Could 2010 Bring An Independent Caucus In The Senate To 4?
We've seen enough of these 2 clowns
In 2006 I figured that one of the best ways progressive bloggers could be of service would be to help drum up some kind of challenge to Nebraska's arch-conservative Ben Nelson, a putative Democrat who has been voting with Republicans on substantive issues for years and years. According to ProgressivePunch Nelson has voted more frequently with Republicans on crucial votes, both this year and during his entire career, than any other Democrat. Worse yet, his current year's cumulative progressive score is actually closer to those of Republican senators like Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Arlen Specter than it is to any of the next most conservative Democrats, Evan Bayh, Blanche Lincoln and Max Baucus! But I couldn't find any allies who wanted to take on Baucus and the sensible decision was to try-- successfully, as it turned out-- to elect enough Democrats to win back the House and Senate. That year, with endorsements from anti-Choice groups, the NRA, the US Chamber of Commerce, the viciously anti-union BIPAC and all kind of groups that always back conservative Republicans, Nelson took 64% of his state's vote against a hapless Republican multimillionaire from Wall Street, Pete Ricketts, even winning votes from 42% of Nebraska Republican voters. Next time Nelson is up for a possible primary is 2012.
Last year I was gung ho to back races against conservative Democrats Mary Landrieu (LA) and Mark Pryor (AR). Instead the netroots yawned and got behind right-leaning Democrats like Kay Hagen (NC), Mark Begich (AK), Mark Udall (CO) and Mark Warner (VA). Next time any of them, despite atrocious voting records, can be held accountable is 2014.
This year Arkansas' corrupt corporate senior senator, Blanche Lincoln, is up for re-election-- and fairing increasingly badly in approval surveys. She has vowed to join the Republicans to filibuster the Employee Free Choice Act, she has come out against climate change legislation, and she has been a prime behind the scenes operator in replacing progressive initiatives in health care reform with the self-serving agenda drawn up by her generous campaign donors among CEOs and lobbyists from Big Insurance. This week, according to the Arkansas Times she told demonstrators at a health care town hall in Benton County that she opposes the public option because "We cannot afford it" and then went on citing Republican talking points prepared by Insurance Industry lobbyists about how the post office and Medicare are screwed up. Although Blue America has been running cable TV spots about her anti-health care positions few among progressive groups-- most of whom say they hate her-- are interested in helping. [If you'd like to, that link in the last sentence is the place to do it, by the way.]
Labor unions and progressive groups have scoured the state looking for a plausible Democrat to challenge Lincoln in a primary. More than a few Democratic office holders dislike her and abhor her corruption and her conservatism but, so far, no one has had the cajones. We've been talking with the Green Party candidate who drew 20% against Pryor last year and there's a chance she might do it. Far less plausible for progressives-- at least at first glance-- is Trevor Drown, an earnest and straight-talking former Green Beret who's never run for office and is mostly known for having spoken at a wingnut tea party. I called him up and asked him if he's a teabagger. He isn't. Nor is he a Republican-- and like many independents has very low regard for the GOP. He turned down Republicans asking him to run against Lincoln on their ticket. He's an independent-minded problem solver who is essentially non-partisan. If he's elected to the Senate, is he going to vote with the Democrats on key issues more frequently than Lincoln? Possibly, but I'm not fooling myself about the likelihood of Drown, though a union member (Teamsters) himself, turning into a Jeff Merkley or a Bernie Sanders. But I'll tell you what the differences are that I see between him and Lincoln:
1- he isn't corrupt and he won't have his head up the asses of every corporate CEO waving a check under his nose;
2- he genuinely cares about ordinary American working families and will look to put their interests ahead of the special interests;
3- no matter how he votes on issues, he won't be working behind the scenes to undermine progressives within the Democratic caucus-- since he won't be in the Democratic caucus;
4- no one trying to persuade him about the merits of a progressive stand on an issue is going to face a closed mind or a door closed to all but corporate donors.
At his new Dare To Make A Difference website, Drown a fascinating blog that bills itself as the philosophical third party opposition to the two-party system. They cover everything from the Working Families Party, the Socialist Party and even the Communist Party to the Conservative Party, the Libertarians and The Whigs and currently is covering the races of two independent former Republicans, Lincoln Chafee and Tim Cahill, respectively running credible campaigns for governor of, respectively, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I want to go in entirely different direction though: south-- from Arkansas. That would be Louisiana.
Louisiana's big election next year is the junior senator seat, currently held-- very tentatively-- by extremist Republican hack and hypocritical whore monger David Diapers Vitter. Democrats must be salivating at the prospect of knocking off a mindless obstructionist like Vitter and they appear to be putting up someone nearly as reactionary, corporate shill and Blue Dog, Charlie Melancon. An ice-cream man before getting into politics, Melancon boasts to his constituents that he's anti-choice, anti-gay and pro-gun. Republicans are so happy with him that they didn't even bother to run anyone against him last year, even though McCain took the district with 61%-- a significantly higher percentage than Bush won in 2000 or 2004.
I've been more interested in the independent race of adult film actress Stormy Daniels, which is probably not going to happen. This week, however, another Independent, one who sounds, in some ways, something like Trevor Drown, officially declared that he is running for the seat. Bob Lang is also a combat veteran and a strong defender of the Second Amendment. He doesn't seem nearly as open-minded about the issues facing the country and from what I can gather, this one really could be a teabagger.
"This country, in my opinion, is on the verge of a financial calamity and changing from a constitutional republic to a socialist/communist form of government. If the United States Congress and president continue to spend in such an insane manner and borrow at least half of everything we spend, that will be a guaranteed recipe for national suicide and nation failure.
Citizens who believe in a small and sovereign federal government, a strong sovereign state government and all of the power in the hands of the people have to come forward now to stop this out of control socialist train that is flying down the tracks at warp speed."
Like Drown he's a committed Christian but unlike Drown he's an anti-Choice fanatic and a xenophobe. I have a feeling he'd like to bring back the gold standard and he's running a campaign at least partially based on Vitter's moral failings: "I give you my word," he tells voters, "that I will not embarrass the citizens of Louisiana with immortal [though I think he means immoral] behavior while serving as your U.S. senator. I humbly ask for your vote on Nov. 2, 2010." Gee, I hope Stormy decides to run!