Where have all the Blue Dog Democrats gone?
In 1995, a coalition of Democrats was formed to counter the Democrat party’s shift to the left, a shift which helped give the Republicans control of Congress after the 1994 election. This coalition came to be known as the “Blue Dog Democrats”.
The term “Blue Dog” came about when Pete Green, a Democrat representative from Texas, said more moderate members of the Democrat party were being “choked blue” by those who were moving the party more to the left.
Those who joined the Blue Dog coalition were Democrats who saw themselves as fiscally conservative and strong on national defense and advocated for working with Republicans to gain bipartisan support for issues.
When the Blue Dogs were formed, there were over 50 member of the coalition, which was about 25% of the Democrat party in the House. Today, as the party shifts more to the left, there are only about 25 Blue Dog members, which represents about 10% of the Democrat party in the House. The Blue Dogs seem to have started to lose their voice and may not be able to counter their party’s shift further to the left.
Apparently, the Blue Dog’s inability to counter the party’s shift to the left and the party’s strong arm tactics against those who were not willing to fall into party lines was too much for Jeff Van Drew, a representative from New Jersey who was both a Democrat and a “Blue Dog” up until the time he switched party affiliation and joined the Republicans. He felt as if the party was abandoning him over his centrist views and, especially, because of his expected vote to not impeach the President.
It is troubling when a member of a party feels the need to leave the party because of intolerance towards dissenting positions. However, this may partly be why, as a party, Democrats appear to be stronger than and more unified than Republicans. It seems that Republicans tolerate opposing views within their own party, so much so that Republicans break ranks on votes and issues much more frequently than Democrats.
But, it is the intolerance and strong arm tactics to force members to fall into line with the party that suppresses the free flow of thoughts and discussion that helps to lead to a health political climate and meaningful solutions to the practical problems within the country.
If the Blue Dogs and other moderate Democrats can’t find their voice in the current culture of the Democrat party, is it time to leave those pushing so hard for a shift to the left and for a third party moderate coalition to emerge and legitimately be competitive on a national basis?