Thursday, October 04, 2007

I don't speak for Blue America, but I have been thinking about what I might say to the latest renegade who finds himself cut off from BA cash


Personal disclaimer: When it comes to Down With Tyranny's energetic participation in Blue America with partners FireDogLake, Crooks and Liars, and Digby, as far as DWT is concerned that's all Howie. I just view from the sidelines and occasionally cheerlead.

Sometimes it's ridiculously easy. You don't have to be a Ph.D.-ed political scientist to know that Maine Sen. Susan Collins, along with her fellow New England GOP "moderates," has made a mockery of the concept of "moderation." If these folks had had the guts to stand up and say, "No, we won't go along with this"--in other words, the guts their Vermont colleague Jim Jeffords actually had--who knows how differently the Bush regime's all-out assault on reason and decency might have played out? Instead they allowed themselves to function as Bush rubber-stampers, and Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee, having disgraced a proud family name, was rightly sent packing in 2006. (Was Chafee a fundamentally more decent human being than nearly all his Senate Republican colleagues? Sure, but so what?)

So it was exciting to discover via Blue America that something like the perfect candidate, Rep. Tom Allen, might be available--to learn, for example, that he has served in Congress over the exact same time period as Senator Collins, except of course in the House, where he has built up an actual record, one as positive as the incumbent senator's is negative. Tom threw his hat in the ring, and it has been exciting to watch the campaign--notably when progressive fund-raisers made the delicious discovery that active support for Senator Collins by her bosom buddy Connecticut Sen. "Holy Joe" Lieberman could actually be transformed directly into campaign cash for Tom Allen!

I hope no one forgets this race. It's almost a two-for-one: retiring an incumbent senator who has importantly misrepresented the interests of her constituents and of the country at large; and sending a superbly qualified new person (I think!) to the Senate--the very feat Rhode Island voters accomplished when they elected Sheldon Whitehouse to the Senate seat that Lincoln Chafee had wasted and dishonored.

So, Tom Allen for U.S. Senate!

Sorry, I kind of got carried away there. I should mention, though, that you can contribute to the Allen campaign on the Blue America '08 page, along with a lot of other candidates the tough BA screening committee has high hopes for.

From my sideline perch I know two things:

(1) The screening of candidates for possible Blue America support, and then the tireless effort to support the people chosen, consumes an enormous (and growing) amount of time and effort. I have a pretty good idea how much time and effort Howie for one puts into it, and I am filled with admiration.

(2) With success come new problems, including disappointments. This is built into the process. Human beings aren't machines. Just because candidates talk the talk while they're running doesn't mean they're going to walk the walk if they get elected. It's easy to get excited about a new candidate, and I think it's important to continue being able to be excited by new candidates. But the fact is, you simply don't know what they would do in office until they're in office. Which means disappointments are inevitable.

And plain disagreements as well. One complaint it's possible to hear, supposedly in support of such-and-such a politician's "independence," is that he/she doesn't want to be, in fact won't be, "dictated to." Which is silly. Blue America isn't "dictating" to anyone. We certainly understand that candidates may agree with our agenda on some points and disagree on others. What we don't understand is why those candidates think they should expect to raise money via Blue America.

Lately, in much the same way that you can expect any politican caught saying something self-evidently dopey to claim that he/she was "misquoted," or better still "quoted out of context," we are hearing that candidates who have disappointed Blue America hopes and expectations, and face being cut off from the modest cash infusions raised via BA, need to "explain their positions."

And they're always welcome to try.

What follows is strictly my take on this subject, and carries no official standing--with Blue America or anybody else who has such a thing as official standing. It is, more or less, as of right this moment and off the top of my head. But I'm thinking I might say to one of these candidates with a record of making statements and/or casting votes inimical to the core beliefs of Blue Americans:

We welcome open discussion. After all, that's one of the things being progressive is about. But we also have a set of beliefs: what we mean by the catch-all term "progressive." And so, Mr./Ms. Candidate, we are happy to have you clarify your position, as long as your idea of "discussion" isn't delivering unto us a set of canned "talking points"--and as long as you realize that the problem is as likely that you don't understand our position, or that you just don't agree with our position, as that we don't understand yours.

We don't wish you ill, and in fact hope you will beat back the almost certainly greater evil represented by your Republican opponent. But the contributions made by our donors mean too much to them, and are too precious to us, to be diverted to candidates who don't fit the mold of the "more and better Democrats" we are committed to helping in this election cycle.

It would be surprising, for example, if there's anything you can tell us about "the political realities"--whether it's in your home district (and I can vouch for the fact that Howie for one is exceedingly sensitive to the realities of particular districts) or in the District of Columbia--which we haven't heard at least several times too often. We have watched through this session of Congress as the Democratic "leadership" in both houses allowed themselves to be reduced to Bush-enabling figureheads, clinging all the while to their intimate knowledge of the "political realities."

The indications we see throughout the country are that voters right now are way ahead of their elected representatives in wanting some of those political realities changed. The big moneyed interests may not have come around to this view, and probably won't ever, but we don't represent the big moneyed interests. In our small way, we are trying to provide a counterweight to them.

For too long too many of us have grudgingly tolerated being offered Election Day choices between greater and lesser evils. There's no question that all too often it is necessary to make such choices. But that's not what Blue America is about.

We are committed to offering voters good choices. Right now that means prospective officeholders who will search out and support the earliest possible end to our toxic occupation of Iraq, while doing everything possible to prevent repetitions of this catastrophic involvement, and while supporting social and economic justice for all Americans, working toward the brightest and most hopeful future for all.

It is, as I said, a natural process for candidates we supported in the past to disappoint us. The way the process works, we try to learn from the mistakes and move on. There are people we supported who won and turned out to be everything we hoped they would be. There are people we supported who haven't won yet but still excite us, and we hope will continue to excite us once they do win. And then there are lots of people just entering the fray. We want to find the ones who are our kind of people and let them know that if they stick to their principles, we'll be there to support them.

It's not that complicated, really.

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At 6:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

xxooooxxxx to you K


At 6:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

from your post, K:

~~~And so, Mr./Ms. Candidate, we are happy to have you clarify your position, as long as your idea of "discussion" isn't delivering unto us a set of canned "talking points"--and as long as you realize that the problem is as likely that you don't understand our position, or that you just don't agree with our position, as that we don't understand yours.~~~

Thank you for spelling that out. As you know, I completely agree, though I did not say so before in quite such eloquent terms.



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