12.31.2009 0

The Line in the Sand and the Myth of Blue Dog Democrats

  • On: 01/25/2010 09:51:50
  • In: Conservative Movement
  • By David Bozeman

    If, as the 2010 elections approach, the Democrats appear headed for a crushing defeat, expect to hear that Americans just ‘want to throw the bums out.’ But to write off voter disgust with out-of-control spending and the stinking backroom buyoffs to pass an unpopular health care bill as a generic anti-incumbency fashion statement clearly benefits the party in charge, that being the Democratic Party.

    Meanwhile, conservatives, with good reason, are cautious enough not to embrace the GOP too warmly after it was soundly defeated in ‘06 and ‘08 and has yet to fully regain its footing. Still, those on the right should avoid painting too broad a target.

    The Washington Times’ national weekly edition (January 11) features an article entitled ‘Tea Party Activists Draw Line in Sand for GOP.’ Jenny Beth Martin, the Georgia-based national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots is quoted: “People in America are very tired of the irresponsible taxing and spending that has happened in Washington . . . “ She says both parties would pay at the polls if they ignored the Tea Party movement. Dale Roberts, who operates the 6-million strong TeaParty.org out of Houston noted that his network is nonpartisan and would support conservative candidates regardless of affiliation.

    Regardless of affiliation? Good luck finding a conservative Democrat. In the House — maybe. As for the Senate, Blue Dog Democrats hold about as much relevance to America’s future as typewriters and tape decks.

    Interestingly, the same Washington Times edition profiled the efforts of Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to strip pork-barrel spending projects (such as potato research, restoration of a music hall, etc.) from spending bills. Of 48 attempts to cut the pork by amendment, he failed 48 times. Among others who struck out are Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK), John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX). Despite greater transparency of the legislative process, the Times reports such projects are still just as hard to vote down. Kudos to those Republicans for fighting the good fight. Now, guess which party controls Congress.

    The Times does acknowledge that 2005, with Republicans in charge, saw what some groups label the high point in discretionary spending. Nonetheless, no one can blame the Stimulus Package or that wildly unpopular, bureaucratic nightmare known as Obama-care on Republicans. Liberty Features has profiled a number of the GOP’s staunchest advocates for limited government and fiscal restraint, including the aforementioned Tom Coburn, Senator James Inhofe, also of Oklahoma, Representatives Michele Bachman (MN), Duncan D. Hunter (CA), and not even the shortest list would be just without Mike Pence of Indiana.

    Of course, the party’s conservative base needs some leverage to keep it adhered to the winning small-government principles of Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin (and another great Republican — win or lose — Scott Brown). The party is not above criticism and has still not fully pulled itself up.

    But the over-riding goal of 2010 is defeating liberalism and halting the Democratic march to bigger government. In so doing, the GOP can define and redeem itself. It’s not enough to ‘throw the bums out,’ conservatives must define who the bums are. Analysts will write off a Republican victory to the truism that the party out of power automatically does well in mid-terms, though George W. Bush, before he was sunk by Iraq, Katrina and 70% disapproval numbers, defied history and led the GOP to impressive victories in 2002.

    The standard ‘I’m fed up with both parties’ bears concern, but offers weak get-out-the-vote motivation, and expecting more than a handful of Democrats to consistently stand for smaller government caters less to fact and more to the niceties of political discourse favorable to guess which party. Drawing a line is bold, but smart is recognizing who has already crossed it and kicked sand in your face.

    David Bozeman, a former North Carolina Libertarian Party President, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer for Americans for Limited Government.

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