Who's Fighting For You? Who Are You Fighting For?

A Dem winning an election is better than the Republican winning almost every time. But among Dems, who is it more important to see win? The fighting progressive or the craven Blue Dog? This is a theme regular readers will have read before from me, but, via Digby, Howie Klein seems to make a similar argument, but gets it a little wrong in my view. Howie writes:

With very few exceptions, the Democrats in the most vulnerable positions are conservatives who have voted most consistently with Boehner and the untrusted GOP minority, Blue Dogs like Bobby Bright (AL), Glenn Nye (VA), Chris Carney (PA), Travis Childers (MS) and Frank Kratovil (MD) and inherently reactionary political cowards with no moral compasses like Tom Perriello (VA), Suzanne Kosmas (FL) and Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ). If Democrats can manage to hang onto the few progressives who refused to play the Republican lite game who are in jeopardy in swing districts-- Carol Shea-Porter (NH), Alan Grayson (FL), Mary Jo Kilroy (OH), Phil Hare (IL)-- and at the same time, manage to shed some of the dead weight, the House Democratic caucus will be far better off, far more focused on helping ordinary American families and far less susceptible to blackmail from corporate conservatives in its own midst.

The problem is not the dead weight imo. The problem is CATERING to the dead weight. (I wrote about that a few years ago.) That said, for progressives, the fight should be for the one who fought for you. That ain't the Blue Dogs.

Speaking for me only

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    Yes! (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by ruffian on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 03:58:51 PM EST
    The problem is CATERING to the dead weight

    Let them go along their merry way voting against the party when it doesn't matter. But stop trying to win them over. Their very existence depends on them not being won over.

    Hear, hear (none / 0) (#2)
    by andgarden on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 04:11:07 PM EST
    Although, I don't hold it against the party committees for spending to protect, e.g., Bobby Bright. Their sole job is to protect Democratic incumbents and keep the party in the majority.

    Arguably, the real blame lies with Democratic primary voters, who are too unwilling to reject ideologically unacceptable Democrats. We need a few more highly-publicized Blue Dog primary executions.

    I mostly second (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by christinep on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 04:51:06 PM EST
    But, one clarification, please.... It just occurred to me that there must be an obvious cut-off in terms of Democratic voting patterns. E.g., using the names mentioned in the commentary by H. Klein cited above, what are the voting percentages of these Blue Dogs? Do they vote with the majority more or less than 80%? 75%? 70% or 60% or ?  While, of course, there cannot be real "bright lines" (because it could well be argued that some votes are so much more important than others), maybe the "fail rate" (or some other apt descriptor) would be at 70% or other cut-offs that we are all familiar with.  

    It has been a long while since I've looked at percentage correlation with individual voting members and their party.  Given the perceived track record of some of the Blue Dogs, it may well be worth researching...as a component of future common ground. Simply put, what should the expectations about correlation be?


    That would be an incorrect argument (none / 0) (#4)
    by sj on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 04:59:31 PM EST
    Arguably, the real blame lies with Democratic primary voters who are too unwilling to reject ideologically unacceptable Democrats

    You yourself have spoken rather dismissively about primaries where a kind of long-shot liberal -- or even semi-liberal -- candidate is challenging a Dem with party support.  But you're not the only one by any means.  

    How often in the last few years you have heard the condescending "that candidate can't win statewide" pre-judgement?  Regular commenters on this blog go there.  Also to the equivalent of the "not a dime's worth of difference" pre-judgement.  That judgement was made on a national level as well as in my home state of Colorado in several races that were important to me.

    I would rephrase your conclusion this way:

    Arguably, the real blame lies with Democratic party leadership, which is only willing to support already well-funded Democrats.

    But I agree with this: "We need a few more highly-publicized Blue Dog primary executions."


    Yes, I prejudge, as we all must (none / 0) (#5)
    by andgarden on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 05:16:04 PM EST
    I don't as a general rule support unelectable candidates. And that includes statewide candidates who have not shown an ability to raise millions of dollars. I can't stress enough how much fundraising matters. I would prefer that we have a different system, but that's not the reality.

    I am selective about the kinds of primary challenges I support. Mostly it would have to be a situation where the incumbent is in a safe seat but has a right wing voting record. Dan Lipinski is one who comes to mind. Candidates with no money, minimal support, and whiny arguments about how they have a Real Chance and deserve to win will get no support from me.

    As far as Colorado was concerned: Romanoff was underfunded and indistinguishable on the issues.


    Well there you go (none / 0) (#8)
    by sj on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 05:26:31 PM EST
    I apologize.  I didn't you realize you were referring to yourself when you were talking about primary voters.

    But don't stop with Romanoff.  That's not even a year ago.  And my memory goes back much, much farther.  I used to be a Democratic activist of many years standing.


    Well, it's surely the case that (none / 0) (#9)
    by andgarden on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 05:40:01 PM EST
    my political judgement is imperfect. But when, e.g., Democratic primary voters sent Dan Lipinski back to Congress in 2008 and thereafter, they were acting stupidly.

    I have mixed (none / 0) (#6)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 05:23:00 PM EST
    feelings about this living in GA. Here you are only going to get a blue dog but you certainly can argue that maybe it's worthwhile to get rid of Blue Dogs.

    The choice is sorry here that you have someone who probably agrees with you 10% of the time vs. 0%.


    Oh, I'm with you (none / 0) (#7)
    by andgarden on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 05:25:56 PM EST
    You have to be smart about where you run a primary.

    I agree with you, andgarden... (none / 0) (#10)
    by christinep on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 05:58:20 PM EST
    yet, is there any or can there be any objectivity in a "who to primary" situation...in futuro. The past is the past; but, what about future directions?

