The Democratic argument for 2012 is that the Republican Party and its presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, have been radicalized by a terror from conservatives and libertarian-minded people of the Tea Party action. The Obama period has been killing on the Blue Dogs. There were 54 people in 2009 but only 26 in 2011. – Maybe so. Of course, the very fact that average Romney were able to capture the nomination in surprisingly rapid manner does belie the Obama campaign debate a bit. The Romney of 2012 is virtually the identical to the Romney of 2008. Various, specially on social problems, from the Romney of 1994 and 2004, but we saw no significant changes since his first presidential run.
Democrats, however, are obviously facing a terrifying leadership of their own as liberal activists and unions keep upsetting reasonable people out of office. In Tuesday’s Pennsylvania Primary, two members of the Blue Dog Coalition, the Clinton-era House caucus of moderate Democrats came up short against more liberal opponents. Rep Tim Holden, who has represented a region stretching east from Harrisburg for a decade, lost to a personal injury lawyer, Matt Cartwright. Rep. Jason Altmire, who seized a Republican-held seat in suburban Pittsburgh through the Democratic trend election of 2006, dropped in a member-on-member primary to Rep. Mark Critz, the labor-backed successor to the late Rep. Bob Murtha.
Redistricting is in large part to blame for both beats. California misplaced two seats in the 2010 reapportionment and the Republican-controlled state legislature redrew the map to make it harder for moderate Democrats. Holden noticed his region move north and northwest in to more generous, more pro-union areas to the northeast. And the mash up of Critz and Altmire zones meant one Democrat was sure to drop. But there’s more at the office here than redrawn district lines. Democrats have grown to be less tolerant of the moderates in their midst, and the increasing impact of unions, specially government employee unions, is a huge area of the explanation. The Obama period has been murder on the Blue Dogs.
There have been 54 people in 2009 but only 26 in 2011. Obama’s health legislation is one of the principal offenders. After the pledges were made by the president about fiscal constraints, nearly all of the members signed on to his health legislation. Those votes proved fatal to the jobs of several people from red-leaning areas who often retired in the face of impossible odds or were beaten. Altmire and Holden survived by voting contrary to the health legislation and lasted the Republican influx of 2010. But, they paid the price for disloyalty last week as Democrats picked backers of the Obama legislation over adversaries.
Their plan was begun by Labor organizations in 2010 with anti-incumbent initiatives against Democrats in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and elsewhere. To get a feeling of the power unions hold in the new Democratic Party, not just one endangered Senate Democrat might be enticed on Tuesday to vote for a Republican-backed measure that could have blocked a transfer by the National Labor Relations Board making snap elections. A vote for that bill might have been a big help to red-state Democrats, but the unions would be bucked by none on the problem. Three sequential wave elections have left Americans with traditional House because the 1930s, the most generous president since Lyndon Johnson and the Senate at a standstill. With so little middle ground, voters may confront a plain and important moment this fall. The idea of a Clintonian Third Way for Democrats is a distant memory and with government unions playing an increasingly significant role for the party, leftward seems to be the only available path.