Slade Mead was one of three Arizona Republicans who worked with Janet Napolitano to pass education funding, environmental legislation and a bipartisan budget over the objections of the rest of his party. All three were targeted for defeat by the Club for Growth and religious right in 2004 and all three lost their seats.
These liberal and moderate ex-Republicans are EXACTLY the kind of people we need to be welcoming into a big tent Democratic Party.
See my post below - you're right, most people with a record assume they've lost the right to vote. That's been my experience working with them. Just getting the word out that in most states they can vote helps.
"I think the framers would have been appalled that even people in prison aren't allowed to vote."
Yep, big time. Most of them were worse than felons in the eyes of the British government they had rebelled against. Some of them were felons in their own right according to U.S. law - Ethan Allen comes to mind, our own homegrown American Robin Hood. Interesting- lately I've taken to thinking of myself as a conservative Democrat. Part of what conservative means to me is live and let live, letting everyone have a fair shot at success, and a lot less sticking noses in other peoples lives. Obviously this is a far cry from what today's neocons and religious right have in mind by "conservative", which is why I'm a Democrat and will remain one.
Just a followup. I was active on this issue about 5-7 years ago - helping ex-felons register to vote where they could, and helping them apply to get their rights back where restoration wasn't automatic. Most of them didn't know they could vote, even in those states where voting restoration is automatic. And goodness knows they deserve a second chance in life and the right to be re-integrated into society.
I haven't been active on this lately but anyone who is interested should contact Human Rights Watch and/or the ACLU - and I believe there may be other groups working on this too. Those were the groups working on it 5-7 years ago when I was. Simply letting these people know that in most states, they can register and vote, is a big help. And no, this isn't an issue that will hurt Dems at all. In most states where they have repealed their disenfranchisement laws (Wyoming, Nevada, Nebraska, New Mexico - just to name a few), repealing those laws was a bipartisan issue with broad support in both parties. A sad and somewhat sickening exception is Florida.
Just a small factual correction here. Arizona doesn't disenfranchise for a single felony. Only for two or more felony convictions.
The number of states that disenfranchise for only a single felony is down to a small handful. Florida is one, Virginia is another. I think the others are Alabama, Iowa, and Kentucky but not completely sure.
There are also states like Mississippi that only disenfranchise for felony convictions in state sourt, but not in federal court (weird, huh? - probably a holdover from the segregation era), Tennessee where the reverse is the case, and Arizona as already mentioned, but most states give the right to vote back automatically.
While it is true that Alaskan lands conservation had/has broad support among Americans, this was not true among Alaskans. It could be argued that more than any other factor, the Alaskan lands act of 1980 turned that state hard Republican for a generation. Alaska used to lean Democratic from statehood thru the 1970s. Gravel was only doing his job as a Senator - representing the views of his constituents. Note that I am not expressing agreement as I generally support wilderness conservation. But this shouldn't be held against Gravel.
On other matters: He isn't a perennial candidate so can't be consigned to the status of a Harold Stassen. His support of a flat tax doesn't put him beyond the pale, since that is Jerry Brown's position too and he ran on that issue in 1992. He's a former two term U.S. Senator. He was one of the better known and respected Senators among liberals in the 1970s, some of whom (Frank Church, George McGovern) lost their seats in 1980 at the same time as Gravel did. He briefly gained status as an antiwar leader for filibustering the renewal of the draft and for reading the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record - much as Dennis Kucinich did more recently.
Apart from him having been out of major office since 1980, I don't see any reason to be leaving him out of straw polls. Let him in. Fact is, he will probably go further in the primaries than several of the ho-hum candidates like Biden and Vilsack who will be dropping out after they poll 1% in New Hampshire. That is not to say he has a chance of winning, but it is candidates like him who make Presidential primaries more interesting.
I especially commend ActBlue for their "big tent" policy. They don't omit candidates because of arbitrary litmus test issues or support or lack thereof from the party establishment. They don't omit candidates because some shrill activist has decided the candidate kills baby seals. If the candidate is a Democrat and appears to be running a serious campaign, ActBlue will list them. That is a commendable stance. If every other Democratic site had the same policy, we might succeed yet in building a broad-based, big tent party in which all viewpoints have a voice.
Although I'm kind of pulling for the other guy in the TN-3 primary (Brent Benedict) for various reasons, this post is right on target and I commend you for making raising the minimum wage a campaign issue. I hope that whichever of you wins the primary will be a strong enough candidate to send Zach Wamp back home. This post gives me hope that you would be a strong candidate too. Good luck to both of you! TN-3 was a Democratic seat held by a moderate blue dog Democrat, Marilyn Lloyd, until Zach Wamp took it in '94. There is no reason why it can't be again.
