The Curse of Having Popular Opinions

– posted by thehim

Eric Earling puts on the concern troll hat and shares some thoughts on the Darcy Burner – Rodney Tom primary contest:

Keep an eye on a couple dynamics in the budding primary between Darcy Burner and Rodney Tom to take on Dave Reichert in 2008.

I haven’t said anything about this primary yet, but I might as well divulge where I’m at on this since I’ll be moving into the district shortly and plan to be quite involved in the effort to unseat Congressman Drebin next year.  I know Darcy personally and strongly supported her in 2006.  I’m impressed by her enthusiasm, her intelligence, and her work ethic.  That said, primary challenges are always good for a party and good for the candidates themselves.  And as someone who wasn’t much of a partisan until recently, though, the sniping about how Tom isn’t a pure Democrat actually rubs me the wrong way.  But if I had to cast my vote today, it would still be for Darcy. 

A couple different conversations I’ve had in recent months with Democrats possessing particular insight on this race confirmed my thinking:

1) Darcy Burner’s campaign actually did a pretty good job of hiding how liberal she actually is during the 2006 cycle.

As someone who knows Darcy personally, I’m not sure where the hell Earling is coming from on this.  Darcy is someone who has worked in the private sector and believes that capitalism should drive our economy.  She has a concealed weapons permit and enlisted in the Civil Air Patrol when she was a teenager.  As a war opponent, she’s in agreement with 62% of the country in believing that the war was a mistake.  I guess I’ll leave this open for Earling to provide me the position that Darcy’s taken that too liberal for the voters of the 8th district. 

If you paid close attention to her campaign rhetoric and some interviews you could catch the fact she fits right into the netroots.

There’s a reason for that.  The netroots on the left are outraged at how poorly the Bush Administration has done at running the country.  Darcy shares that sentiment.  65% of the country shares that sentiment.  If there’s anything notable about the netroots it’s that they seem to be at the forefront of these trends.  There’s a reason for that, and it’s the same reason why Wikipedia works and why open source software works.  People who are very motivated to find the truth, when collaborating online, can do the kind of oversight of both the media and our government that has never been done before.  They figured out how corrupt this administration was long before the traditional media or the general American public did.

But her campaign did a good job of keeping her on message, for what that was worth.

I personally think her campaign was overly cautious.  I’m hoping they don’t make that same mistake again.  Voters in the 8th are fed up with Washington, but like a lot of conservative leaning districts, don’t entirely trust Democrats either.  The onus is on Darcy not to hide her views, but to be confident in them.  Being cautious only plays into the stereotypes that hurt candidates like her in districts like the 8th.

What will happen now that it’s to her advantage to proclaim her liberal, progressive bona fides in order to win a primary?

I think it may be the best thing to happen to her.

In 2006 Reichert ran on his own record and against her lack of experience as well as against her position on taxes (one of the few topics about which she actually spilled the liberal beans).

And as David Postman explained here last October, Burner’s position on taxes was actually misrepresented by Reichert.    

What happens when she proudly proclaims her position on health care, foreign affairs, etc. to secure her left flank in the primary season?

What the fuck is he talking about?  Majorities of Americans, let alone Democrats, agree with Darcy on both health care and the war in Iraq.  Is Earling really that out of touch that he thinks otherwise?

What kind of ammunition will that provide for November 2008?

Probably enough to send Reichert home.

2) Rodney Tom always struck me as overly sensitive in dealing with the Republican grassroots, uncomfortable with the how activists demand purity even as the party still exists as a relatively loose coalition.

The Republican Party hasn’t been a “relatively loose coalition” as much as it’s been an abusive relationship.  The power brokers who run the party for the benefit of their own bottom lines were able to swindle the religious right until the Terri Schiavo mess and all the gay bashing alienated everyone else in the country.  And they managed to drag along the xenophobes until the subject of illegal immigration got between them.  But through it all, only one small faction of the party was getting what they wanted.  The rest were just suckers along for the ride.

It’s not as if that dynamic will change on the other side of the aisle.

