Over at Open Left they’re going after the “Bush Dogs,” Democratic House members who have voted el-wrongo on both the war and on FISA (and how disappointed was I to see Ciro Rodriguez, a guy we’d raised a substantial amount of money for, on that list).
Considering how successful progressive primary challenges have been in pushing Ellen Tauscher, Al Wynn and Jane Harmon into less knee-jerk reactionary positions, they’re asking people who have representatives on the list to help them get up to speed regarding what’s going on in that district.
Stoller (via email):
By and large, the conservative Democratic elites really don’t care, and they think they are going to win in 2008 without having to lead on anything the public or the activists in the party thinks is important. Maybe that is true, or maybe it isn’t. But I’m sure tired of conservative Democratic politicians thinking that their goal in life is to get better parking spots than they did last cycle.
A few of us at OpenLeft have been working on a campaign to identify the group of conservative Democrats in the House who are holding back progressives from being able to effectively govern. These are concentrated in two main caucuses, the Blue Dog Caucus and the New Democrat caucuses. Blue Dogs consider themselves heirs to the Southern conservative wing of the party, and tend to vote for socially restrictive policies and a neoconservative foreign policy. The New Democrats tend to be more partisan, but often are key to passing important pieces of right-wing legislation, such as the Bankruptcy Bill. In the last few years, these two caucuses have expanded their numbers, and the Blue Dogs have become the swing vote in the House allowing for effective conservative control of the Congress. We want to put a stop to the embrace of conservative values among House Democrats, and make sure that when Democrats are elected, they act like Democrats.
As Chris Bowers, notes, the two biggest defeats for House Democrats so far in 2007 have been the capitulation vote on Iraq, and the vote to allow Alberto Gonzales warrant-less wiretapping powers. We’re calling the Democrats who capitulated on both bills ‘Bush Dogs’, as these are the most likely to capitulate on important fights in the future.
The first step in stopping this behavior is to identify the people engaging in it and offer up criticism. There are a few reasons for this. One, many of these members feel no pressure to vote correctly or uphold progressive values. Criticism is the signal they are relying on to let them know when they err. Two, some of these members may need to face a primary challenge, and it’s useful for potential primary challengers to know that there is criticism of these members.
In each election cycle we need to be able to isolate the Bush Dogs who are vulnerable and take on one or two until they start to toe the line. Please stop by OpenLeft and help ‘em out if you can.
Me, I’m gonna give Ciro a call. I don’t like this and I think it would be good for him to stop by and explain these particular votes to the people online who supported his campaign.