Just to continue about the stupidity of a Heath Shuler run for Minority Leader, consider that even Joe Klein can figure out that Blue Dogs cut their own throat, and putting the kind of people in charge with that same mentality would basically end the Democratic Party as we know it:
Normally, I don’t have much patience for the whining on the left about the Blue Dog democrats — who were sliced in half on Tuesday, losing at least 28 of their 54 seats. When they lose, the Democrats lose control of the Congress. This year, however, I do feel that there is an argument that, to an extent, the Dogs brought this on themselves by being penny-wise, dogpound-foolish. The argument goes like this: a larger stimulus package might have helped the economy recover at a faster clip, but the Dogs opposed it on fiscal responsibility grounds.
A second argument: the public really has had it with Wall Street, but the Dogs helped water down the financial regulatory bill, gutting the too-big-to-fail provisions. There is real merit to both points. If the stimulus had been bigger and the financial reform package clearer and stronger, the public would have had a different — and, I believe, more positive — sense of the President’s agenda…
The point is, ideological myopia is counter-productive whether it’s found on the left, the right … or the center.
Klein couldn’t help a gratuitous and unexplained shot at the left there, but his analysis is generally correct. People had concerns about their economic circumstances. The Blue Dogs helped make sure those concerns weren’t met. As a result, the people threw out the Democrats (mostly through Democratic constituencies staying home), particularly Blue Dogs.
Thirty-nine House Democrats voted against health care reform; 27 of them lost. House Democrats who distanced themselves from the party by bashing Nancy Pelosi almost all lost. Almost every House Democrat who voted against unemployment benefit extensions lost.
All of these groups strongly correlate with Blue Dogs. In fact, Shuler is one of the few who engaged in these tactics and won, and I maintain that having a progressive at the top of the ticket in North Carolina in Elaine Marshall, even though she lost, gave Democrats something to turn out and fight for. Even Shuler owes his win to the party, not the Blue Dogs.
The point is not necessarily that pols who vote against core Democratic principles always get defeated. It’s that you certainly can’t hide by doing that. You can be a Republican-lite candidate and go as far to the right as you want, that district will probably vote for a Republican when the environment is favorable to them. I think that’s why the NRCC knows they can keep the House for a while – well, that and their large advantage in redistricting. They know that their opponents will play this dumb game again where they run screaming from their own party label, and lose in the process. Heath Shuler’s Democratic Party is a permanent minority party that doesn’t even know how to help themselves – by working to improve the lives of citizens.
The other option is to run as a fighter for working interests. That doesn’t always work either, but sometimes it does, like in the case of Chellie Pingree, who ended up winning going away. She defended her votes in an environment where a Tea Partier won the governorship in Maine, and she coasted to victory.