This blog has been mostly dormant for the past two weeks, apart from when I woke it and pressed it into service last Thursday because of an article that inspired way more thoughts than a Facebook status could comfortably hold. Over Winter Break, I haven't been surfing my usual waves of bloggage either.
This Off the Kuff item from last Wednesday, however, got me thinking that I should post a follow-up to the piece about State House races. Democrats went 36 for 36 statewide in recruiting at least one candidate for Congressional races. Compare recent even-year elections:
A Question of Quality
Quality is just as important as quantity—and I'm saying this as someone who ran for office twice as part of the Texas Greens' "Occupy the Ballot" initiative, which had very little quality control (coughBrandonParmercoughcough). In his breakdown of District 3, my friend Chuck Kuffner somehow refrains from making light of how an old Texas political trick takes a new twist in 2018:
Yes, there is a Democratic candidate named Sam Johnson who is running to succeed the retiring Republican Congressman Sam Johnson. He’s not afraid to make the obvious jokes about it, for which he has my respect. This Sam Johnson is an attorney and UT graduate who lives in Plano.
One would hope that, with several contested primaries this March (egad, nine weeks from today!), quality will rise to the top rather than just whomever the state's Democratic donors anoint.
Any Progressives in the Bunch?
There is, of course, the additional dimension of progressivism. Chuck sprinkles in some blurbs about the various candidates in some could-win districts, but he provides no sense of how populist or progressive any of them might be—or, indeed, what positions they take on any issue. Perhaps that will come later. If I cared more about the fate of the Democratic Party in general, I might take the time to browse their websites or do whatever research might answer that question.
In the State Legislature, I could argue that Republicans are, by and large, so awful that Democrats make an acceptable alternative. With a few exceptions, our Democratic legislators and candidates for the Lege aren't obsessed with declaring war on women, LGBT folk, immigrants, and the poor. Foreign policy stands firmly outside its job description.
The US Congress is another matter entirely: Far too many Democrats, for far too long, have happily endorsed our nation's utterly immoral and lethal foreign and trade policies. Even allegedly progressive heroes like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have spoken and voted a pro-Israel line, because the Democratic Caucus and its AIPAC friends brook no opposition on the matter, as former Congressmember Cynthia McKinney has pointed out. Congressional Democrats may get their dander up over human rights violations in Syria, but atrocities and war crimes committed by our Middle Eastern allies are not worth the effort.
For principled Progressives, just having a (D) by your name isn't enough. Even saying the right progressive buzzwords isn't enough. (I'm looking at you, Rep. Beto "Health care is a human right" O'Rourke.) We want policy positions that will actually benefit the people, heal the planet, and promote true peace. It's a lot to ask, but we must have the audacity not only to ask it, but to demand it.