Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Consider this a comment left at Capitol Annex

I was reading Vince Leibowitz’s commentary entitled “National Targeting Of Texas Congressional Races: We Need To Make Peace With Our Moderates”. I know where he stands on this, and he knows where I stand. I’ve read all the arguments why we need to replace moderate and sometime-Republican-voting Democrats with progressive Democrats, and as a progressive Democrat (who can pull in my partisan claws when I have to) I would normally agree – run the rats out. But here is the crux of Vince’s argument, as I see it with regard to targeting Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo):
“…the bottom line has to be whether the voters of a particular district would be in better shape with a different Congressman and whether or not a more progressive” member could ultimately result in the seat being lost to a Republican. While the movement may believe CD 28 would be better off with more liberal representation, the folks in that district don’t think so, and we’re better off targeting other districts in a general rather than 'eating our own' in this district.”
I would like to add to this my thoughts and place them in a recent historical perspective. A good friend of mine, active in Texas politics since he was in diapers, was talking to me one day about his efforts as a Democratic progressive in the 70’s and 80’s. Back then, Democrats held safe majorities in Texas government. He and others in his movement sought to oust the moderate and Republican-leaning elements from the party, and he reports that they did “a pretty good job of it. So good that we ran them all to the Republican Party and we lost the majority.”

If we are to maintain a two-party system, and if Democrats are to maintain and build on their majority (or in the case of Texas, achieve one), then we must maintain a “big tent”. We must be tolerant of our Democrats who have different views on morality. We need to be mindful that our State Reps and State Senators may have a constituency whose demographics differ from ours and are not in keeping with our values and traditions.

Fragmentation and polarization, what Rep. Aaron Pena calls “uber-partisanship” (can you tell? I love that term!) will only serve to delay what I see as the inevitable retaking of Texas. Sure, we can call each other on things we don’t agree with. I am not particularly happy with my congressman’s recent machinations to bring $375 million of pork to his district by getting a bill killed that would have, in turn, killed Tom DeLay’s famous midnight amendment insertion. I called him on it, but it’s not going to make me join with a progressive group to put up a progressive Democrat against him in the ’08 Primary. A progressive Democrat is unelectable in CD 22.

And finally, to those who argue that by voting for Tom Craddick for Speaker, the 15 Craddick D’s doomed the state to 2 more years of regressive legislation, this: Democrats are a minority in both houses. Anything they want to get done must be done with the help of Republicans. Republicans don’t have to return the favor. If there is regressive legislation, don’t blame the Craddick D’s, blame the divisiveness in our own party that prevents us from getting electable Democrats on every ballot in every district.

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