Are the Blue Dogs headed the way of Free Silver ?
Only two years ago, 54 Blue Dogs together formed one of the most powerful packs on Capitol Hill. They forced the inclusion of “pay as you go” rules in President Obama’s economic stimulus plan (not that it did much good, as very little has been paid for while the budget deficit has gone north of $1 trillion a year), and their opposition doomed liberal Democrats’ dreams of building health care reform around a single government payer.
The Blue Dogs are the proud, if beleaguered, holdouts in the center of U.S. politics – and their plight illustrates the big problem with holding the middle ground in a conflict. You are exposed to the crossfire, threatened by both sides.
This is precisely what decimated the Blue Dogs in the 2010 elections. While none lost a primary challenge that year (unlike this week’s unfortunate Pennsylvanians), a half-dozen Blue Dogs chose to retire or to run, unsuccessfully as it turned out, for other offices. Another 23 were defeated by Republicans in the general election, generally hurt by voter concern over Washington spending and over-reach, and particularly by a backlash against the health care law in conservative parts of the country. When the current Congress took office, the Blue Dog population had been cut in half. Next year, their numbers may be halved again.