Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Blue Dogs And New Dems Are Still Working To Undermine and Take Over The Democratic Party


Money-grubbing Long Island Blue Dog

When Boehner and McCarthy boast how their extreme right agenda gets bipartisan support, they're talking about a gaggle of reactionary Democrats who for one reason or another vote with the GOP-- primarily Blue Dogs and New Dems. Last week, for example, the House voted 242-184 to further restrict women's right to reproductive Choice. Boehner was crowing how it was a bipartisan vote; it wasn't really. 4 Republicans voted with the Democrats and 4 Democrats voted with the Republicans. Of the 4 Democrats, one, Jim Langevin (RI), is a deranged religious fanatic and the other 3-- Henry Cuellar, Collin Peterson and Dan Lipinski-- are hard-core right-wing Blue Dogs who vote far more frequently for conservative initiatives than for progressive ones.

The real tragedy is that with "former" Blue Dog and New Dem leaders, respectively Steve Israel and Joe Crowley, rising in the ranks of House Democratic leadership, more and more conservatives and fewer and fewer progressives are being recruited by the DCCC. So far this cycle Blue America has endorsed 8 progressives for House seats. The DCCC hasn't lifted a finger in any of those districts. They don't want progressives or independent-minded legislators. They want hackish followers who won't make Wall Street banksters nervous.

And both Blue Dogs and New Dems insist they're just trying to save the Democratic Party from itself-- by acting more like Republicans.
Blue Dogs knew from the beginning they were doing something their leadership probably wouldn’t appreciate.

Rep. Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota, a founding member who’s also the longtime top Democrat on the Agriculture Committee, said the group started meeting secretly in 1994.

“We could see the party was gonna drive us into a ditch,” Peterson recalled.

Fiercely protective of its ideological purity and committed to preserving trust within the ranks, the Blue Dogs enforced a strict quota for membership and specific guidelines for admittance, even after going public in 1995.

Members were predominantly from the South-- so much so that aspiring Blue Dogs from elsewhere seemed circumspect.

“It was the Southerners, they thought anybody from Minnesota had to be a raving liberal. I had a couple buddies who helped get me in,” Peterson said. “The way the rules worked, people were invited one at a time. But any member could blackball you.”

Fifteen years later, Schrader faced similar skepticism. The Oregonian applied for membership in 2010, at the plateau of Blue Dog prominence, and struggled to make his case at a time when, according to rules, the group couldn’t exceed a quarter of the caucus.

Schrader said he finally earned a spot when he revealed his nickname as Budget chairman in the Oregon Legislature: “Darth Schrader.”

In 1995, the Blue Dogs started with 23 members and quickly established themselves as players, putting forth welfare overhaul legislation and a budget resolution that won plaudits from Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, D-Mo.

In 2006, Democrats won back the House; two years later, President Barack Obama won by a landslide. Democrats felt invincible, and in early 2010, Blue Dog membership topped 50-- a formidable bloc. Members were courted heavily to shore up votes for then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s big-ticket items, most significantly the Affordable Care Act.

That support would prove costly: In 2010, 26 Blue Dogs lost seats as Republicans reclaimed the House.

“We thought we were all about the right message, we had a mandate, the Republicans are gonna be irrelevant again,” Schrader said. “Only to find out the vote [that put Democrats back in power] was mostly against George [W.] Bush, not for Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi.”

Every Democrat was demoralized after 2010, but Blue Dogs were incensed.

Along with other moderates in the caucus, remaining coalition members led a revolt. Forty-three Democrats voted against Pelosi for leader in a closed-door meeting that fall; the following January, 19 Democrats voted for someone other than the progressive California lawmaker, many for Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C.

After the unsuccessful insurrection, the coalition’s clout faded. Between 2010 and 2014, the Blue Dog ranks slimmed further as members retired. By 2013, membership had dropped below 20.

With smaller numbers, they endured greater criticism from progressives for frequently voting with Republicans.

“My biggest frustration … was pure lack of understanding and appreciation for what it’s like to run as a Democrat in some of these districts,” said Jennifer Walsh, now the director of public affairs at Foley and Lardner who was a longtime chief of staff for Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif., a Blue Dog who retired in 2012.

In the last Congress, Blue Dogs stopped paying dues to fund a designated staff member and relaxed the application process. That attracted new members such as then-Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, D-W.Va., who faced a tough re-election bid.

“He really joined … I think for political reasons,” recalled Blue Dog Co-Chairman Jim Costa, D-Calif. “But after six months, he saw he had more in common here. I don’t know if he expected it, but he truly enjoyed it.”

Rahall lost anyway, as did a Blue Dog stalwart, Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga.

“The last white Southern Blue Dog,” said Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., another current co-chairman. “It means the Democratic Party has a lot of work today in the South to reclaim our traditional territory.”

One criticism of House Democratic leadership after last year’s losses was a lack of self-reflection about what went wrong. But if anything was a warning sign for the party, Blue Dogs and moderates say it was Barrow’s defeat.

“When Democrats do well and pick up seats it’s because they’re winning in these moderate, Blue Dog districts,” said Walsh, who still has connections with the group across town. “When we lose seats, it’s because they’re losing in those moderate Blue Dog districts. You can trace the size of the caucus with the size of the coalition.”

Schrader said there’s growing recognition that Blue Dogs need to have a greater presence in campaigns.

“We’re recruiting some candidates, we’ve gone out of our way … to reach out to the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee], play a role a little bit in the recruitment, and play a little role-- I don’t think they’re paying attention, to be dead honest-- in the messaging,” said Schrader, though a Blue Dog member.
The two freshmen who vote with the GOP most frequently are Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE) and Gwen Graham (Blue Dog-FL). Each has an abysmal 22.86 ProgressivePunch score this session, worse than the records of several Republicans. And yet the DCCC is gearing up to spend over a million dollars on each of these worthless Members to help save their seats, despite all their votes for Boehner's agenda. Here are the 10 "Democrats" who have been with the GOP the most this session on the crucial roll calls:
Gwen Graham (Blue Dog-FL)- 22.86
Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE)- 22.86
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)- 25.71
Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)- 31.43
Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY)- 31.43
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)- 35.29
Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL)- 39.39
Dan Lipinski (Blue Dog-IL)- 42.86
Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL)- 42.86
Rubén Hinojosa (TX)- 45.0
Contribute to the DCCC and most of that money will go to Blue Dogs and New Dems who have nearly as little in common with you politically as the Republicans do. The main Blue America page is for House candidates. There are no Blue Dogs and no New Dems on that page. And there never will be.

Florida DINOs Gwen Graham and Patrick Murphy

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At 5:04 AM, Blogger ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

They took over the Democratic party under Bill Clinton. Under Obama, that control has only gotten stronger.


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