Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Indiana Has A Congressional Candidate With An Extraordinary Record Of Accomplishment-- Meet Dan Canon


IN-09 stretches from the suburbs north of Louisville and The Ohio River-- New Albany, Clarksville, Jeffersonville-- north through Bloomington and Martinsville and into the suburbs south of Indianapolis like Greenwood, Needham and New Whiteland. There are 13 counties in the district, although most of the votes come out of Johnson (south of Indianapolis), Clark (across from Louisville) and Monroe (Bloomington). Before the 2010 gerrymander, it was a swing district that would regularly replace Republicans with Democrats and Democrats with Republicans. The Republican legislature redrew the district to make it far more difficult for Democrats to win. Baron Hill, a Republican-lite Blue Dog, was elected in 1998, lost in 2004, won again in 2006 and lost in 2010. It's been a GOP bastion since then.

McCain beat Obama in 2008 by about 20,000 votes-- 53-46% and then Romney beat him by about 50,000 votes 4 years later-- 57-41%. Last year Hillary got wiped out by Señor Trumpanzee-- 61-34%. Local Democrats do better than the national ones. In 2008 Baron Hill was reelected 181,281 (57.8%) to 120,529 (38.4%). In 2012 Democrat Shelli Yoder lost to Republican incumbent Todd Young 165,332 (55.4%) to 132,848 (44.6%) and last year Yoder tried again and ran considerably ahead of Clinton, still losing 54.1% to 40.5%.

Hillary was the wrong candidate for IN-09. Trump won every county but Monroe in the general. Earlier, Bernie beat her decisively in Monroe--15,166 (65.3%) to 8,063 (34.7%). Bernie also beat Trump decisively in Monroe that day-- 15,166 to 4,412. In fact Bernie took almost double what all the Republicans took in Monroe combined. Bernie also beat Hillary in Johnson, Brown, Lawrence, Morgan and Orange counties.

Local Democrats are determined to make sure IN-09 is competitive and next year Berniecrat Dan Canon, a prominent civil rights attorney, is vying for the nomination with university instructor Tom Pappas (another progressive) and two centrists, orthodontist Tod Curtis and DCCC recruit, a DC establishment attorney they dropped into the district last month for the race, Liz Watson. At Blue America we're excited about the prospect of Dan Canon taking on Republican rubber-stamp Trey Hollingsworth and we asked him to introduce himself with a guest post.

Honesty Is The Best Politics
-by Dan Canon

I'm a progressive. I don't try to hide it. I couldn't very well run from it if I wanted to. I've been a civil rights lawyer, fighting for people and causes, for more than a decade. Sometimes those people and causes have been unpopular, or at least controversial. In 2015, I represented couples who won marriage equality at the Supreme Court. I helped people get marriage licenses when a county clerk refused to issue them. I sued a presidential candidate for ordering a mob of white nationalists to attack peaceful protesters. I've represented drug addicts, murderers, victims, cops, activists, doctors, patients, teachers, students, refugees, and people from all walks of life who needed help. I don't want to run from any of that. I've written about it. I've talked about it. I've taught seminars on it. I'm proud of it.

On the other hand, I'm not proud of everything I've ever done, written, or said. I've had a real life. I dropped out of high school. I got married, divorced, and remarried. But when I decided to run for Congress here in my home state of Indiana, I wasn't thinking "how do I sweep my entire past, my entire career, everything I care about, under the rug?" or even "how can I make this look as perfect and polished as possible?"

A recurring theme that comes up talking to political strategists trying to figure out ways to be both authentic and inauthentic. Be yourself, but don't talk about progressive stuff. Make a genuine connection with people, but obscure what you believe in. Let people know who you are, but don't ever tell them you did that. A political neophyte, I have not been fully indoctrinated into this way of thinking. I'm trying to resist it. So far, it's working.

So of course, the question that comes up time and time again is: how in the hell are you going to win? I'm a progressive in a red state. In a state that went overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. In rural America. Sure, it's a swing district. But don't you have to play the safe, milquetoast centrist to win?

There's a fluid strategy involved in winning a race; a strategy which will surely change at least 100 times between now and November of 2018. But for now, I can tell how we will not win. Progressive politicians won't win in the heartland by running from tough conversations, or by betraying our principles, or by pretending to be something we are not.

In a nutshell, we'll win by being honest. That sounds simplistic-- naïve, even. But I believe it. I've lived in my district for more than 30 years. People in Indiana know when you're hiding something, and they don't like it. We need to know that we can trust an elected representative, and I intend to demonstrate that I can be trusted. I'm going to knock on lots of doors, and have lots of tough conversations. I'm going to show up whenever, wherever, however I can.

Beyond the visceral response provoked by honesty (or dishonesty), there's a perfectly practical reason to be as authentic as possible. It seems self-evident that we will never win an election on principles and policies if we can never convince anyone that our principles and policies are good. Until recently, we haven't even tried. The enormous success of Bernie Sanders (a self-proclaimed socialist who makes no effort to hide it) and Donald Trump (an unhinged fascist who makes no effort to hide it), should have been a wakeup call. People want something different. People want something real. And people want a bold way forward-- or maybe even backward, just so long as we are forging a path in some direction.

And yet, even after 2016, conventional beltway-insider wisdom suggests that we should run tepid, safe, opaque campaigns in order to try to please all the voters all the time. It doesn't work. We know it doesn't work. Why do we still do it?

No one agrees on everything. Acknowledging that up front goes a long way. The people I grew up with value honesty, integrity, and authenticity more than they care about specific policy points. I suspect this has always been true, but our political machines create political robots. And the Democratic robots this machine wants to make are ones that surgically avoid hot-button issues - even issues so commonsense as renewable energy, livable wages, fair taxation, or universal healthcare. The Republican robots, on the other hand, have boldly and successfully led working-class people to believe that they should sacrifice those things so that the rich may become infinitely richer. And so we persistently slide further to the right, the yawning chasm between the rich and the poor growing ever wider because no one is brave enough to talk about closing it.

  We have to do better than that. Even if it means we lose an election or two along the way, we have to take control of the conversation. We have to provide a way forward, we have to say that we are right, and we have to believe it. We won't win in the short run, and we cannot possibly win in the long run, if we don't.

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At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best nutshell summary I've read:

"We have to provide a way forward, we have to say that we are right, and we have to believe it. We won't win in the short run, and we cannot possibly win in the long run, if we don't."

Unfortunately, the party Dan Canon is running in/for does not believe any of it.

Dan may be a very good man. His chosen party is shit. I wonder how he reconciles this.

The quote would seem to indicate that a new party might be a better idea. If you not only want to win in the long run, but also do good in the long run, you'll never ever do it as part of the democrap cartel. As a democrap, you might see a win or two along the way, but you'll never be able to do any good.

Is that the mantra of all these new, good people? I just want to win and don't care that I'll never be able to do any good???


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