U.S. Representative Dan Boren, from the 2nd congressional district of Oklahoma, is announcing today that he does not intend to run for re-election. Boren is a Democrat, and so, from a certain perspective, his decision not to use the power of his incumbency to keep a hold on the 2nd district seat might be seen as a loss for the Democratic Party.
If the Democratic Party is seen as an institution with the purpose of maintaining and extending power for itself, the retirement of Dan Boren is indeed a loss. If, however, the Democratic Party is seen as a social force that can oppose the right wing agenda of the Republican Party, Dan Boren isn’t much of a loss at all.
As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Dan Boren has worked with the Republicans much more than he has worked with Democratic liberals. For the current session of Congress, Boren has a liberal legislative score of 17 out of 100, but a conservative legislative score of 54 out of 100. On issues of reproductive rights, the environment, military waste and civil liberties, Boren has stood against the values held by most Democratic voters.
In a political era dominated by Barack Obama’s push of the Democratic Party far to the right, the departure of Congressman Boren can be seen as one part of a broader opportunity for Democrats to distance their party from the Republican-friendly politics of the Blue Dog Coalition, to which Boren belonged.