News that Rep. Jim Costa Dennis Cardoza is retiring is particularly good news for those of us who want to see the end of the pernicious influence of the biggest band of self-defeating Democrats in Congress—the Blue Dogs.
In 2008, they numbered 54 members, and bragged that they were turning away Democrats clammoring to join their caucus. After 2010, they were 25—a silver lining to an otherwise bleak year. It turned out that pretending to be Republicans and undermining their party was not a path to self-preservation. Indeed, the Blue Dogs accounted for half of the party’s House losses that year. Yet they didn’t really learn their lesson, and have continued to undermine President Barack Obama and the Democrats.
But their caucus continues to be decimated—this time by retirements. Already, Reps. Dan Boren and Mike Ross, both in the Blue Dog leadership, have announced their retirements from Congress. Good riddance. With Costa’s announcement, that brings them down to 22.
Good riddance to bad Democrats. May the door hit them repeatedly on the way out. And a word of caution to any aspiring Arkansas Democrats that wants to go to Congress, namely Clark Hall and Gene Jeffress. (I’m excluding Ken Aden from this warning as it’s pretty obvious he’s about as far from being a Blue Dog as you can be.) If you go to Congress and join the Blue Dogs, you’re not going to be part of a powerful, influential caucus anymore. You’re going to be in a much smaller clique with an increasingly diminishing amount of power. And don’t think for a minute that grabbing that Blue Dog mantle will protect you when it comes time for reelection, or that obstructing your own party’s agenda will guarantee your own political success. After all-take a look at what happened to most of the Democrats that opposed the Affordable Care Act in 2010:
Rep. John Adler (N.J.) Lost.
Rep. Jason Altmire (Pa.)
Rep. Michael Arcuri (N.Y.) Lost.
Rep. John Barrow (Ga.)
Rep. Marion Berry (Ark.) Retired.
Rep. Dan Boren (Okla.)
Rep. Rick Boucher (Va.) Lost.
Rep. Bobby Bright (Ala.) Lost.
Rep. Ben Chandler (Ky.)
Rep. Travis Childers (Miss.) Lost.
Rep. Artur Davis (Ala.) Lost Democratic primary for governor.
Rep. Lincoln Davis (Tenn.) Lost.
Rep. Chet Edwards (Texas) Lost.
Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.D.) Lost.
Rep. Tim Holden (Pa.)
Rep. Larry Kissell (N.C.)
Rep. Frank Kratovil (Md.) Lost.
Rep. Dan Lipinski (Ill.)
Rep. Stephen Lynch (Mass.)
Rep. Jim Marshall (Ga.) Lost.
Rep. Jim Matheson (Utah)
Rep. Mike McIntyre (N.C.)
Rep. Mike McMahon (N.Y.) Lost.
Rep. Charlie Melancon (La.) Lost senate race.
Rep. Walt Minnick (Idaho) Lost.
Rep. Glenn Nye (Va.) Lost.
Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn.)
Rep. Mike Ross (Ark.)
Rep. Heath Shuler (N.C.)
Rep. Ike Skelton (Mo.) Lost.
Rep. Zack Space (Ohio) Lost.
Rep. John Tanner (Tenn.) Retired.
Rep. Gene Taylor (Miss.) Lost.
Rep. Harry Teague (N.M.) Lost.
(Words in bold are my own.)
Less than half of the guys who cast the “right vote for their district” were reelected by their constituents. That’s kind of telling. Of course other Democrats went down in 2010, but it was Blue Dog obstructionism that made it impossible for the party to function at its best going into that election and those that voted against the bill still went down to defeat. As a friend of mine once said, when you start off in a tough district trying to run a safe campaign, you’ve already gotten off on the wrong foot.
The bottom line is we don’t need the Blue Dogs-their way is not a magic path to victory in tough districts, and in many ways their approach is counterproductive for everyone. We will be better off as a party (and as a country) when the inevitable happens and they go the way of the dinosaurs.