As usual, things aren’t always what you think they are in the world of politics. Case in point: Democrats aren’t always Democrats and Republicans aren’t always Republicans in the sense that members of the Congress follow their leaders on critical issues to the nation. This last fall, Americans were told that they had ushered in a new Congress made up of a Democratic majority larger than the one that came into office in 2006. Democrats rejoiced everywhere! Finally, they said, we’ll put this country back on track toward a more progressive society.
In addition, a new Democratic president took office giving Democrats control of the White House and the Congress. The Senate, too, now has a substantial margin of Democrats over Republicans in an almost veto-proof situation with 59 Democrats holding seats.
So, why has President Obama and the Congress become so indecisive, compromising, and centerist in most, if not all policy initiatives?
The reason is especially transparent in the US House of Representatives where on every major vote Speaker Pelosi has to keep her "coalition government" together to get even the most tepid Democratic initiatives passed. Why? Because of the faction in the House known as the "Blue Dogs." This group originally made up of southern conservative Democrats has grown into a large national faction that must be taken into account with each and every vote in the Congress.
Yesterday’s vote on keeping the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan going with money for the IMF and a new weapons system was made possible by the "Blue Dogs" holding out their support until the bill looked like they wanted it to and not what progressive Democrats wanted. Health care reform, if there is to be any, will also be decided by the "Blue Dogs."
Mostly made up of Democrats, these "blue dog" representatives are center to right leaning and eschew major progressive changes as either too costly or too radical. There are 53 "blue dog" representatives in the House who together can make or break just about any policy initiative.
Speaker Pelosi doesn’t have a Democratic majority at all. She has three factions: Progressive Democrats; Reactionary Republicans; and, centrist "Blue Dogs." In essence, there are now three political parties in the United States at the national level. Republicans are in decline; Democrats are in decline; and, "Blue Dogs" are increasing their numbers as a centrist political party.
And, you thought we only had two political parties in this country!
(This post is also on eProf2)