After the Republicans gained the majority in Congress in 1994, the moderate Democrats formed their own coalition within the House. Most of them were fiscal conservatives opposed to deficit spending while still supporting the basic political goals of the Democratic party. They were labeled “blue dog Democrats.”
House representative Pete Green coined the term blue dog. He said moderate Democrats were being “choked blue” by extreme Democrats from the left. Today, the caucus has 54 members and is caught in a similar stranglehold from socialist Democrats.
Green copied a color code for Democrats from the term “yellow dog Democrat,” which described Southern Democrats who would vote for a yellow dog as long as it was a Democrat. That was never more evident than during the 1928 presidential election between Republican Herbert Hoover and Democrat Al Smith when the term yellow dog Democrat gained popularity.
Although many Democrats said they wouldn’t support Smith because of his political platform and his Catholic faith, the South voted for him anyway. Smith still lost the election.
The Democrats were also color-coded blue by television commentator and journalist Tim Russert. During the coverage of the 2000 presidential election, Russert was the first to use colored maps illustrating which states were voting for Democrats or Republicans. Blue states represented Democrats and red states Republicans. The Democrats have been blue ever since and still see red whenever you mention Sarah Palin’s name.
This year, the majority of the blue dog caucus members are up for re-election. If they are defeated by conservative Republicans, the political fulcrum for compromise and bipartisanship will be nonexistent in either party.
A recent Pew poll indicated that 54 percent of the Democrats think compromise is good for politics. Only one-third of Republicans share that opinion, which isn’t good news for Democrats, especially Nevada’s own Sen. Harry Reid. But compromise, or the lack of compromise, is what this election is all about. Most Democrats are willing to compromise; most Republicans are not.
Locally, Sen. Reid’s challenger, Sharron Angle, has a one-point advantage in the polls. Unfortunately, polls are skewed. We don’t know the allegiance of the poll taker, how the questions are framed or what cross-section of the population is canvassed. We don’t know if any Hispanics were included in the poll. If they were, Reid is in deep trouble. The 27-year career politician could be headed for the historical boneyard of ousted special interest politicians.
Reid always has relied on the special interest of mining, gaming, unions and his convenient opposition to a nuclear waste depository housed in Nevada. Congress keeps spending money to develop the waste site, while Reid continues playing Nevadans on the issue to remain in office.
Currently, there are more than 100 nuclear energy plants in the United States. They produce more electricity than oil, they’re cleaner than coal and the source of power is limitless. It’s predicted that by 2050, more than 500 new nuclear plants will be installed in China, India and other locations in Asia. China also is helping Australia develop nuclear power. Even Iran is smart enough to see the future of clean nuclear energy and like their neighbors, the power of nuclear weapons. It seems that because of Reid’s stand in blocking the storage of nuclear waste in Nevada the rest of the world is passing us by.
But that might change if Sharron Angle and the Republicans win in November. Angle and her party might want to use the Yucca Mountain site for nuclear waste. It would generate millions for Nevada’s failing economy, allow for the expansion of new nuclear power plants, decrease our dependency on foreign oil, reduce dirty coal emissions and keep us in step with the rest of the industrial world.
If the majority of the moderate blue dog Democrats are defeated by noncompromising Republicans, the divisiveness in Washington, D.C. certainly will widen. But if Nevada’s yellow dog conservative Democrats and Republicans elect Sharron Angle, the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility could soon become a reality, instead of a political ploy to keep Sen. Harry Reid in office.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. The polemics of his articles can be discussed at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web site is www.thefarsidechronicles.com.