Wednesday, February 27, 2008

TOM PERRIELLO (D-VA) AND CONVICTION POLITICS

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There are several progressive Democrats running for the Senate and House who Blue America are looking into right now to see if any of them are the "right fit" for our endorsement. Several are in Virginia and one that we've been particularly excited about is the man running against corrupt reactionary Republican incumbent Virgil Goode, Jr. (who, oddly, has still not been indicted in the Wilkes bribery and corruption scandal, since he was certainly at the heart of it). But, as you know, we are looking for more than just a live, breathing Democrat to run against a corrupt and reactionary Republican when we hand out our endorsements. A couple of days ago I had another long and inspiring phone conversation with Tom Perriello. When we were finished talking I asked him if he'd do a post for DWT that laid out what he means when he talks, compellingly, about "conviction politics." I also asked him to clarify his position on choice since there seems to be some confusion about it in the netroots, though none whatsoever when he and I have been discussing it on the phone. Here's what he came up with:

When we stand on our principles, Democrats turn red districts blue. More importantly, we win with a real mandate to make people's lives better. I call this conviction politics, and I see it at the core of the victories by Tim Kaine and Jim Webb in my home state of Virginia. They shed the outdated and artificial political labels of right and left, which inevitably push our public debate toward a "triangulated" center. The press always struggled to label the Dems who won key races in 2005-2007, sometimes wrongly defaulting to the term moderates (which they most certainly were not). They were (and most still are) the kind of leaders that make voters say, "I may not agree with her/him on everything, but I sure know where s/he stands." And they made me believe I could run the kind of campaign that is worth running-- and win.

As I travel around my district in central and Southside Virginia, I find people are hungry for a new generation of politics that focuses on promoting the common good. Issues like torture and wiretapping, corporate accountability and living wages, and universal health care should not be policies of right or left, but questions of right or wrong. These are questions of whether we fundamentally believe we are in this together and should have our neighbor's back.

I am running against Virgil Goode, whose inflammatory remarks about Muslims and immigrants occasionally make the Daily Show highlights. And I am going to win by offering a real progressive alternative and calling out in no uncertain terms why Goode and Bush make America less safe, make our jobs less secure, and simply don't get the world we live in. This is not just about getting universal health care. It is about restoring a culture that is built on the principle that I am better off when my neighbor has health insurance.

We would not be having this debate or witnessing this tidal change if it were not for the netroots. My previous work involved taking people-powered politics to a global level by helping to launch Avaaz.org, an online advocacy community with 2 million members from around the world that operates in 13 languages. I have also seen the power of online members to support my work inside Darfur with rebel groups that no foundation would dare to fund. I was part of FaithfulAmerica.org that helped to bring together moderate and progressive people of faith around issues of economic fairness, health care, and environmental stewardship. This community has transformed the rules of our politics and expanded our sense of what is possible.

Confusion ...[about] my position on abortion may stem either from my public association with Catholicism as co-founder of the progressive Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good or from being badly misquoted in a New York Times article following the 2004 election. I firmly believe that abortion should not be criminalized, nor can we allow any action that seeks to coerce women by reducing access to care or making the process less safe.

I also believe that progressives need to move from defense to offense on this issue. Like NARAL and most Americans, I believe we can and must do something to reduce the 1.2 million abortions performed in this country each year. That is why I have been part of the coalition that worked with Reps. Rosa DeLauro and Tim Ryan on designing legislation known as the Reducing the Need for Abortions and Supporting Parents Act (H.R. 1074). The legislation targets the root causes most often cited for making the painful choice to abort a pregnancy. It includes prevention provisions (e.g. access to contraception and family planning, funding for programs to prevent teen pregnancy) and support provisions (e.g. increase of pre- and post-natal and pediatric health care, child care assistance, domestic violence prevention programs, Job Corps Child Centers).

In a different context, this abortion reduction package might be seen as a laundry list of "liberal Democratic priorities," but framing the issue in this manner helped get much of this bill enacted into law as part of the recent Appropriations omnibus. It has also given Democrats a powerful tool to blunt attacks by Republicans, call them on their "culture of life" hypocrisy, and re-engage some faith voters. I have worked on and marched for women's rights in a number of countries, and I have always been inspired to see the ways in which gender issues are a gateway through which to understand the deepest injustices in our society. Shifting the debate from the far right's terms to ones of empowering women through better economic and health policies is just one part of reclaiming the debate about justice in our society.

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8 Comments:

At 10:27 AM, Anonymous JCos said...

"Issues like torture and wiretapping, corporate accountability and living wages, and universal health care should not be policies of right or left, but questions of right or wrong."

Absolutely! It's about time someone stood up to Goode's policies which hurt his very constituents. Tom is just the type of articulate and inspiring candidate Blue America needs to rally around.

 
At 10:59 AM, Blogger Teddy said...

Virgil Goode is an embarrassment to Virginia and America.

When is Tom Perriello coming for a Blue America chat? He sounds like just the kind of Democrat we're looking for.

 
At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom is the kind of guy that can transform the frame of our political debate in America. He's running in one of the toughest districts in VA against one of the biggest blow hards in the country. We have to support guys like Tom to demonstrate that the political rules are changing in America. Conviction politics works If anyone can do, Tom can.

 
At 12:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Y'all should see his resume... from Yale Law grad to dangerous work in Africa promoting peace in some of the most nakedly brutal conflicts that ever defiled the planet. Check out his website - look at the pictures. This guy gets things done - he's the real thing.

 
At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Megaman_X said...

Should Blue America endorse Al Franken? Martin Heinrich? Tom Udall? Well, actually I think Udall will do just fine without our help. Just thought I'd bring other ideas for endorsements to the table.

 
At 4:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This guy is pathetic if thinks people will buy his intention to reduce abortion by being aligned with NARAL. That's the National Abortion Rights Action League. That bill that he advocates for reducing abortions has no scientific data backing it up. Ironically, there hasn't been a single study showing that increased access to contraceptives reduces abortion. It just makes better abortion clients.

 
At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah I got some questions?
What does Tom Plan on doing about Health Care? For Example: Prescription Drug benefits, health care for low incomes families, medicare. And also Social Issues. Abortion, affirmative actions, death penalty, gay marriage, gun control, and poverty?

 
At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand the statement:
"call them on their 'culture of life' hypocrisy"

The debate is about whether not abortions kill human life. so you can support a lack of abortions and a "culture of life" without being hypocritical if you believe abortions kill human life... right?

 

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