Fourteen years ago, the Blue Dog Democrats formed, hoping to take ride on the coattails of Newt Gingrich’s takeover of Congress, collaborating with the Republicans in order to keep on bringing pork barrel spending back home to their districts in spite of being part of the Democratic minority. Ever since then, this coalition has sought to weaken the Democratic Party from within, by pursuing the Republican right wing agenda under the name of the Democrats.
This year, the Blue Dog Democrats have been up to their old tricks. They’ve worked to weaken climate change legislation. They’ve corrupted health care reform legislation too, and slowed its progress so that Republicans would have the summer to pick it to pieces with their ranting and raving about death panels and socialism.
However, there are signs that the Blue Dog game of crass opportunism may be about to run its course. For years, the Blue Dogs have made the safe assumption that progressive Democrats would never mount any opposition to them, because they’d be afraid to endanger the effort to obtain and maintain a Democratic majority in Congress and control over the White House. Since the election of Barack Obama, however, it’s become clear to progressive Democrats that Blue Dogs are as much of a problem as the Republicans, and that a Democratic majority can’t accomplish a progressive agenda as long as the Blue Dogs are on the job.
So, the term Blue Dog, which once shone as a beacon to corrupt politicians that they could have their cake and eat it too, is now becoming a liability. Progressive Democrats are finally catching on that they need to go after the parasitic Blue Dogs, and can turn a Blue Dog affiliation into political poison. That’s why, a year and a half before the 2010 congressional elections, progressives are beginning to see messages like the ones you see here – a bumper sticker against Congressman John Tanner and a campaign button against Jim Cooper – from a progressive perspective, criticizing them for their Blue Dog right wing political activity.