Blue Dog Democrats bite Democratic Party

This is a very serious reason why progressives never liked Rahm Emanuel, the President's Chief Of Staff. Emanuel likes to recruit DINO's (Democrats In Name Only) to run against Republicans. This strategy results in not giving voters much of a choice. They can take the real Republican supplied by the Republican Party or they can take one of Rahm's pseudo-Republicans. In the video on this blog post, Fox News (I don't blame Fox News in the slightest for re-running this Democratic ad as they're simply pointing out Emanuel's stupidity) runs the ad of a Democrat who positions himself as an independent by trashing both Republicans and Speaker Pelosi.

Not only is this a complete failure of Democratic Party messaging ("Our guy is smarter/more moral/better than the Democratic Speaker of the House") and not only does it severely weaken the Democratic brand as a whole, but it doesn't even result in Senators or Representatives who toe the party line when they're called upon to do so.

We can see in this table that some Democratic Congresspeople who voted against the Affordable Care Act in early November 2009 had good reason to do so. Democratic Representative Chet Edwards (TX-District 17) won his last election by only eight points, but McCain won that district by 35 points. Walt Minnick (ID-District 1) squeezed into office by one point, but McCain won his district by 26 percent. Others are less explicable. Larry Kissell (NC-District 8) won by a comfortable eight points and Obama won his district by five points. John Barrow (GA-District 12) won by 32 points and Obama by 11. Why aren't these people loyal to the Democratic Party platform? Why can't they put their votes with the party that put them into office? In all, there are 30 Democrats who won their races by over 10 points, but who nevertheless sided against the Democratic Party on a major issue.

Seven Democratic Senators and one Independent tossed up a temporary roadblock to the ACA, all of whom fall into the Blue Dog category. Eventually, all eight Senators voted for the bill, but:

The idea of a full-blown government-run insurance option, heatedly debated for months, would be jettisoned under the tentative agreement reached by Senate Democratic liberals and moderates and announced Tuesday night. In its place would be the expansion of Medicare, as well as new nationwide private plans to be run by the same agency that oversees the system that lawmakers use for themselves and their families.

As we now know, the Medicare buy-in plan was also jettisoned. It's really far from clear what the Democratic Party gains by getting Blue Dog Democrats into office. I mean, yeah great, they get to say that they're in the majority (Which does indeed have some worthwhile perks) and some bills get passed, but those bills get through the process all chopped and sliced and cut up.

Emanuel's strategy just looks to me like an extremely flawed strategy that includes some serious drawbacks. When Blue Dog Democrats win races, it's far from clear that the Democratic Party can really say that it's come out ahead. There's simply no assurance that the Democratic party has gained a reliably Democratic vote. And as we can see in the ad that was re-run by Fox News, neither is there any assurance that a Blue Dog Democrat won't disrespect the Democratic Party leadership in the process of ensuring their own political survival.

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