Monday, February 05, 2007

To Primary or Not to Primary, That is the Obsession

As I flip through the Texas progressivist blogs on a daily basis, I occasionally encounter one of my fellow progressive Democrats gnashing their teeth over the traitorous votes of Democrats who are “Too Close to Craddick”, or “Craddick D’s” or “The Iscariot Caucus”.

I think that I am detecting something akin to obsession. Obsession and forgetting about the fact that the Democratic Party is truly a big tent party. There is more racial and cultural diversity in this party than in the Republic Party. Surely there must be more diversity in ideologies as well.

Bill Clinton said it best: “Democrats want to fall in love, Republicans want to fall in line.” Democrats want to embrace the totality of a state representative’s votes, and if those votes fall short of their expectations – which are somewhere in the neighborhood of 100% - they need to be “primaried”.

They need to be challenged in the 2008 Democratic primary, and challenged hard with PAC money to replace them on the ballot with a Democrat who is more of the stripe and carries the ideologies of the progressive wing.

I challenge this obsession on 2 fronts:

First, the obsession does not take into account the make-up of the district the representative comes from. Will replacing the candidate with a more liberal candidate result in alienation of the electorate who will vote for the Republican challenger? Will the campaign to replace the representative on the ballot be a hopelessly lost cause resulting in a waste of time, money and resources that could be better spent defeating Republicans?

Second, by not acknowledging that we, all of us Democrats, need to find a way to get along in this big tent of ours, we invite fractionation of the party with moderate elements, chased out by progressives, winding up in the warm embrace of the Republican Party. It has happened before. Progressives were so skilled at chasing out the moderate elements of the party during the 80’s and 90’s that Democrats eventually lost their majority (albeit helped along with DeLay’s PAC money – which served to tip a close balance to the other side).

I know, this isn’t the first time I have posted on this issue. I’ve posted on it here, here, here and here. This probably isn’t the last time I will bring this up either. I’m bringing it up now because of the BOR posting which I was not excited to see, and highly disagree with it. I am also bringing it up again because I want to send a high five to Vince at Capitol Annex who put up a simply marvelous discussion of this issue once more. He really nailed it this time. Especially that last bit about Villarreal. Bingo.

So is this idea of “primarying” a legislator because they strayed from the progressive fold a couple of times truly obsessive behavior? Do obsessives have difficulty seeing the other side of things? Yes. Can obsessives find compromise on issues? No. Do obsessives act from deeply held beliefs that they will never compromise? Obviously.

Do obsessives win elections?

Only when they have all the guns.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Hal - there is no reasoning with the obsessives. Once again, they back you into a wall by arguing philosophy over practicality. Yes, of course, all Democrats should vote 100% with all the other Democrats. However, in the real world.

They want to defeat Democrats in districts where the Democratic population may support the straying vote.

I noticed that the BOR page is done by a pro-bono consultant. Pro bono, my patootie! The more primary races there are, the better his chance of getting work.

We lost control of democracy when it became a "paid" job. But, that's a whole 'nother rant.