"you can't have a center without a viable left to counter overly powerful right"
I am going to have to respectfully disagree with this line of thought. It's a view I used to hold myself, but I've changed. We do have an overly powerful right in this country - that's a given. The problem with the modern right is they are guided by stiff ideology, litmus test issues, using inflammatory symbolism and loaded terminology as an organizing tactic, and defining themselves more by what they are against ("liberals") than by any positive vision for the country. True believer stuff. I am seeing the rise of a left which has exactly the same problems.
I no longer believe that you can counter the true believers on the right by becoming true believers on the left. What the left and right in fact do is feed off each other, build their bases by attacking the other side, and alienate most non-political people in the broad middle. This isn't going to accomplish a thing except further tear the country apart. Most people, who aren't political by nature, are turned off by ideologues on both sides.
What we need to counter the extreme right is to rebuild a sane, sober, pragmatic political center. What building a strong left does is strengthens the right, and vice-versa. The Democratic Party can be a pragmatic big tent party seeking solutions in the interest of the vast majority of (apolitical, centrist, pragmatic, non-ideological) people, or it can be guided by ideologues on the left and follow the same path to destruction that the Republican Party has by allowing themselves to be guided by ideologues on the right.
By all means, Matt Stoller's original post in this thread was bizarre: Casey a right-wing reactionary? That's absurd.
[i]"Do the leaders propose actual changes to economic power structures? Or are they just buying off the working class so they don't go over to the commies? What do you have left if you use anti-wealthy and nationalist rhetoric, but continue working with corporations while enforcing compliant unions? Fascism? It is a slippery slope."[/i]
Well it seems to me that keeping the working class from being lured into the commies would be a good thing. Indeed, it would seem to be a good argument in favor of populism vis a vis leftism. The above was exactly the charge the opponents of FDR's New Deal used, btw, including the bit about the slippery slope to fascism. FDR may well have stopped the working class from being sucked into dead-end extremism on both sides, both communism and fascism. There is no reason why populism necessarily leads to fascism, not even in the context of Latin America.
[i]"To think of it in US terms. Universal Health Care would be a radical shift in economic power away from Insurance companies."[/i]
Universal health care and Social Security are both the kinds of programs which can result from either populism or social democracy. What is remarkable about them is they [i]don't[/i] require any fundamental change in "the system", they have nothing to do with anti-capitalism, they work quite well while keeping the combination of a regulated market economy and limited constitutional democracy. They aren't the sort of "fundamental change" the leftists have in mind; theirs is the dogmatic religion of Leninism or its postmodern replacement (extreme identity politics), not any kind of pragmatic desire to solve the problems in the existing system. Leftism doesn't work and never did.
Thanks for this! You have hit the nail on the head.
I find the tone of the whole "populism bad, leftism good" mindset to be offensive. This statement from the original post defining populism as "appealing to the masses, using demagoguery, nationalism" and leftism as "well though-out strategy for making structural changes to the economy" - well, I recognize that line of reasoning and it ain't from the mainstream of the Democratic Party, folks.
I've also noticed a tendency among some academics to throw around populism as a slander term. They use it as a synonym for "anything I don't think is truly progressive even though it sounds progressive." Smacks of leftist sectarian party line enforcement at worst; academic snobbery and turning up their academic noses at the common people at best.
No, today's "progressives" really are a far left fringe. We can start with the ones on this blog who have been lobbing attacks from the left on Jim Webb and Bob Casey, who are two of the most exciting U.S. Senate candidates to come along in decades because they stand for economic populism and the values and interests of ordinary working Americans.
Here are some of the things that today's "progressives" stand for: open borders and confusing advocacy for illegal aliens with "immigrants rights"; a completely loony identity politics basis for their politics in which everything revolves around issues of gender, race, and "systems" of "oppression" inherent in mainstream culture; an oppositional culture that is rooted in the punk ethos and the avant-garde; and when all else fails, scapegoat the working class white male as the all purpose scapegoat for all our problems, especially Southerners.
Those are not mainstream values, and they are not Democratic Party values except at the furthest left fringes.
There is the extreme right (reactionary), there is the extreme left, and then there is the center. The center is where political discourse takes place. The center is where mainstream culture can be found. The center is where politicians represent their constituencies, pass legislation, and get funding for their districts. Progressives identify as the opposite of reactionaries because they are the opposite - they are on the extreme left, not the center. There is no future for the Democratic Party in becoming isolated as just another wing of the lunatic fringe. Leave that problem to the Republicans.