“Fiscally conservative” Blue Dog Democrats fail to protect taxpayers

Blue Dog Democrats

Much ink has been spilled in the last few years over the decline of the Blue Dog Coalition in the House of Representatives. Just this week, the Washington Post ran a story noting that this group of purportedly centrist Democrats will has seen its numbers fall from 50 members four years ago.

“[T]he Blue Dog Coalition is a shell of its former self, shrunken to just 15 members because of political defeat, retirements after redrawn districts left them in enemy territory and just plain exhaustion from the constant battle to stay in office,” wrote Paul Kane at the Washington Post. “Several are not running for reelection in November, and a few others are top targets of Republicans.”

There actually 19 members of the Blue Dog Coalition, though three members aren’t running for reelection in 2014. Reps. Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Mike McIntyre (D-NC), whose districts were targeted by Republicans, decided to retire. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) is running for governor in Maine. Other members of the Blue Dog Coalition face tough bids for reelection, which could further dwindle its numbers at the beginning of the next Congress.

Blue Dog Democrats claim to “represent the center of the House of Representatives” and purport to be “dedicated to the financial stability and national security of the United States.” In news stories, reporters will frequently refer to Blue Dogs as “fiscally conservative” or “deficit hawks.”

Libertarianism and the Center: The Appeal

I have previously argued that we as libertarians should target our appeal to centrists. Libertarians and centrists share many characteristics, mainly the common value of independence and the rejection of the Republican and Democratic ideological orthodoxies as presented. Furthermore, the center has quite clearly been the electoral kingmaker in recent history, so the political advancement of libertarians depends significantly on their success in winning centrist votes.

Libertarianism and The Center

Libertarians constantly face the preeminent struggle to form and implement strategies to gain political relevance. The party has never achieved a result better than 1% on a Presidential Election. Adding to our frustration is the failure of the Libertarian Party to capitalize on the opportunity Ron Paul’s groundbreaking Republican Primary campaign, which gained new ground for the libertarian philosophy in terms of visibility. Bob Barr’s campaign failed to crack 500,000 votes in an election cycle in which Ron Paul earned more than 1 million votes in Republican primaries and caucuses.

Romney still not giving conservatives a reason to like him

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney, the soon-to-be crowned Republican nominee, and his campaign haven’t done much in recent days to calm the nerves of conservatives. As mentioned earlier today, Romney’s people have been heavily involved in rules changes that are the beginning of the end of grassroot activism in the party process. Romney once again defended his health care reform law, which was the blueprint for ObamaCare and the main reason many GOP primary rejected his candidacy out of hand.

Another slap in the face of grassroots activists came from Avik Roy, who advises Romney on health policy. During an interview on MSNBC, Roy weighed in on some of the platform positions forged, hinting that they posed a problem to a candidate trying to run close to the middle and that activists wouldn’t have much pull inside Romney’s presidency:

Avik Roy, a health care policy adviser to the Romney campaign, said the GOP platform — which includes provisions like a “human life amendment” to the Constitution that would ban abortions with no exceptions for rape, incest or to save the life of the mother — should not be considered a reflection of Romney’s personal views.

“I think it is a statement of what activists in the party, the consensus among activists in the party believe should be the core of activist conservatism,” Roy said. “But that is different from what a candidate who is appealing to the center of the country is going to try to do.”

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