In 1992, Latinos and Asians made up only 3% of the national electorate. That year, Bill Clinton won the combined Latinos and Asian vote by a margin of 51%-35%, with the rest choosing Ross Perot. By 2006, Latinos and Asians combined to make up 10% of the national electorate, and Democrats won that vote by the much larger margin of 68%-31%. That shift, in and of itself, moved the entire national electorate more than 3% in favor of Democrats nationwide in just 14 years. Few things can cause such a rapid, nearly permanent structural shift in the electorate in favor of one party, but Republican demonization of a rapidly growing sector of the electorate has certainly done the trick.
So, what Democrats would be willing to throw away these gains, and put unfounded, short-term fears of an electoral backlash against immigration ahead of them? Not the Bush Dogs, who are Democrats that support Bush's agenda, since Bush actually isn't as hard-right on immigration as the rest of his party (perhaps the only instance where he isn't as hard-right). Under long-term advisement from Karl Rove on the subject, Bush knows that alienating a rapidly growing segment of the electorate is a bad idea for the Republican Party. So, instead of calling them Bush Dogs, I think the more appropriate term would be Rove Dogs. The term "Rove Dog" should apply to any Democrat who votes and act in ways that are harmful to the long-term political standing of the Democratic Party, just as Karl Rove would like them to do.
And viola, here we have a major piece of legislation where Rove Dogs are revealing themselves:
North Carolina Democrat Heath Shuler 's new immigration-enforcement bill, cheered by immigration hard-liners and jeered by Hispanic lawmakers, now faces a major roadblock: Rep. Loretta Sanchez , who chairs the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism.
Sanchez says Shuler, a former pro football player, made a rookie mistake by not consulting with her before he introduced the bill, which is deepening an existing rift between politically vulnerable centrist Democrats and Hispanic members. Homeland Security is one of eight committees to which the bill was referred, but the panel has the lead in dealing with it.
"I would say Heath better come talk to me about it," Sanchez, a California Democrat, told CQ Politics.
A good way to know that this bill will anger Latinos and other groups with large immigrant populations is when Loretta Sanchez, who is actually a Blue Dog herself, objects to it. Here is a list of the Democratic co-sponsors of the bill, and thus also the initial list of Rove Dogs (Bush Dogs in bold, freshman in italics):
(Ala.) Rep. Cramer, (Ala.) Rep. Davis, (Ark.) Rep. Berry, (Ark.) Rep. Ross, (Calif.) Rep. McNerny, (Colo.) Rep. Perlmutter, (Colo.) Rep. Udall, (Fla.) - Rep. Boyd, (Ga.) Rep. Barrow, (Ga.) Rep. Bishop, (Ga.) Rep. Marshall, (Ill.) Rep. Bean, (Ind.) Rep. Donnelly, (Ind.) Rep. Ellsworth, (Ind.) Rep. Hill, (Iowa) Rep. Boswell, (Kan.) Rep. Boyda, (La.) Rep. Melancon, (Mich.) - Rep. Stupak, (Miss.) - Rep. Taylor, (N.H.) - Rep. Hodes, (N.Y.) - Rep. Arcuri, (N.Y.) - Rep. Gillibrand, (N.Y.) - Rep. Higgins, (N.C.) - Rep. McIntyre, (N.C.) - Rep. Shuler *, (Ohio) - Rep. Ryan, (Ohio) - Rep. Space, (Okla.) - Rep. Boren, (Pa.) - Rep. Altmire, (Pa.) - Rep. Carney, (Pa.) - Rep. Holden, (Pa.) - Rep. Kanjorski, (Pa.) - Rep. Murphy, (Pa.) - Rep. Murtha, (Tenn.) - Rep. Cooper, (Tenn.) - Rep. Davis, (Tenn.) - Rep. Gordon, (Tenn.) - Rep. Tanner, (Texas) - Rep. Lampson, (Texas) - Rep. Rodriguez, (Va.) - Rep. Boucher, (Wash.) - Rep. Baird, (honorary Bush Dog), (Wis.) Rep. Kagen
Twenty-three of the forty-four Rove Dogs are also Bush Dogs, while seventeen are freshman (more than half of our freshman who took over Republican held seats). They also include key members of the leadership, such as both Murtha and Rahm Emanuel, who isn't on this list but who is pushing for the bill behind the scenes. In the Senate, at least Barbara Mikulski is also in favor of this bill, and is urging members to vote for it..
These Rove Dogs are undermining positive feedback loops for Democrats and progressives, and any other Democrats who do the same should also earn the Rove Dog label. Given that this vote is called the "SAVE act" here are some other good bills for Heath Shuler and the Rove Dogs to propose that might piss off key members of the Democratic base:
- The Save America's Management Act that abolishes collective bargaining rights. Because it would be a good idea for Democrats to eliminate unions, since their members only vote for Democrats 68% of the time
- The Save America's Erogenous Zones Act that makes homosexuality a crime punishable by imprisonment. Because it would be a good idea for Democrats to alienate the LGBT population, since they only vote for Democrats 75% of the time.
- The Save America's Theocracy Act that requires all citizens to declare Jesus Christ as their savior. Since it would be a good idea for Democrats to alienate non-Christians, since they only represent a growing 14% of the electorate, and vote for Democrats 74% of the time.
Let me close with a question: if someone is both a Bush Dog, and thus undermining the Democratic legislative agenda while abetting the conservative working majority, and a Rove Dog, and thus undermining the long-term potential for Democrats to be elected to office, is it actually a benefit to Democrats to have that person in office? It seems quite possible to me that it is not. If someone's presence in Congress is making it both more difficult for Democrats to pass legislation now, and more difficult to elect Democrats in the future, then such a person seems to be actively undermining Democrats at every turn. Now, with 23 members of Congress fitting this category, at least right now our majority narrowly depends on keeping at least one-third of them in office, at least right now. After we get some more seats in 2008 that probably won't be the case anymore, but right now Democrats need the Rove Dogs who are also Bush Dogs in order to maintain their majority. So, overall, yeah, I guess we do need them.
But let's focus on one person for now, Heath Shuler, who actually is the lead sponsor of this bill along with, of all people, cultural supremacist Tom Tancredo. A smaller Democratic majority that did not have Heath Shuler, and not propose legislation that angers key elements of our base seems as though it would be more effective for long-term Democratic electoral hopes. This should be obvious, since one seat in Congress is far, far less important to Democrats than maintaining a massive advantage within the growing Latino and Asian vote over the long term. It's not even close. And so, while I would certainly never advocate for a Republican to defeat Heath Shuler, I think it can be easily and accurately argued that, as a simple matter of priorities for the Democratic Party, defeating this bill is more important than Heath Shuler's re-election. In a hypothetical scenario where we only have enough resources to accomplish one of these goals, defeating the bill wins over Shuler's re-election every single time. Keeping the positive feedback loops for Democrats and progressive intact is more important than one seat in Congress, or even really a handful of seats in Congress.
Welcome to the scene Rove Dogs. I'll be monitoring your progress as time goes on. One vote isn't enough to make a strict definition, a strict definition, but another move like this and a solid list can be produced. (Oh, and has Ciro Rodriquez sucked in the new Congress, or what? I mean a freshman Latino who is both a Bush Dog and a Rove Dog? Good lord.)