Wednesday, July 27, 2005



I don't feel like I'm special for realizing right from the get go what a lowlife George Bush was. It didn't take much to see this insular little hypocrite was a fraud with no clue. They used to ask of Nixon, "Would you buy a used car from this man?" I took one look at Bush and thought "If this guy became your stockbroker would you withdraw all your money and put it in the bank?" So I wound up voting for tepid, compromised corporate Democrats like Gore/Lieberman (I mean, be real, if someone's first crucial executive decision is to choose the most right-wing, uptight, Republican-lite Democrat on the national stage as vice president is he the best candidate progressives can find?) and Kerry. Forget for a minute that Lieberman represents almost EVERYTHING that makes Republicans unfit to govern and just let's look at Gore and Kerry. They were so nuanced and ran such execrable campaigns that no one knew exactly where they stood on anything! Did they even stand for ANYTHING? They made me sick. And how many Democrats sound just like them-- talking out of both sides of their mouths, trying not to offend anyone by not taking a principled stand on anything? That's why progressive activists went wild when Howard Dean showed up on the screen and why people still support him wholeheartedly even after the Right Wing smear machine has ripped him apart so mercilessly. (They're smart enough to see a real danger to their little status quo.) So wasn't I a happy camper when Dean's brother Jim turned me on to Paul Hackett, the guy running for Congress in the special election this Tuesday in Ohio!

Here's a guy who doesn't do nuance, at least not on the campaign trail. Where Kerry and Gore were out there ducking, bobbing and weaving, Hackett comes out swinging. When the campaign of the right-wing clone the Republicans have put up against him tried to "swift boat" the just-back-from-volunteering-in-Fallujah Marine colonel, this is what Hackett had to say about the Republican chicken hawks who scream about fighting, after having ducked military service (think Bush, Cheney, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, DeLay... all of 'em) and think it's fine for OUR kids to go over and get killed but whose own have..., like Cheney, "other priorities." According to Colonel Hackett, "All the chicken hawks back here who said, 'Oh, Iraq is talking bad about us. They're going to threaten us' -- look, if you really believe that, you leave your wife and three kids and go sign up for the Army or Marines and go over there and fight. Otherwise, shut your mouth." And that's what he did.

He looked at the issue square in the eye and took it on in a way anybody could understand. What about the Far Right's most divisive hot-button issue, the one they have been using most successfully to frighten working people into voting for them (and thereby for their policies that are so damaging to the vast majority of people who don't make millions of dollars a year)-- the "gay issue." With a viciously homophobic opponent who eagerly voted against gays' rights in the Ohio legislature, Hackett took this issue on in his typically forthright way. "Gay marriage -- who the hell cares?"
Hackett is married and has 3 kids and unlike half the GOP officials in Washington, isn't worried about hiding a secret life. He says he doesn't feel the need to defend his marriage through the national Defense of Marriage Act, or any other anti-gay marriage legislation. "If you're gay you're gay -- more power to you," he said. "What you want is to be treated fairly by the law and any American who doesn't think that should be the case is, frankly, un-American." More Democrats talking good common sense like this and we wouldn't be on the verge of a fascism in this country.


At 12:19 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...


Today on his awesome "Donkey Rising" site, Ruy Teixeia spotlights 3 IN THESE TIMES articles talking about strategies for progressives to win elections.

Matt Singer's "The Progressive Frontier: The governor of the Big Sky state has important lessons to teach Democrats across the nation" offers some lessons learned from the experience of Montana's rising star, Governor Brian Schweitzer. The Schweitzer story has been well-covered here and elsewhere, but Singer's article includes some fresh insights and pointers, such as:
Fight everywhere. Schweitzer didn’t write off the rural areas of Montana that have recently become Republican strongholds. He campaigned statewide, winning two counties typically lost by Democrats and narrowing the margin in dozens of others.
Fight back. When Schweitzer got “Swift Boated,” his campaign staffers didn’t sit silently. They hit back fast and hard. And in his first months in office, Schweitzer didn’t refrain from criticizing the president who received more votes than he did. He aggressively criticized Bush on a number of fronts. Now he’s more popular than the president among Montana voters.
Actions speak louder than words. Unlike other Democrats who revel in meta-analysis or theorizing over values, Schweitzer simply did it. Rather than saying he was a real Montanan, he talked about his homesteading ancestors. Rather than talking about reclaiming the flag, Schweitzer just did it—prominently on his Web site and on pens the campaign distributed.

ITT is also featuring U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky's speech to the recent Campaign for America's Future conference, entitled "Democratic Dos and Don'ts": Among Schakowsky's pointers:
Progressives and Democrats don’t need an extreme makeover. Far from it. We do not need to rethink our values and principles, rewrite our agenda or move to the “center.” Polls taken the day before the 2004 election as well as the day after tell us clearly that the Democrats are already where most Americans are on the issues and also on values...We do, in fact, represent the aspirations of the majority of Americans. what your mother said—or at least what my mother said—stand up straight. What people like least about progressives and Democrats is that they think we’re squishy. They think Bush is tough, knows what he believes and is willing to fight for it. Americans like tough, even when they don’t entirely agree with the substance. Voters like tough; voters don’t like tentative.
...Repeat, repeat, repeat...Republican repetition of the same talking points may irritate you, but it represents the level of discipline that we need if we ever expect average Americans to hear what we stand for and be able to articulate it in one declarative sentence.

In "The Case for a Democratic Marker," ITT's Christopher Hayes interviews Rick Perlstein, author of "The Stock Ticker and the Superjumbo: How the Democrats Can Once Again Become the Dominant Political Party." Perlstein's most salient point in the interview is the importance of consistency:
...a commitment that doesn’t waver adds value by the very fact of the commitment. The evidence is that even though the individual initiatives that make up the conservative project poll quite poorly, they’ve managed to succeed simply because everyone knows what the Republicans stand for. And the most profound exit poll finding in the last election had nothing to do with moral values, it was all the people who said that they disagreed with the Republicans on individual issues, but they voted for George W. Bush anyway because they knew what he stood for....there’s value just in making credible demonstrations of fortitude."

If there is a common theme to the advice presented in the three articles, it's that Dems have a lot to gain by emphasizing clarity, consistency and commitment --- not a bad formula for '06 campaigns and beyond.


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