Goodbye Blue Dogs?

Campbell Robertson of the New York Times, reporting on the intense fear Blue Dogs have about being Democrats these days, writes:

In the deep-red states of the South, it is very hard these days to be a Blue Dog, as members of the group of 52 centrist House Democrats are known. Suspicions about the Obama administration’s expansive view of government power have made the Democratic label so toxic in some parts of the South that merely voting like a Republican — as many Blue Dogs do — may no longer be enough.

First, Blue Dogs are conservative Democrats, not centrist Democrats.

Second, the problem described here can’t be one of Blue Dogs suddenly finding the Democratic brand toxic. After all, the whole motus operandi of the Blue Dogs, as described by Robertson, is that they vote like Republicans and then tell their constituents about it. That is, they convince their constituents that when they vote for a Blue Dog, they are getting a Republican with the power of a member of the Democratic majority. Conversely, Parker Griffith, a Blue Dog who jumped ship to the GOP last month will now have to try to get through a GOP primary that he isn’t likely to do well in.

“Bright and Parker won, despite the poor showing of Obama, because they are conservative and therefore not open to attack from Republicans on social issues like abortion, prayer, guns and taxes,” John Anzalone, a Montgomery-based Democratic pollster, wrote in an e-mail message.

Mr. Anzalone argued that Mr. Griffith’s calculation was likely to end up hurting him, since he now has to face a Republican primary, while Mr. Bright’s conservative record could potentially expand his base.

Blue Dogs get a great deal by being part of a large majority, with a large enough bloc of coherently unified conservative ideologues who frequently bring the Democratic Party to its knees. They get millions of dollars of cash from the DCCC to support their re-elections. And they get this backing from the party, often in districts where if they ran as Republicans they would likely face strong primary opponents. Why would these Blue Dogs be ready to jump ship from the Love Boat the Democratic Party has them sailing on?

I’m sure there will be at least another Blue Dog or two who either bolts the party or decides not to run for re-election. That’s all well and good, in my book. But it’s silly to think that this band of conservaDems who have masterfully gotten everything they want from a more-liberal national party are so politically inept as to think they are going to start bolting en masse to become GOP back benchers.

Stories like this by Robertson really just promote the narrative of Democrats in disarray. As I’ve tried to lay out here, I don’t think that is the case, even if it is a common meme pushed by Republican operatives and DC insiders.

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