If you look at the breakdown for the House’s vote on health care reform, you’ll see that of the 39 Democrats voting against reform, 24 were Blue Dogs. Nearly each of the Blue Dogs voting against reform came from districts that supported John McCain in 2008, and of those, fourteen were freshmen Democrats defending seats in districts that went for McCain by at least ten points. Most of those districts are predominately rural, and it’s very likely that they rank on the low end of most socio-economic indicators.
All of this is apropos of low-tech cyclist’s discussion of “Blue Doggism” or the tendency on part of Blue Dogs to adopt positions and support policies that hurt their districts economically. The health care bill stands prominently, but there are dozens of smaller, equally egregious instances of Blue Dogs signing on to legislation that benefits the wealthy and privileged at the expense of the folks they actually represent. Low-tech cyclist blames the Blue Dogs themselves for this behavior, and while that explanation holds water for some Blue Dogs — see: former Rep. Harold Ford (TN-9) — I’m not sure if it’s true of each Blue Dog.
Looking at the data from the health care vote, my hunch is that the majority of Blue Dogs are actually reflecting their constituents’ preferences. I’m certain that if you were to look at each of the Blue Dogs that voted against health care reform, and polled health care reform within their districts, you’d find that their constituents are significantly (if not overwhelmingly) against the legislation. Yes, your average Blue Dog is a corporate lackey, but he also represents aconservative district and in all likelihood, is reflecting the preferences of his constituents.
When it comes down to it, the problem isn’t that Blue Dogs are spineless, it’s that a large swath of rural America —disproportionately poor and disadvantaged — has decided that its interests are best served by conservative policies. Which, at the moment, amount to little more than giveaways to the wealthiest and most privileged Americans.