Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who let the dogs in?

Pop quiz. What do you call a gay man who pretends to be a straight man in public? Closeted. What do you call a politician who pretends to be something he or she is not in public? A blue dog Democrat.

That's right, I'm taking on my own, something you apparently, if Sarah Palin's approval numbers among the faithful are to be believed, will never see from a Republican. The fact is, the Blue Dogs must figure out who they are, or we need to do it for them.

I understand there is a variety of beliefs in the Democratic party. In another differentiation from Republicans, we do not seek to "purify" our party on ideological grounds. There truly is a big tent. But sometimes, disputes within the party have to be settled within the party, and must not end up serving the needs of the opponent.

Case in point, health care reform. I do not expect Max Baucus, Ben Nelson, Claire McCaskill et al to just roll over and become liberal. But they can't use the party's name and funds to win elections, and then revert to joining the Republican party in opposition to their own party. I get that they are not deeply blue (despite the name), perhaps, as a friend puts it, they're a bit purple. But shouldn't they be endeavoring to find a compromise between the purple and the blue, not between the purple and the red? That's what's happening. They wish to drag their entire party over into compromising between the center and the far right, and even that may not be enough. And they are using parliamentary procedure to do so, lacking the majority, even in concert with Republicans. They are in effect stalling the will of the majority to the default victory of their supposed opponent.

Here's the deal dogs. We don't expect you to agree with the left completely. But you must show some party affiliation, if not loyalty, by negotiating in good faith between your position and the prevailing views of the party. If you cannot be satisfied with the result, fine, we won't expect you to vote for it. But what you better do, what you are compelled by all decency to do, is simply the right thing: Vote down any filibuster, which the size of the Republican Minority does not entitle them to. Then vote against the measure in an up and down vote.

There, you've covered all your bases. You've negotiated in good faith, giving up neither principle nor party integrity. You have not allowed your opponent to use you to deny the measure a vote. You have gone on the record as being against the measure, thus displaying your courage and beliefs. And most of all, you have allowed the majority to prevail, which is as it should be.

If you can't do this much, then quite frankly, will the last one of you shut the door on your way out? If you're going to do the work of the red, you have no business draped in blue.

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