Letter to the editor: Blue Dogs will always be a powerful voice

Jul 21, 2011
In The News
by Congressman Jim Matheson (D-UT), Blue Dog Coalition

A recent Opinion piece by Rep. Pete Sessions, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, “The End of Blue Dog Democracy” (POLITICO, June 24), which was critical of members of the Blue Dog Coalition, illustrates the disconnect between Washington’s partisan politics and what most of the people in this country care about.

Here in Washington, an inside-the-Beltway focus dominated by partisan rhetoric and a relentless drive to score political points is normal. But it shouldn’t be. This acrid, divisive way of thinking is that of partisan hacks and party campaign committees. In the real world, people look at issues with an outside-the-Beltway view. They talk around kitchen tables and on the sidelines of soccer games and expect rational thinking and productivity from those they choose to govern.

The low public approval ratings of Congress tell us that most Americans don’t like the polarization and partisan bickering that dominate Washington. Yet Congress is becoming more ideologically fractured, with fewer moderates in both parties. This is another case of partisan leaders being out of touch with the public. Americans count on their elected officials to put our country’s interests first — and to work thoughtfully to solve problems and achieve progress.

We Blue Dogs have always prided ourselves on being a voice of reason, seeking ideas from all sides to do what is right for our country. We look beyond talking points, reach across the aisle to support good ideas and, at times, agree with our own party. We derive confidence and resolve about the important role we play from the fact that most Americans are seeking this type of behavior from their leaders.

Partisan attacks on the Blue Dogs are just that — party rhetoric aimed at picking up seats — and another example of the kind of message that doesn’t resonate outside the Beltway.

Blue Dogs lost some members in the 2010 wave election, but this is a reality of representing districts at the heart of U.S. politics. We consider it a privilege that the future of our country depends on control of the center.

The supply of Blue Dogs in Congress may have temporarily diminished, but the demand for our philosophy of governing has never been greater. As the only group in Congress willing to stand publicly as moderates, we are confident we will always be a powerful, constructive voice that most people outside the Beltway want among their elected officials.