I have been extremely upset with the Blue Dog Democrats over healthcare reform and the energy and environment bill, and a half dozen other things. I’m not the only one. Progressives are absolutely furious, and rightly so, that in our hour, in our moment, in the one chance we’ve had in a generation to reverse some of the damage that has been done here over the last 30 years and to actually make some improvements… these bastards are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
I’m going to continue to complain and I’m going to continue to fight them. But I’ve decided that I’m also going to tolerate them and be, a little, glad that they are there.
What makes us so mad is that these Blue Dog Democrats aren’t Democrats at all! They used our brand name to get into office when the Republican brand was sure to lose, but they are Republicans anyway. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They trick us into thinking we have a super majority when, in fact, we still have the barest, slightest, smallest, thinnest majority we could possibly have, and we may not even have that.
The reason I will tolerate them is that when we climb above the healthcare debate, or the energy debate, or the global warming debate, or the abortion debate, or the economic debates, all of which we disagree on, they are sane. Today’s Republican party is not, and it is looking like it never will be again. The Republican Party has been captured by the old Dixiecrats and the Religious nuts and we now see very clearly that Republicans can only be elected if they are racists, bigots, fascists, or any of a dozen other intolerable -ists. This creates a problem for “moderate” Republicans… even those moderate Republicans who, in their day, were once considered conservative.
There is no way they can sign on with true Democrats. They just are not the tree-hugging, granola eating, community centric, fairness oriented, relatively compassionate people that we are. They want their guns. They want the death penalty. The really do want to always be the voice of caution when it comes to expanding government. Given the choice between us and the rabid fascists, there are a lot of Republicans holding their noses and, perhaps against their better judgement, signing on with the nuts because they just can’t come over and join us. Frankly, they need a new home, and they need a home that allows them to leave their unwashed, uneducated, fire-breathing, tea-bagging, brown-shirt breathren without admitting defeat and joining us.
America is in a cultural stalemate and has been for many generations now. We often think of the 60’s and then the Nixon era as the beginning of the culture wars, but remember that prohibition and repeal happened back at the beginning of the last century… and the civil war over slavery was 150 years ago. The culture wars, in fact, date back even to the Constitution and before as forces for religious oppression and religious freedom struggled to exert their will. No stalemate like this has ever ended in an unconditional surrender. This one won’t either. There needs to be a way for the sane, if ill-informed in our opinion, Republicans to save face while escaping the insanity that has become the Republican Party.
And frankly, the Blue Dogs are their future home.
The Blue Dogs are no more welcome in our midst as the three, now two, remaining moderate Republicans are welcome in their midst. The Blue Dogs are not Democrats and, frankly, the traditional Republicans are no longer Republicans. The meaning of being a Republican has changed too much.
The Blue Dogs will soon splinter away from us. They only used our name in the first place out of pragmatism. They never believed what we believe. They ran their campaigns by telling people that they were Democrats that weren’t Democrats. Anti-choice Democrats? What the hell kind of animal IS that anyway? If they splinter right now they lose everything. And… we may also. But if they can draw the historical Republicans into a “big tent” idea of a Democratic Party with the intent of forcing it to the right, they will gain the heft to be able to split away from us to become the new second party as the smouldering remains of the GOP become more and more marginalized.
Having the Blue Dog contingent available to pick up these castaways will be far, far, better than not having them there. Because the alternative is the increasingly radicalised conservative base ever more effectively calling the shots in the GOP party, with this uncomfortable middle giving them the votes and the heft to succeed, all the while wishing they had a better place to be. The alternative to the Blue Dogs, I’m afraid, is somewhere between The Inquisition and Nazi Germany. All things considered… I would rather not have this country go there.
So, grudgingly, I hereby support the Blue Dogs’ right to exist, even as I will fight them tooth and nail on policy, as I have done for a long time against Republicans, and as I will continue to do in the future against real Republicans after they have a brand new sparkly name and a lot of shell shocked, somewhat embarrassed, refugees from the scary right wing.