There’s an old story about the man who posted a classified ad in the newspaper about his missing dog: “LOST: Male dog, has one eye, mangled left ear, paralyzed hind leg, has been neutered. Answers to the name Lucky.”
Such a good story must have been made up, but it accurately applies to the Blue Dog Democrats, who aren’t even as lucky as Lucky. Neutered and rendered toothless in a party determined to drive off the mountain, the Blue Dogs are already all but extinct. In fact, you don’t even have to be a Blue Dog to be treated like one. Democrats are turning on each other in unexpected places.
Rep. Daniel Lapinski of Illinois, one of just three remaining pro-life Democrats in the House, in a party caucus of 193, is fighting for survival after seven terms representing the 3rd Congressional District of Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Marie Newman, a sometime advertising executive, community organizer and blogger against guns, teenage bullying and other stuff, is running against him in the March 20 party primary. Mrs. Newman relishes the pro-abortion litmus test that Nancy Pelosi warns her party against.
Mr. Lapinski is an unwelcome reminder to the liberal Democrats of Illinois of what their party used to be in the time when it represented the interests and values of middle-class America. He has challenged the party’s hard line on abortion and the malignant work of Planned Parenthood and its thriving business of selling body parts of dead babies. He opposed Obamacare and the Dream Act.
“He doesn’t have true Democratic values, and his record proves it,” says the president of the leading abortion political-action committee. “This isn’t some deep-red district. This district is solid blue. Yet Lapinski votes more like a right-wing Republican.” Two of Mr. Lapinski’s Chicago-area Democratic colleagues, Reps. Luis Gutierrez and Jan Schakowsky, have endorsed Mrs. Newman, who declares that “It’s time for a real Democrat.”
On the East Coast, Rep. Michael Capuano of Massachusetts faces a difficult primary, not because he’s against abortion but because he’s insufficiently liberal. The New York Times describes Mr. Capuano as “a down-the-line progressive,” who has twice voted to impeach President Trump, but that’s not good enough for Ayanna Pressley, a member of the Boston City Council and “a woman of color,” as she is called in the fashion of the day. Mrs. Pressley insists that her neighbors in the district once represented by John F. Kennedy and Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill “should demand an activist lawmaker who is more than just a ‘reliable vote.’” Embracing impeachment of the president, even when there is not yet any legal or constitutional basis for it, is not enough for a party that has sent the Blue Dogs the way of the passenger pigeon.
Even Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California is threatened, despite impeccable liberal credentials and a long career of distinguished service, first as mayor of San Francisco and then as a strong voice in the U.S. Senate. She faces a strong challenge from the left for not being sufficiently “progressive.” The state convention of California Democrats denied Mrs. Feinstein the party’s endorsement last month. The radicals on the left, of whom there is an ample supply in California, hold a long-standing grudge against Mrs. Feinstein for supporting the American intervention to depose Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and the 2001 tax cut proposed by President George W. Bush. Her challenger at the state Democratic convention, Kevin de Leon, the president pro-tem of the state Senate, didn’t get enough votes for an endorsement, either, and the two will face off in the primary in June.
For all the handwringing punditry about the lack of a big tent in the Republican Party, the smaller tent is on the Democratic side. There’s far more diversity of thought in the Grand Old Party, which tolerates, even if sometimes reluctantly, points of view dissenting from the majority sentiment. It’s Democrats who kicked out the poles holding up a big tent, silencing not only those who disagree from the conventional sentiment, but even those who agree 90 percent of the time.
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