The United States could have an instantly strong centrist party if Blue Dog Democrats and Main Street Republicans came together in a centrist party. This third party would ally with Democrats on some issues and Republicans on others. The United States does not need an either-or two-party system. The United States suffers increasingly for this system.
Many of Europe’s political parties were born of such party splits.
Heath Shuler’s recent intra-party challenge to Nancy Pelosi drew more interest than connoted by his 43 votes. We could add to that the 28 Blue Dog losses in this year’s House races. Comparable centrist Democratic Senators who might be interested include North Dakota’s Kent Conrad.
Of course, there aren’t many center-right Congressional Republicans any more. But if Blue Dog Dems led the way, a few of Congress’s less dogmatic Republicans might be enticed. Thirty-eight-year-old Shuler himself, a former star quarterback, would make an interesting party leader, but his pro-life stance would probably have soften.
In state legislative politics, many Democrats on the losing side in North Carolina and Georgia this year, and in other southern and Midwestern states, would be naturally curious about a Blue-Dog secession. So would East and West Coast independents and Republicans tired of Democratic domination of their state legislatures and Congressional delegations, such as the Moderate Party of Rhode Island.
Of course, elected officials tend to play it safe, and abandoning the party that got you elected in the first place is not a safe bet. But for many of these relative moderates, the alternative of a facing bienniel one-two punch isn’t pretty either — first from the party’s ideologically motivated in a primary election, and then from the opposing party in the general election. That’s why it might make the most sense to look to recently defeated Blue Dogs for such a third party. South Dakota’s young Stephanie Herseth Sandlin was chair of the Blue Dogs until her near loss this November.
So what do you say, Blue Dogs? How far left are you willing to go with national Democrats? Will you consider forming a third, centrist party?