The end of the Blue Dogs?

posted at 2:55 pm on February 7, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Meet Ashley Bell, a young man who looked to have a bright future in the Democratic Party.  Now he looks for a brighter future — as a Republican.  The former national president of College Democrats of America has joined an exodus of moderates and conservatives from the Democratic Party in the South after the midterm elections:

For Democrats, Ashley Bell was the kind of comer that a party builds a future on: A young African American lawyer, he served as president of the College Democrats of America, advised presidential candidateJohn Edwards and spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

But after his party’s midterm beat-down in November, Bell, a commissioner in northern Georgia’s Hall County, jumped ship. He joined the Republicans.

Bell, 30, said he had serious issues with the healthcare law and believed that conservative “blue dog” Democrats in Congress who shared his values had been bullied into voting for it.

Bell’s defection is one of dozens by state and local Democratic officials in the Deep South in recent months that underscore Republicans’ continued consolidation of power in the region — a process that started with presidential politics but increasingly affects government down to the level of dogcatcher.

The defections in Louisiana gave the GOP its first legislative majority in over a century.  In Alabama and Texas, they created Republican supermajorities.  The Democrats may have chosen Charlotte, North Carolina for their 2012 convention, but the South has increasingly become hostile territory to Democrats, as former Blue Dogs feel the party has become hostile to them.

This shows that the midterm elections were no fluke.  What we saw was a genuine realignment, not just a hiccup, at least in the South.  The pretense that the current Democratic Party leadership of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid welcomed diversity of thought on policy died hard in the 111th Session of Congress.  Instead of paying attention to conservatives and moderates in their ranks that expressed skepticism over ObamaCare and demanded the focus remain on the economy, Pelosi and Reid steamrolled them into voting for the deeply unpopular health-care bill — and consigned most of them to electoral losses last fall.

Politicians like Bell and Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell understand what Beltway Democrats apparently want to ignore, which is that their leadership has lost touch with Americans across the country.  Not only is there no room for what used to be known as Blue Dog Democrats in the Democratic coalition, they have seen outright hostility towards their positions from the Democratic Party.  These politicians understand that surviving means aligning themselves with the GOP.

When Reagan won his two big victories, he did so with the support of what were called Reagan Democrats, especially in the South, who backed Reagan but stayed with the Democratic Party.  Obama and Pelosi have done what even Reagan couldn’t do — convert Southern Democrats to the GOP.


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Looks like the chickens have come home to roost for the Democrats.

GarandFan on February 7, 2011 at 6:14 PM

Guys, please remember the Great Ronald Reagan was a democrat longer than he was a Republican.

When he gave his iconic 1964 speech he was only a few years removed from the stank of the democrat party.

As he said, he didn’t leave the party, the party left him.

The best think to do here is follow another bit of Reagan wisdom: Trust, but verify.

This could be legit. Seriously, the democrat party is nothing but a bunch of radicals, crazies, and so on. These people are just sick of it all.

gary4205 on February 7, 2011 at 3:12 PM

What do you know. I wholeheartedly agree with one of gary’s posts.

This is a good example, though, of why all RINOs should not be crucified. People are often on a journey. They, like Reagan or others, may be liberal or more moderate at this point in their life. But if they are on a journey rightward that is a good thing and should be encouraged. They shouldn’t be lambasted because they haven’t reached a true conservative position yet. Help them along the way and make their journey smooth. Don’t throw rocks at them and make them regret going down the path to begin with.

MikeknaJ on February 7, 2011 at 6:17 PM

Is Lindsay Graham going down a path? Is Olympia Snow going down a path? Is John McCain going down a path?

My view is that moderation is an attempt to broaden their appeal to the great unwashed. I have no tolerance for these politicians. You can try to counsel them or educate them and I wish you luck.

Angry Dumbo on February 7, 2011 at 6:39 PM

We are all on a path. We all come to forks in the road. I was never even interested in politics until I read Ayn Rand. I now identify as a conservative libertarian and participating in the political process has become very important to me. I was raised in a far left household. My youngest brother is also now a conservative thanks in great part to reading Rand as well as other literature that I provided him with.

ReneePA on February 7, 2011 at 7:15 PM

It’s a trap!!

