Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Cliff Schecter Gets It
Cliff Schecter explains how progressives are winning races in Republican areas -- namely, by being populist and having the guts to stand for something:
Tom Schaller, a political science professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, writes in his new book, Whistling Past Dixie, that Democrats can win outside of the South by “planting a flag,” or standing firm on economic issues important to working and middle class voters. “These areas are filled with a large percentage of Catholic swing-voters, and there is not that ‘racial trigger’ of their being in proximity to African-Americans like in the Deep South,” he writes, “and the evangelism is more muted. Democrats can win many of these voters back if they differentiate themselves from Republicans on economic issues.” [...] Two Democrats who are doing their best to make this a reality are challengers Mike Arcuri, whose district in is located around the Utica area of New York and John Yarmuth, whose Kentucky district surrounds Louisville—a metropolitan area that’s seen many jobs shipped overseas. Arcuri, the District Attorney of Oneida County, has run on campaign themes that Democrats should pay attention to: his background as a tough-on-crime prosecutor (think anti-corruption) and his opposition to lower middle-class taxes. His commercials hammer his opponent, state Sen. Randy Meier, who never met a middle-class tax he wouldn’t raise in order to give a tax break to investment bankers. Yarmuth, a local entrepreneur and columnist for Louisville’s alternative newspaper The Leo, points out that the incumbent in Kentucky’s 3rd District, Anne Northup, has on numerous occasions called outsourcing “a good thing.” She also apparently had better things to do than fly to Detroit with Louisville’s mayor and the governor of Kentucky to convince Ford to keep a truck plant in the area. (Once they succeeded, of course, she took credit for it.) Yarmuth calls for “putting the government back on the side of working people” by not taking campaign contributions from “any industry” and stopping jobs from being shipped abroad. These two candidates address other salient issues, such as Northup’s too-many-to-count claims of a definitive connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda, and Randy Meier’s extremism on social issues, including his opposition to stem-cell research. But economic populism is the backbone of their races, with anti-corruption thrown in for good measure. Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, points out that there are many older “Roosevelt and Truman Democrats in this region who have voted Republican since Reagan, but would like to vote for Democrats if they wear the mantle of a leader, and are authentic in both their persona and economic stands.” Democrats nationally must learn from this approach and dump Democratic Leadership Council dogma if they’re to regain majority status—not just in the Bait-and-Switch Belt, but in economically hard hit expanses from Milwaukee to Montana, Minnesota to New Mexico.The paradox is that a lot of voters, particularly male ones, will vote for someone whose stances they don't support, if that someone has the guts to be upfront about it and not act like a wuss. Reason: People like leaders, and leaders have to have a certain amount of backbone to swim against the current.
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