Using The Party As A Fire Hydrant
Howie compiled some interesting stats about the Blue Dogs who ran against the Democratic party and specifically Nancy Pelosi:
Let's revisit the post from yesterday about the Blue Dogs and other conservatives who threw Pelosi-- and the Democratic brand-- under the bus to try to save their own asses. The question was, "did it help any of them?" Well, every single challenger who came out with idiotic statements like, "I'll support Allen Boyd for Speaker" (grotesquely corrupt Alabama lobbyist Steve Raby), was defeated. The three most aggressively anti-Pelosi Blue Dogs, Bobby Bright (AL), Jim Marshall (GA) and Gene Taylor (MS), were defeated. Blue Dogs Mike McIntyre (NC) and Jason Altmire (PA) managed to survive the slaughter. More than half the Blue Dogs were defeated or retired. Only 47% of them, a number which will go down when Jim Costa's (CA-20) likely loss is announced later today) were reelected. Contrast that to the 95% of the Congressional Progressive Caucus members who were reelected.In 1994, there were a slew of conservative Democrats who jumped the fence, even some like Ben Nighthorse Campbell who had just been elected for the first time as Democrats. It will be interesting to see if any of them do it this time.
And among the Democratic incumbents who wanted it both ways and said they might vote against Pelosi, losers included Walt Minnick (Blue Dog-ID), Bill Foster (IL), Baron Hill (Blue Dog-IN), Frank Kratovil (Blue Dog-MD), Travis Childers (Blue Dog-MS), Ike Skelton (MO), Mike McMahon (NY), Scott Murphy (NY), Zack Space (Blue Dog-OH), Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (Blue Dog-SD), and Chet Edwards (TX). Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT), Mark Critz (PA), Pete DeFazio (OR), Heath Shuler (Blue Dog-NC), Joe Donnelly (Blue Dog-IN), John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA) and Mike Ross (Blue Dog-AR) managed to hang on, barely. It certainly wouldn't surprise me to see some of this lot, plus Dan Boren, jump the fence and become Republicans soon. Can't happen soon enough.
What Howie says about Pelosi is pertinent. I think when you run against your own party in this age of polarization you are begging the electorate to vote for your opponent. We aren't in an age of ticket splitting and the parties are breaking pretty clearly along ideological lines (even if the Democrats haven't figured that out yet.) They do have the money chase in common, but the next few years are going to see a split there as well, with one party coming up with a convincing rationale for why they are a party of whores and the other one being forced by the structural nature of parliamentary politics to take the other side. (I'm not entirely convinced at this moment that it will break the way we might assume.) In any case, if you don't clearly identify with the party to which you ostensibly belong, people will figure there must be something shifty about you. When you see the two national parties in pitched battle all the time, you are right to wonder why in the world you should continue to support someone who can't --- even if they wanted to --- adequately represent your interests.
This new era is going to require more partisan cohesion to get anything done and to stop the things the Party doesn't want done. This seems like a good thing to me. Fewer Blue Dogs means fewer saboteurs within the party creating the illusion that there is a progressive governing majority. And that means that if the Republicans want to pass their destructive agenda, they will have to take sole responsibility for it instead of passing it under the rubric of bipartisanship --- or worse as Democratic policies --- and then blaming the Democrats when their policies don't work. Responsibility/accountability are much clearer when the parties are philosophically distinct.