At a recent town hall meeting in a rural Utah town of about 6,000 residents, I heard from hard-working Utahns about health care costs, transportation needs and retirement security. One man expressed his optimistic belief that his vote for me — a Democrat in deep red Utah — would result in a representative loyal to his constituents, not to a political party or ideology. Heads nodded in agreement when I said that the title “representative” is also a job description and one that I am dedicated to fulfilling.

My fellow New Democrat and Blue Dog Coalition leaders believe that Republicans have ceded huge territory in the center by abandoning opportunity, innovation and fiscal responsibility on debt and deficits. Moderates in Congress have an opportunity to be a strong, reasonable voice, in contrast with some of the reckless policies that, in truth, both parties have often pursued. As a voting bloc, there’s a lot of strength in the middle.