They are going to sneak in under the cloak of a conservative, spend like a democrat, and get the populace pissed at republicans….do not let it happen!

lsutiger on February 7, 2011 at 7:21 PM

Lets just say that I am as black as President Obama and as White as President Obama.

portlandon on February 7, 2011 at 3:50 PM

I think your color is whatever color Patriots are.
Btw: I was born and raised a Scottish-Jewish conservative in Cook County.
Try THAT one on for size. LoL

annoyinglittletwerp on February 7, 2011 at 8:38 PM

This guy was a DINO, now he’s going to be a RINO.

Whoop – Dee – Doo.

Labamigo on February 7, 2011 at 9:28 PM

I am an independent, but the Repub party around here has been strengthened by this fine and (very) intelligent young man. I knew him personally when he was younger, and he has only gotten better.

Interesting to note that two politicians from north Georgia who were Democrats and who spoke at Democrat national conventions have turned Republican. The other is Zell Miller.

oakland on February 7, 2011 at 10:01 PM

I can’t believe some of what I’ve read.

In any war, the objective is not just the claiming (or re-claiming) of territory. Fundamental to holding that territory is the destruction of the opposition’s fighting force. You do this by killing them (not in a political or culture war, of course), getting some so demoralized they desert their cause, getting others to flee the field with so much panic they have lost their effectiveness as a fighting force; but the most effective way is converting the other soldiers to your side (and converting officers has a ripple effect.)
I understand why you don’t trust them right away, but in the battle of ideas if you don’t want to accept converts you really have no interest in winning.
For those of you who don’t want the brand diluted by less pure acolytes, I have one simple question: were you born as the highest example of conservativism, or did you become that way over time?
(Is the /sarc tag necessary?)
Just like legal immigrants–like my friend Carlos whom Harry Reid says doesn’t exist because he is a Republican naturalized citizen–sometimes the converts actually become the strongest proponents of America’s values because they have seen the clear differences between the two sides. When the conservative movement is led by former Dems become Small government types will all you purists be able to keep up? Or will you pout and skip out on the 2012 election if your candidate doesn’t win the nomination and thereby turn yourselves into the same Establishment RINOs you claim to dislike?

rwenger43 on February 7, 2011 at 11:21 PM

Before declaring that the 2010 election was a sea change, I would caution people to remember that the Democrats thought the same thing about 2008.

One thing I have observed in LA, is that while it is highly intolerant of non-conformal thought, most people believe the left wing stuff simply because that is all they have ever been told. The Talking Heads say it Sunday Morning, the zealots repeat it on Monday, and the populous parrots it back on Tuesday, but the populous at large doesn’t think about it; it’s a shibboleth that marks them are part of the group, not an ideal that they’ve back up with anything.

I’m up to late, and can’t seem to get the idea fleshed out, but basically, most liberal voters aren’t intractable. They’ve simply never been exposed to anything else, so we shouldn’t write them off.

Voyager on February 8, 2011 at 2:39 AM

Ed, you post a story about some Democrat switching parties and use a random picture of some black dude. We all know a black Democrat would never switch parties . . .

BigAlSouth on February 8, 2011 at 6:26 AM

If Republicans can ever make serious inroads into the black vote the Democrats will be in very serious trouble.

But that will never happen until we get a conservative black president. The 94% vote for Obama and the continued support from blacks for the Democrat party and Obama despite their continued complaints about lack of progress in society show that blacks vote primarily on race. A black conservative president will peel away at least 10-15% of the black vote from the Democrats. This would spell disaster for the Democrat Party for a long time.

A black president can tell them the truth and at least some will believe it. Otherwise blacks will remain on the Democrat plantation for a long time to come.

artman1746 on February 8, 2011 at 8:32 AM

This is a good example, though, of why all RINOs should not be crucified.

MikeknaJ on February 7, 2011 at 6:17 PM

We do not crucify RINOs. But we do object to handing them the reins. After all, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

And RINOs seem to fall for a lot of the progressive lines, thus making generally poor leaders.

dominigan on February 8, 2011 at 1:17 PM

How the hell can one reconcile being an advisor to the lying pig Edwards, who is in part responsible for the state of affairs our ‘healthcare’ system is in and then have problems with obakacare?
The fish stinks from the head down.

Lanceman on February 8, 2011 at 1:51 PM

Watch him.

…and I mean that in a “hopeful but cautious” kind of way.

Sterling Holobyte on February 8, 2011 at 2:07 PM

Good!

SC.Charlie on February 9, 2011 at 12:30 PM

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