Quality vs. Quantity

I’m a partisan Democrat because I believe in strength in numbers, not because I’m enamored of the party. In fact, like a lot self-described Liberals, I’m extremely disappointed so far with the Dem Leadership in Congress. Digby at Hullabaloo writes about the dilemma facing “progressives” in the Democratic Party (I think that term is a cop-out, personally) and striking a balance between adhering to ideals and being in the majority and having at least more voice than when you’re in the minority. The piece mainly focuses on the “Blue Dog” Dems, who are those who come from traditionally conservative districts. Now, like I said earlier, I believe in strength in numbers, so I can accept that not all Dems will be voting in Congress as Liberal as I would like. Congressman Barney Franks (to name just one example of what one would consider an actual DFH Liberal) has at least more influence in a Democratic majority than he would in a Democratic minority, even if his views are a minority within the party. Nevertheless, Digby does make some good points about the Blue Dogs efforts to play it safe:

[Quoting Chris Hayes of The Nation]

The worst example of mistaking preference for intensity is on the issue of “fiscal responsibility.” Tune into CSPAN at random and you’re likely to hear a Democrat railing against fiscal irresponsibility and the budget deficit. The worst offenders are the Blue Dog caucus of Democrats from conservative districts who are positively obsessed, with a kind of monomaniacal zeal, on balancing the budget and matching revenue to expenditures. So much so, in fact, that they’re now threatening to block Jim Webb’s excellent G.I. Bill because its expenses aren’t adequately off-set.

This is asinine. The notion that it will somehow be politically beneficial to go back to a conservative district and crow about killing a bill to give educational benefits to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan is loony. And the notion that voters will base their vote on fiscal rectitude is ungrounded both empirically and experientially. Can someone name the last time a member of congress was voted out of office because the deficit was too large? I understand that Democrats in conservative districts will vote differently than those from, say, Manhattan or Oakland. But the Blue Dog caucus has chosen an inexplicably stupid issue to plant their flag on. And their obstinacy is going to cause massive headaches should there be a Democrat in the White House come January.

And in her own words:

Republicans know very well how to set the agenda from the minority. In fact, at certain times they prefer it. There is more freedom in it and it suits their temperaments as the victimized minority. Until the Democrats figure out that they are being manipulated, the Republicans will continue to get away with it.

And it doesn’t look as if they are getting any smarter [from subscription-only Roll Call]:

With House Democrats increasingly looking to conservative candidates to grow their majority, members of the fiscally austere Blue Dog Coalition are signaling they will lift their year-old admission cap to accommodate an influx of like-minded freshmen.

The group last February took the unusual step of restricting its membership rolls to 20 percent of the size of the full Democratic Caucus to guard against growing unwieldy.

But with the special election victories this month of two Blue Dog-backed candidates — Don Cazayoux (La.) and Travis Childers (Miss.) — and a host of once-long-shot Democratic candidates running in GOP strongholds now looking more competitive, the coalition’s leaders said they are likely to re-evaluate the cap after the November elections.


It’s great that these candidates are rehabilitating the Democratic name in some places, but I suspect that has more to do with discontent with the Republicans than anything else. These Blue Pups are only running on one Democratic “vote-moving” issue — throw the GOP bums out — and that’s obviously a one time deal.

I don’t know…

I despise the Blue Dogs’ position on the Webb-sponsored GI Bill, but it’s also true that “losers don’t legislate”.