    I mentioned above the possibility of looking at member/party voting correlations, with the implied notion that maybe there could be a holding-together general consensus based on some understanding of a "bright line."  Since we are not a European-style parliamentary democracy and since we bill ourselves (Democrats) as a big tent party open to a number of interests....  Nonetheless, there should be some semi-objective way of approaching this as a party? I know it is easier as a portion of the party or as a smaller interest group...but then, that plays against the reality of a big tent.  Actually, I am serious about this--not just throwing a wedgie--because it says a lot about future party cohestions & directions.


    Here's a good way to approach it IMO (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by andgarden on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 06:04:15 PM EST
    1. Is the candidate in a safe district (i.e., did the Democratic candidate for President win by at least 10 points in the last 2-3 elections)? This can be a complicated question to answer, but it's usually not too hard. If so, proceed to question two.

    2. Is the Democratic incumbent clearly and consistently out of step with the Democratic mainstream? The Safer the district, the more demanding you should be of the incumbent (e.g., Al Wynn would have been fine in a more marginal district). If so, then you would be well-advised to seek out and support a primary challenger.

    I'd have less trouble with this (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by oldpro on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 10:49:53 PM EST
    if I knew what now constitutes "the Democratic mainstream."  I confess I do not recognize it.

    Here's what it would look like: (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by andgarden on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 11:03:46 PM EST
    primary a Steny Hoyer and replace him with a Nancy Pelosi. (NB., Steny is a really attractive candidate to primary. The problem is that he's apparently pretty firmly entrenched).

    I've been spoiled (none / 0) (#16)
    by nycstray on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 11:52:52 PM EST
    between SF and NYC/Brooklyn. And now G Miller is my Rep.

    It seems to me in supposedly 'safe' districts, might as well pull out all the stops for better Dems, even if someone is entrenched. wake up calls for the entrenched, but more importantly for the voters. and then in the less safe/blue dog areas again work for better dems since you will have stronger dems as a backbone.

    personally, I'd like to start getting some Greens in in state and lesser positions so we can have some push down the road for dems to act like Dems or be replaced by Greens ;) we need to counter the right shift. I need to check the ballot here when I get it, but if I can vote for Boxer and/or Brown on Working Families here I will.


    I like it, andgarden (none / 0) (#12)
    by christinep on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 08:14:45 PM EST
    Really. I like the pragmatism or realism or down-to-earthism of your approach to maverick member voting. After walking with my dog and thinking on it, I think that my initial focus on trying to define the maverick party voter (75% or 80% or whatever)should really be a later step, and--realistically--the attempt to quantify would almost always not be needed. By starting with an initial screen measuring the historical "safeness" of a district, we start from the land of the real. (Whether its 10 or 8 points, or something else, it is an important focus on to the real and away from the emotionally charged "I can't stand x.")

    I wish that an approach like this could be promoted in future as a way to orient party energies in a systemically productive way.  It seems to me that it would take us a long way beyond the bloodletting occasioned by anger at a supposed maverick member when the district's circumstances might render a non-pragmatic challenge quixotic in nature at best. Thank you.


    Having the safe sate factor come first (none / 0) (#13)
    by andgarden on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 08:27:31 PM EST
    saves a lot of emotional effort. I don't waste my time kvetching about Jim Marshall or Frank Kratovil (though stay tuned on him--MD can gerrymander him a safe seat next year).

    One problem with my scheme is that it doesn't produce a lot of attractive targets. But IMO that's not a problem with the method so much as with the country--and to a lesser degree with the kinds of districts most states drew in 2001. A lot of people attack the map California drew in 2001, but actually it's ideal for my method: all of the Dems become safe, and Democrats are guaranteed the majority.


    Now is our chance (none / 0) (#17)
    by Not Impressed on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 06:26:04 AM EST
    Now is our chance, and it may be the only chance, do drop some dead weight of Blue Dogs that need to go.

    Consider this, in VA-02 Glenn Nye has been presenting himself as 'Republican-lite' at every forum, TV AD and any chance he can.  He will never support a liberal agenda because he'll always be running with his tail between his legs.

    If we cut him loose now there will be the opportunity to run a candidate that more closely matches the ideals of the party next cycle; if we help him protect his seat this time - no one will be run against him in a primary next go round because the party will NOT do that.

    There will be alot more voters voting the next election cycle and it will offer the opportunity to get a new and better candidate in.  If Nye is re-elected, he'll be the one riding that wave and we'll be STUCK with him forever.

    Cut him loose NOW while we still can!  I am NOT IMPRESSED with Nye!

    the huge dem majority gave you republican bills (none / 0) (#18)
    by Bornagaindem on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 08:02:56 AM EST
    When will you learn? Or are we as stupid as social conservative republicans who for years have voted against their economic interests (supporting tax cuts for the rich as the cure all for everything) because they were led to believe that repugs would eliminate abortion and gay rights (which of course they would never do because if they did those voters would start thinking about their economic interests) . As Obama keeps telling you (I don't have to listen because)  where are you going to go?

    Those "progressives" voted for a healthcare bill that created a mandate that individuals (but not employers) must purchase health insurance from PRIVATE companies. tThe same system that put us in the untenable runaway healthcare cost position we are in in the first place. This was bill less helpful than the Massachusetts bill that their republican governor pushed. And you want to continue to reward these people all in the name of the least worst choice.

    There is another way vote the congress out of office every two years until the system gets fixed. They can neither enrich or do anything in the two years they are in and we can get the power back. What if we had non partisan redistricting, public financing of elections and corporations were once again declared non persons? Wouldn't that be worth it?

    I'm fighting for Cong, Tim Walz 1st CD MN (none / 0) (#19)
    by DFLer on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 10:55:47 AM EST
    he's a good man, and will win.