Representative Heath Shuler of North Carolina is not happy about the House leadership that turned last November’s elections into a “Blue Dog” bloodbath. He ran to replace Nancy Pelosi as the House Minority Leader, but didn’t get far. Today he spoke of woeful neglect to The Hill, saying there has been “no communication” between Pelosi and members of his moderate coalition.
He also said Blue Dogs have more in common with Ronald Reagan than Nancy Pelosi, which The Hill describes as “perhaps the ultimate rebuke to the Democratic leader.” Oh, I can think of a much more powerful rebuke. Come on, Heath. Belonging to the neglected minority within a despised minority party can’t be much fun. Disaffected Democrats have been switching parties all over the South, and the once-mighty centrist Democratic Leadership Council is coughing up blood. Switch parties right before the Democrats hold their 2012 convention in North Carolina, Mr. Shuler, and you will spin comedy gold from the straw of your despair.
Shuler’s plight is a natural consequence of the Democrat Party’s radicalization, and the terrible force of America’s hard turn away from the black hole of socialist collapse. What’s the “centrist” position on blowing hundreds of billions of dollars on useless pork-barrel projects and slush funds? What’s the “moderate” opinion of the Democrats’ unconstitutional takeover of the health insurance industry? Cut out the most radical features of ObamaCare, like the individual mandate, and you’re left with an incoherent mess that doesn’t make sense, even if all of its basic assumptions are left unchallenged. What good does it do to tear the corrupt heart from ObamaCare, only to be crushed beneath its collapsing bulk?
The remaining appeal of the Blue Dog Democrats is the idea they can somehow tamp down the worst excesses of Obama’s agenda, and produce something more workable and palatable to the American middle class. That’s a hopeless fantasy. The fabled “Third Way” of Bill Clinton the Democrat Leadership Council was a program of political profit from slow American decay, racking up relatively small charges on the government’s credit cards to buy support from key constituencies. That approach has been swept off the table for a generation, replaced by a stark binary choice between austerity and fiscal restraint, or wild spending and insolvency.
There are no more pennies to be nicked out of taxpayers’ pockets, to fund a cornucopia of little programs they would feel bad about shutting down. Third Way triangulation worked because it was an essentially pragmatic argument over details. In the decade since Clinton left office, the question has been escalated to one of philosophical magnitude. Obama has skipped us ahead to the end of a book the Blue Dogs would rather have enjoyed one page at a time, and Americans are screaming in horror at the shock ending.
The Blue Dog quest for relevance led them into an audience with Donald Trump today, a somewhat mysterious meeting that seems linked to Trump’s presidential aspirations. Frankly, the Blue Dogs could have played poker with Trump for an hour, and accomplished their objective of making Party leadership sweat a little.
As for Trump, his path to office does not lie in buying the old Democrat Leadership Council offices. No “centrist” illusions can conceal the sharp edges of the choice before America in 2012. That choice is between resistance and submission. There is no meaningful option for compromise. The Blue Dogs – along with “moderate” Republicans – would do well to remember that, if they wish to remain meaningful.