Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Harnessing the ‘lie’ fiasco - Blue Dogs should worry about getting the Joe Wilson Treatment

When votes start getting cast, those who vote against a public option will generate the kind of ire that Wilson received, and activists will look for ways to punish those corporatist Democrats. Primary challengers are already being recruited in several Blue Dog districts, and votes against reform will generate additional impetus for more primaries. And while ordinary Americans will never be able to outraise the insurance industry and their millions of bribe dollars, they can generate enough money to wage credible campaigns.

Consequently, Blue Dogs should worry about being in the mainstream of their constituents. For example, Rep. Jim Cooper in the Tennessee 5th congressional district has been a longtime foe of real healthcare reform. Yet a Research 2000 poll for Daily Kos found that only 31 percent of respondents would vote to reelect him. Asked if they approved of his actions on healthcare, just 31 percent approved, including just 16 percent of Democrats. All told, 61 percent supported a public option, while just 28 percent opposed it.

Progressive activists are itching for primary challenges to reduce the influence of corporatist Democrats in Congress. Blue Dogs can either solidify their electoral standing by voting on behalf of their constituents, or they can invite primary challenges funded by the party’s well-connected and engaged progressive base.

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