Here’s a really interesting interview with former Rep. Charlie Stenholm, who represented the Abilene-centered 17th District until it was redistricted into what is now the Lubbock-centered 19th in 2003. Stenholm was a founder of the Blue Dogs, and while there are things he says here I disagree with – he’s wrong about cap and trade, that’s for sure – there’s a lot that made me nod my head as well. Note this bit, which was highlighted by BOR:
Q. Blue Dogs have come under criticism for accepting contributions from that industry and then working to alter health care legislation, some think, by weakening the public health care option pushed by the administration. Do you think that criticism is deserved?
A: Let’s take political contributions out of our political system. If you can find a constitutional way to do that, I think it would be very, very positive. But right now, there is no constitutional way to remove contributions.
What I was quoted in many stories on is that it should not be a shock to anyone political contributions go to people who vote like the individual entity.
Business, labor union or any other organization that has a political action committee, they tend to support those who do vote their way most of the time. People do not contribute to people that vote against them.
Blue Dogs, as we started out talking about, they are the swing vote now on whether or not we’re going to pass center, right-of-center or left-of-center but close-to-the-center legislation on health care, on climate change, on energy policy, on agricultural policy, on health care policy, every policy.
So people and political action committees are contributing to Blue Dogs in the expectation that they will vote for something that is center, right of center and not too far left of center.
That’s a reasonable political expectation. And it’s all public.
And if Blue Dogs vote for the insurance industry to the detriment of the country or to the pharmaceutical industry to the detriment of the country or to the oil and gas interests to the detriment of the country, the people will judge them. And they will be unelected in 2010.
Mid-term elections for the party in power are always very interesting.
Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? If health care reform fails, either because enough Democrats get cold feet and join with the do-nothing Republicans, or because the final bill gets watered down enough that it doesn’t do anything to help the people that need it, then the members of Congress who will be affected the most at the ballot box are the Blue Dogs. It seems they recognize this, if Stenholm’s assessment is accurate, and that’s a positive sign. But again, it’s not just passing a bill, but passing a good bill that matters, and we don’t know yet how that will go. Anyway, it’s a good read, so check it out.