You may have seen the statistic going around that 47% of Blue Dogs got returned to Congress last night, while 96% of the Progressive Caucus returned. That isn’t a completely fair statistic. For the most part, those progressives are in safer districts. For the ones in less safe districts, they had big problems last night: Alan Grayson, Phil Hare and John Hall got beat. (Grayson should find another seat in Florida and move there). And for the most part, your ideology didn’t matter so much as the D next to your name. Everyone got beat.
But those are just the numbers of candidates who lost. What about the ones who won? Democrats picked up three seats from Republicans, making good on some prior anomalies and realigning correctly. Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), Cedric Richmond (LA-02) and John Carney (DE-AL) all won. Of those, I would say Hanabusa and Richmond will join the Progressive Caucus. In AL-07, Terri Sewell replaced Artur Davis. She’s a lot more progressive than he ever was, and she will likely join the caucus. David Cicilline (RI-01), the replacement for Patrick Kennedy and another openly gay member of Congress, is likely to join (Patrick Kennedy never did). The race that a progressive lost in a primary, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (MI-13), was over ethical issues, and she’ll be replaced by Hansen Clarke, likely to join the caucus.
What’s likely, then, is an increase in the ranks of the Progressive Caucus numbers. Even if they opened the floodgates on the Blue Dog Caucus, which they limit, they won’t increase their numbers.
Also note that the only Democrat endorsed by the Tea Party Express, Walt Minnick, who used the endorsement to engage in basically racist tactics, lost too. The tea party imprimatur didn’t matter.
A better gauge of all this is how Blue Dog tactics undermine Democrats everywhere. They destroy the Democratic brand and give the impression that Democrats either stand for nothing or deserve scorn. They hurt progressives, moderates and even the Blue Dogs in their own caucus who align with them for various reasons but don’t hurt the party in any major way. A better road would be to stop neglecting the base and lavishing attention on people who are ashamed of you.
What has happened has happened. I’m less interested in talking about the ways the administration screwed up, than in what they’re going to do about it in preparation of 2012. First thing’s first — stop bashing the base, or the professional left, or whatever liberal boogeymen pisses them off. Fact is, people who fall in those disaffected categories — the young, blacks, Latinos — don’t read blogs, or watch Keith Olbermann, or read Firedoglake. But they are losing their jobs and their homes, and they see Wall Street get all manners of bailouts without any of it trickling down to them. That has killed us. Make their lives better, or (since nothing will happen with Boehner in the House) at least fight to make their lives better.
This isn’t about throwing a bone to the base to make them happy, it’s about doing the right thing for America — fight for jobs, fight for opportunity, fight for equality under the law. Democrats believe that government can make people’s lives better, so embrace and fight for that belief. If Democrats are in it to protect Goldman Sachs, they might as well flip to the other team.
Markos calls for the firing of Tim Kaine in that rant. I can’t see how this would hurt.
I think we need Results Democrats willing to put people first. That about sums it up. Those types of people are far more likely to join a progressive caucus than a Blue Dog coalition.