The other day I posted a broadside in support of Sen. Maria Cantwell, accusing her critics of being a bunch of whiners and crybabies. Of course, what I got in return was a lot of whining and crying, accusing me of being a “machine Democrat” and a “Cantwell apologist.”
Yeah, whatever. What I am is a realist. Cantwell has been an outstanding senator on many issues, like the environment and energy (and the Bankruptcy bill, on which, contrary to critics’ claims, she actually voted nay), while on other issues… not so much. Yet I get the feeling that a lot of the people attacking Cantwell for her vote on say, Iraq, are also some of the same people who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. Well, hate to break it to you folks… but you are a lot more responsible for the Iraq war than Cantwell.
But my biggest complaint about the left-leaning, anti-Cantwell camp is how goddamn lazy they’ve been in championing an opponent. Mark Wilson? You gotta be nuts. You know, one of the objectives in politics happens to be winning.
Over on Eat the State, Geov Parrish also opines on subject, and his take is somewhat different from mine. Geov obviously doesn’t think much of Cantwell’s politics. But….
Progressives like to piss and moan a lot about being unrepresented in the political process, and that’s true. It’s also true that the deck is stacked against our participation in many different ways. But difficult is not impossible. It’s up to us to build the coalitions, energize the constituents, and field the campaigns that will win us respect and influence when it comes to impacting public policy. That means more than laying out critiques and alternatives and mounting protests and position papers and expecting the world to salute. It means organizing, and it means listening to others and incorporating their concerns and ideas, and it means packaging our issues and candidates attractively and organizing more, and then organizing again, and agsin, until the world is forced not to salute but to get the hell out of the way of the fast-moving train.
But have any of Cantwell’s hard-lefty critics actually bothered to do any of this hard work? Hell no! Instead, they just hitched their wagon to Wilson, an ex-Libertarian perennial candidate who for this election decided to toss out his Cato Institute Handbook in favor of some more liberal-sounding website prose. The guy’s a fringe candidate, and no amount of saying otherwise will change that.
If we want to start electing more progressive candidates to Congress, then we’re going to have to follow the lead of organizations like Progressive Majority of Washington, who are out there recruiting, training, and supporting progressive candidates at the local level, so we can build the farm team from which future political superstars will rise.
80 percent of first-time congressional candidates who win, have previously won elected office. So if we want a better shot at electing a strongly progressive US senator, then we’re going to have to elect more strongly progressive council members, commissioners, and state legislators.
But if you’re just going to sit back and complain about Cantwell, and then go support some dufus loser like Wilson, well… you’re not going to get any sympathy from me.
The reality in 2006 is that we desperately need to put more Democrats in the Senate… any Democrats. And any dissension in our ranks this late in the game only serves to help the Republicans.