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Some Blue Dogs can see the writing on the wall that the recently concluded election represents. Most notably, North Carolina Representative Heath Shuler recently announced that he will challenge Pelosi for the Minority Leader’s position, although Shuler acknowledges that he doesn’t currently have the votes to do so. “I don’t have the numbers to be able to win, but I think it’s a proven point for moderates and the Democrat Party that we have to be a big tent,” Shuler said. “We have to be all-inclusive. We have to invite everyone into the party.”
Pelosi, like her Senate counterpart Harry Reid, has exposed the hypocrisy of that once-prized Democratic ideal – that of the “big tent” – beyond repair. If you favor less government, lower taxes, tighter control of immigration, anti-abortion legislation, strong foreign policy, states’ rights or the proposition that America is “one nation under God” then it’s quite clear that there is no room under “the tent” for you. Progressive Democrats drew a line in the sand with the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Or at least they thought they did. They believed that Obama election signaled the nation’s readiness to embrace the progressive agenda and, as importantly, to reject the extremist, conservative policies of George W. Bush.
But, therein lies the problem. Bush was never a right-wing extremist. Some of his harshest critics were those on the right, who believed that the forty-third president of the United States went way too far to placate the other side of the aisle. America didn’t reject conservatives in 2008, instead they voted against perceived incompetence, and then only just barely. Conservatives voted for McCain, liberals voted for Obama and the deciding factor, the independents in the middle, tilted toward the current president and his party because they believed – or rather they fervently wanted to believe – that they had found the kind mainstream leadership that would rise above politics and ideology that they so yearned for.
In 2010, independents acknowledged that they had gotten it terribly wrong. Rather than supporting a new way of thinking, their votes had replaced supposed incompetence with a single-minded leftist ideology that approached every problem the nation faced with two meager solutions in hand: print more money and blame George W. Bush. Neither message has much traction any more. Heath Shuler understands that, as do his fellow Blue Dogs. And Nancy Pelosi? She doesn’t have a clue, but then she never did. Pelosi is poised to remain the voice of the left in the House. Republicans could hope for nothing more.
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