It certainly could happen, but it’s not happening right now.  There isn’t one faction of the Democratic Party that has the same relationship to the rest of the party that the Wall Street contingency of the Republican Party had.  And as a more libertarian-leaning Democrat, I won’t be around much longer if the power brokers of the Democratic Party decide to pander to the religious right in the same way that Republicans did.

In fact it gets worse running for Congress rather than state office. The oaths of fealty interest groups on both sides demand are more substantial on issues dealt with in Washington, DC than with those handled in Olympia.

Interest groups?  The primary interest group supporting Democrats these days is the average citizen.  Look at how Darcy has been raising her money.  She’s not a mouthpiece for the pharmaceutical industry or Halliburton.  Her interest groups are motivated by something other than profits.  There’s nothing wrong with being motivated by profits when it comes to doing business, but I like to think we’ve gotten a little smarter about allowing our government to be so profit-driven. 

How is Rodney Tom, the raging moderate, going to appease the left-leaning interest groups that remain important for a Democratic primary?

OK, I’m going to smack down this annoyance right now before the misuse of the word ‘moderate’ gets out of hand.  A moderate is not necessarily a centrist.  A moderate is the opposite of an extremist.  When you have two sides in a debate, and one side sees everything in black and white and the other side sees things in shades of gray.  A moderate isn’t the one who stands inbetween those two positions.  A moderate is the one who sees things in shades of gray

What has happened in this country is that the Republican Party, through its attempts to rally its base through fear-mongering and partisanship has become an extremist party rather than a conservative one.  It will likely not be this way forever, but it is right now, and that’s a big part of why it’s so unpopular.  But the people who’ve remained loyal have been trained to believe in an authoritarian, black and white mindset.  They are the extremists.  The people who are motivated to fight against them might certainly be liberals, but they’re also moderates.  Both Burner and Tom are moderates, even if Burner may be more liberal than Tom, and it’s not correct to simply say that Tom is more moderate because he was once a Republican.  David Horowitz was once a Democrat, and he’s the least moderate person on Earth. 

What is true is that Dave Reichert, by virtue of supporting much of the authoritarian nonsense that the Bush Administration has been shovelling for the past 6 years, is certainly less moderate than both Burner and Tom.

It’s not as if such groups are thrilled with the current Democratic majority and are going to want to infuse more moderation into the mix.

I actually won’t write off Rodney Tom like that.  If he wants our vote, he can tell us what distinguishes him from Burner.  I’m looking forward to democracy happening, and I’m looking forward to casting my vote in November 2008 for either one of them.

5 Responses to “The Curse of Having Popular Opinions”

  1. Paddy Mac says:

    ‘The Republican Party hasn’t been a “relatively loose coalition” as much as it’s been an abusive relationship. The power brokers who run the party for the benefit of their own bottom lines were able to swindle the religious right until the Terri Schiavo mess and all the gay bashing alienated everyone else in the country. And they managed to drag along the xenophobes until the subject of illegal immigration got between them. But through it all, only one small faction of the party was getting what they wanted. The rest were just suckers along for the ride.’

    Thank you! That is the best distillation of what’s wrong with our current politics. The first vote I ever cast was for a Republican Member of Congress. She believed in reasonable taxes to support good education and an effective military. She believed that government has no role in our private lives. She’s since been replaced by a Bible-banging zealot who will not question this Administration, no matter what. I dislike one-party rule, but until we have a valid party to choose, not the entity fitting your description, I will not vote Republican.

  2. thehim says:

    My memory may be fuzzy, but I think the first major ticket candidate I ever voted for was Tom Ridge, when he ran for PA governor.

  3. michael says:

    Yeah, what Paddy Mac said!

  4. Thehim says:

    I am a “liberal conservative”, get it?

    I certainly do. Thanks.

  5. MK says:

    Couldn’t disagree more. I live in the 8th and have for a long time. Rodney Tom is a far better candidiate in the 8th and resonates with voters like me…moderate and unaligned with a party. he speaks the best to the issues of the 8th. Darcy Burner can improve her campaigning from 2006 all she wants, her experience level will still be zero.