Hey Democrat Matheson haters? I know you’re angry. I understand it. No really, I do. You don’t like it that he won’t support your pet issues like the current healthcare bill, overturning DOMA, and the FISA junk. (Believe it or not, I’m with you on the last one.) That said, do you really think you’ll be better off if you take him down in the convention or a primary? Not bloody likely.
Here’s the reality: Jim lives in a district that contains a lot of Republicans and independents. By most accounts, he shouldn’t even still be in elected office. Remember that narrow victory of 1600 votes back in 2002? Given how badly gerrymandered his district is, it’s a wonder he’s still there. Since then, he’s widened his lead to 28 points in the most recent election. Given that a Republican should hold a 15-point advantage, that’s quite a feat.
So what, then, would you hope to accomplish by putting a more liberal candidate into the general election? Anyone you put in Matheson’s place that isn’t about as conservative as he is would get creamed in the general election. It also sends a message that moderates and conservatives had better get the heck out of your party or you’ll force them out. As Ethan pointed out so well, it’s hypocritical to demonize Republicans for demanding acquiescence to the party line when you’re all too willing to to it yourself.
I’m not saying you have to love Matheson or excuse him when he doesn’t vote your way. I’ve happily voted for another candidate when I thought they were better-suited to the task. But you have to ask yourself a simple question: is it more important to have the seat in your camp or feel good about pushing out anyone who doesn’t push the party line? You can’t have both.