Blue Dog Democrats
Ari Berman of "The Nation” does an op-ed for the New York Times in which he pushes for the removal (or at least the non-support) of the blue dog Democrats such as Heath Schuler of NC.
Now that doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me – just as the Tea Party wants the less than conservative members of the Republican party replaced with more reliably fiscal conservative members.
That said, however, I loved the “reasoning” quoted for this desire:
Margaret Johnson, a former party chairwoman in Polk County, N.C., helped elect Representative Shuler but now believes the party would be better off without him. “I’d rather have a real Republican than a fake Democrat,” she said. “A real Republican motivates us to work. A fake Democrat de-motivates us.”
Well there you go – remember the left has been lambasting the right for who knows how long for not offering a “big tent” but essentially being a narrow based “all white male” party. Howard Dean and Rahm Emanuel concocted the 50 state strategy which recruited blue dogs like Schuler because they were “electable” in those districts and that strategy gave Democrats a “super majority”. But what real good did it do?
The argument is “wouldn’t you rather have someone that would vote with you 70% of the time rather than someone who will vote for your programs 0% of the time? The answer is “no”. Not if you actually want to get those things done which require critical votes and the 30% of the time they don’t vote with you is when those votes occur. Tea Partiers figured this out a while ago. And again, they’ve been lambasted for being so non-inclusive. Karl Rove, an inveterate seat counter, focuses solely on the number of “Republicans” in each chamber. Tea Partiers and conservatives focus on the ideology of those running and only support those who are, in Ms. Johnson’s words, “real Republicans” as the TP and conservatives define them.
It appears Democrats, lately of the “big tent”, are now looking toward a smaller tent. That would include the architect of the 50 state strategy, Howard Dean:
Ms. Johnson is right: Democrats would be in better shape, and would accomplish more, with a smaller and more ideologically cohesive caucus. It’s a sentiment that even Mr. Dean now echoes. “Having a big, open-tent Democratic Party is great, but not at the cost of getting nothing done,” he said.
Yeah … exactly what a number of us have been saying for years. Look, people throw the word “ideology” around like it is some sort of bad word. It’s not. It is your political philosophy, your principles, your belief in what politics should reflect.
Does anyone believe those that founded this country weren’t ideologically driven? That they didn’t have a definite set of principles that were foundation of what they created?
“Big tent” is a wonderfully nebulous and useless concept that implies that inclusiveness is more important than principles. It’s nonsense as both sides are discovering. You’re either for something, in terms of principles, or you’re not. “Including” others who don’t necessarily share your principles is simply an exercise in, well, seat counting, which as both the GOP and Democrats have finally discovered, is a waste of time.
The Congress described as the “most ethical and open Congress” in history by its Speaker is busy writing massive and costly health care legislation in secret. Even Democrats aren’t happy about this process:
Forty-five House Democrats in the party’s moderate-to-conservative wing have protested the secretive process by which party leaders in their chamber are developing legislation to remake the health care system.
The lawmakers, members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, said they were “increasingly troubled” by their exclusion from the bill-writing process.
They expressed their concerns in a letter delivered Monday to three House committee chairmen writing the bill, which House leaders hope to pass this summer.
Representative Mike Ross, an Arkansas Democrat who is chairman of the coalition’s health task force, said: “We don’t need a select group of members of Congress or staff members writing this legislation. We don’t want a briefing on the bill after it’s written. We want to help write it.”
Of course the Blue Dogs are Democrats elected in mostly conservative districts and thus hold seats which have traditionally been Republican. Meanwhile the chairmen of the three committees in question all hold safe Democratic seats.
The committee chairmen writing the House bill are Representatives Henry A. Waxman and George Miller, both of California, and Charles B. Rangel of New York.
Asked about the letter, Karen Lightfoot, a spokeswoman for Mr. Waxman, said he had met with some members of the Blue Dog Coalition and welcomed their suggestions. When she was asked why, then, they were complaining, she said, “That’s more of a question for the Blue Dogs than for us.”
Very similar to the Obama outreach to Republicans on the budget and stimulus. He ‘welcomed their suggestions’, but they certainly had no chair at the table when the legislation was formulated.
Your future health care is being decided behind closed doors by the liberal wing of the Democratic party. Apparently input from the “center” and right are not welcome. I’m not surprised in the least, but I’m sure there are some out there that are.
[HT: Mary R]