Sunday, January 27, 2008

Of course I'll vote for the nominee. That being said...

Things have reached, shall we say, a fevered pitch lately.

Most of the progressive blogosphere has split up into five camps - Edwards supporters, Obama supporters, Clinton supporters, Clinton haters and the one mentioned in the title. I could also add a sixth category of “general ass”, but that really overlaps with one of the first four camps.

Being one who supported Dodd and then nobody in particular, I fall into the camp that I mention in my title. And I am sure that many others here, and around the country do as well. I think that all three of the remaining Democratic candidates (sorry, Gravel supporters) would be a very capable President and, at worst, wouldn’t make things worse than they already are.

I’ve pushed back against Obama supporters - even some who I would call good friends of mine who say that voter fraud or suppression was being done in Nevada. I have directly criticized Clinton on her votes on Iraq and Iran, I have praised her as a very fine Senator and someone who has kept her cool under some very unfair circumstances. I have directly criticized her husband and former President Bill. I have offered the faintest (if at all) praise for Obama but am not really excited about some of his stances.

I think it is inexcusable that neither he nor Clinton have stood up with Senator Dodd in any meaningful way regarding FISA and the Constitution. I don’t like that they don’t engage with the progressive netroots. On February 5, I don’t know who I will vote for. Probably Edwards but maybe Obama, depending on the polls. I know that if it were on which of the three I identify with most, it would be Edwards. That is not to say that I am overly excited about Edwards, but I am more excited about him staying in the race and shaping the message as best he can. I can say that I will not be voting for Clinton on February 5.

But I will most certainly vote for her, or Obama, or Edwards in November. Even if I feel like I am being used, taken for granted or just dirty and betraying myself just a little bit. I just don’t like Clinton - I know she is brilliant. I know that she is a great politician and can “work the system”. I just don’t really like what she represents and who she aligns herself with. But she is close enough to my ideals on a number of major issues and will get my vote.

I am not thrilled with Obama. I think he isn’t really looking out for progressives as much as he wants to “get things done” - even if that means compromising a number of my very important ideals. I think he is tentative and I don’t always agree with his underlying motives. But he is close enough to my ideals on many issues and will get my vote.

Issues mean a lot to me. I think that a movement, at its core is based on issues, not people. Usually, electing Democrats will help our movement in many ways and on the issues we care about - and the Democrats running for President will, at worst, not stand in the way of some of these issues getting passed or further developed in a way that I would like to see them developed.

This won’t happen under McCain. Or Huckabee. Or Ron Paul, Rudy 9ui11ani or Mitt Romney.

None of the three Democratic candidates can really accomplish much with a Congress that is as divided as this one. That may not be completely their fault, but it could also serve as a convenient excuse (as it has for both Reid and Pelosi). And without more progressives in Congress, our movement will not continue in any meaningful way.

I live in New Jersey’s 5th district - my Congressman is Scott Garrett. He is one of the most odious members of Congress. When you see bills that pass the House with a vote of 390-35, he is one of the 35. Consistently. He has around an 85% voting record with George W. Bush. On the other 15%, his position is more extreme than Bush.

There is at least one, possibly two progressives running in my district on the Democratic side. Scott Garrett will never vote with Clinton, Obama or Edwards on anything that I want to see passed. But the Democratic candidates in my district will. As will many other progressive Democratic candidates - some of whom are members of the progressive blogosphere. From Charlie Brown to John Laesch to Darcy Burner to Barry Welsh to Ron Sheptson to Gilda Reed to Dennis Shulman in my district, and many others (I apologize if I forgot a few).

These are the people that we need - without them, NOTHING that Clinton or Obama or Edwards wants will happen. On the flip side, it is these people who can not only stop the agenda of McCain or Huckabee or Romney but can also plant the seeds for the progressive agenda - one that can last for a generation or even longer.

So, I will continue to hold Senator Clinton’s and Senator Obama’s feet to the fire. I will not do it based on something they said or something they may or many not have done. I will do it based on the bigger picture - how does what they are doing or saying impact the chance for the progressive movement to move forward. It will be reflected in what I say and what I write. It will be reflected in where and to whom my donations go. It will be reflected in how I spend my time during this summer and fall, whose campaign I work on and in what capacity.

And as much as you want to call me a republican, an asshole, a whiny ass titty baby, a dumb douche, an sore loser Obama supporter, a pie-in-the-sky Edwards supporter, or tell me that I am writing a “hit diary” (most of these have happened over the past couple of weeks), you will be missing the bigger picture.

I am looking out for the long term prospects of a progressive movement. None of our Presidential candidates are perfect for that, although some are better than others.

All of them will get my vote in November if they are the nominee.

But if they are making it tougher to get enough voters to help get Scott Garrett out of office, that is not good for the progressive movement. That is something that I will remember and it is what will ultimately matter most to me, no matter what names I am being called for the things I say about our Presidential candidates.

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