Battlepanda: Feet to the fire


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Feet to the fire

Although we all like to do it, it is simply naive and futile to excoriate members of the senate for being craven and spineless beyond a certain point. After all, one does not get to their station in politics without a finely attuned sense of self-preservation. Instead of decrying this fact, lets work towards creating conditions so that progressive goals align with politicians' instincts for survival.

puts it well: "fear is the great motivator. If you want to change politics, win. Or at least scare the piss out of your opponent. Don’t appeal to reason or bipartisanship. Don't appeal to anything. Win." He backs up his point with several great examples, including that of Representative Heather Wilson, Republican chairman of the house intelligence sub-committee, who recently impressed me by speaking out against the President's NSA wiretap program. While I don't doubt Wilson's feelings on this matter is genuine, I'm sure that the fact she's from a swing district where standing up to the president might help her fend off a strong challenge from the Dem candidate facilitated her appearance on Olbermann yesterday. Again, Publius' words ring true: "without a credible fear of political death, it’s very hard to get politicians to do what you want them to do."

There are some very valid complaints that existing institutions puts obstacles in this process of responsiveness -- two-party politics, gerrymandering, the sheer amount of money in the system giving corporations and other wealthy sponsors an unhealthy edge...but hey, you go to the elections with the democracy you have, not the democracy you wish you have. From the vantage point of here-and-now, the strategy is clear -- in a close election, run a dem that is as close to the median voter as possible to present a credible threat to the Republican incumbant or to avoid losing the seat to a Republican challenger. Meanwhile, in safe blue districts, progressives should encourage upstart radical candidates to challenge Democrat-in-name-only candidates like Lieberman and Cuellar. The beauty of this is, even if we do not manage to unseat the Republican or the DINO, as long as we gave them a good scare we probably forced them to tack left to preserve their lead.

Money where mouth is, right? So here's where my $100 would go, or is going, I should say, because I'm breaking out the ol' checkbook: $25 to Ciro Rodriguez, challenging Cuellar (inspiration: Mike); $25 to Ned Lamont, challenging Lieberman (inspiration: Jesus' General's comment in the $100 challenge); $25 to Nick Lampson, challenging Tom Delay, who thought he had such a safe seat he gerrymandered to put more Democrats in his district. This was before his troubles started, of course. Sure would be sweet if Lampson kicked his ass (inspiration: the Drumstir, again via his response to the $100 challenge). Finally, $25 to USAction, pretty much because of this post by Mark Schmitt. I know a donation to a PAC seems to go against the strategy outlined in the post, but this paragraph by Mark sold me:
[T]he creativity and the intensity they have brought to the fight [against the budget bill], bringing grass-roots groups to members’ offices and blocking every attempt to evade responsibility. Above all, they prevented individual interest groups from being bought off with improvements to their particular piece of the legislation, and kept the focus on the legislation as a whole.
He was talking about the Emergency Campaign for America's Priorities, but USAction is the parent organization.

So, dear readers, where would your C-note go? Share in the comments. Bonus points for going beyond the hypothetical and actually dishing out the clams. But idle speculations also welcome.

[Update: Hmmm. Maybe my picks were not so sound. Neil the Ethical Werewolf reminds us in the comments that Lamont is pretty much self-financing his campaign, and Gene thinks that DeLay is doing so badly that Lampson probably doesn't need the extra sheikles...all FYI. Ciro Rodriguez still seem like a good guy to shower with your riches though.]