Let me highly recommend Chris Hayes’ piece on Blue Dog Democrats. This is the coalition of House Democrats who have decided that "fiscal responsibility" is the highest virtue, where fiscal responsibility means preventing the government from spending more on anything but the military. (Military spending is fine — there was zero Blue Dog opposition to the war or to the perpetually increasing military budget.) In particular, it’s worth highlighting this key sentence:

"Where Blue Dogs have perhaps been most effective is in helping Republicans pass legislation and blocking or diluting progressive legislation."

Yes. You will hear lots more from and about the Blue Dogs when energy and climate legislation are debated later this year. The Blue Dogs will push to weaken the legislation and reduce the amount of investment in the green economy, not for any particularly coherent philosophical or substantive reason, but just because it gets them lots of corporate donations and media attention. As Ezra says:

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The Blue Dogs smartly hew to a form of elite centrism that assures them almost uniquely glowing press coverage. …

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Put another way: It doesn’t matter if you’re a centrist or a liberal. It only matters whether you’re perceived as a centrist or a liberal. And Blue Dogs have chosen to be ostentatiously and inconsistently heterodox on the issue that’s most visible to the perception-makers.

Preserving the status quo by preventing investment in alternatives is “centrist,” even when the status quo is leading the country to ruin. It’s all atmospherics, but the consequences for the atmosphere will be very real.