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

      by Dave in Northridge on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 07:59:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Blue Dogs enable Republicans And Democrats (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Obviously Blue Dogs enable Republicans to block or pass bills.  But they also enable the faux progressives to hide.  They get to make their pretend progressive votes and then write whining "we don't have the votes, send money because I pretended to represent you" e-mails to us poor dupes back home.

  •  I think the point of caldreaming's article (0+ / 0-)

    last night just flew over everyone's head. If you go back to the Peter Wehner article that he cited, it's not about who has a majority in Congress, and the effect that Blue Dogs and Tea Party Republicans have. The point had to do with policy, and "confirmation" bias, and the reluctance that people have to honestly consider opinions that differ from their own, and the preference they have for always surrounding themselves only with people who they agree with.

    I think caldreaming's point was that without the Blue Dogs, the Democratic Party will be weaker in that people won't be able to test progressive ideas through longstanding institutional relationships with people who disagree with them.

  •  In NM there is Eric Griego (0+ / 0-)

    Albuquerque is the large city in NM's CD 1.  The seat was vacated by Martin Heinrich who is running for US Senate.

    Griego is an energetic, articulate and feisty state senator who has a long resume, which includes working as an economist in Robert Reich's Labor Dept. in the Clinton Administration.

    Like Reich, he is very clear headed about what is going on and is therefore not likely to go easy on Wall Street greed.  He has a great grasp of budgeting and would be a great advocate for the Progressive Caucus in Congress, which is why Raul Grijalva endorsed him.

    The situation we have been seeing in Washington inspired Griego to run for the seat.  He started out as an underdog, but has put together a team that works very hard and knows what they are doing.  Now he is considered the front runner.  

    If at all possible, contribute!  Otherwise, put Griego on your radar screen.  He will be one to watch.  He is likely to become a leader in Congress in a few years.  

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 10:04:55 AM PDT

  •  As I recall, Altmire and Holden (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge

    both voted against Health Care Reform. That's more mad dog than blue dog. There are blue dogs we should support and there are districts where they are the most liberal candidates who are electable, but they need to be there on truly historic votes like Health Care Reform.

    •  That makes sense (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There are also people in the Blue Dog caucus from California who vote with the party over 90% of the time, like Adam Schiff, and I figure you're talking about Leonard Boswell who falls into the same category.  I think they're really Blue Dogs by convenience, and that if there were no Blue Dog caucus, they wouldn't create one.

      -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

      by Dave in Northridge on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 01:57:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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