Why I went to Sherrod Brown dotcom
by blogswarm, Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 04:54:17 PM EST
I went to Sherrod Brown's website and signed up for email alerts, and I would urge everyone to do the same. I've been wanting to post something for a week, I figured I wait until Brown offered an olive branch to Hackett supporters and then post something about how all of us should give him a fresh start. That has yet to happen, but here is where I see things in Ohio.
Right now, the Ohio Senate race is looking really fucked up, and that is a major problem.
The latest poll shows 40% of voters are following the Hackett withdrawal and bad news for Brown:
The survey also found that 33% of Ohio voters believe the withdrawal of Hackett will make it harder for Democrats to win this seat in November. Seventeen percent (17%) believe it will make victory easier to obtain. Democrats are evenly divided on this point.
Fifty-four percent (54%) of Ohio voters believe DeWine will be re-elected while 29% expect Brown to defeat the incumbent. Republicans overwhelmingly expect a DeWine victory while Democrats are evenly divided.
And that poll was before yesterday's Harball that ended up in the Plain Dealer, Dispatch, and Enquirer. Bossing primaries, swift boating and whisper campaigns are tough to jive with the demand for, "truly democratic government, served by elected representatives who uphold the highest standards of honesty and integrity."
We can't let Ohio's senate race stay fubar. For one thing, Chuck Schumer is so prominent in this fiasco that he now needs to win Ohio regardless of the expense. If a compromised position forces the DSCC to spend based on saving face, instead of opportunity, then every other senate campaign could come out on the losing end. Anyone who even slightly cares about any senate race must hope that Brown turns this around.
And Brown has a unique opportunity to run a campaign as progressive as his voting record. I believe this takes some recognition that there is a problem, some examination of what went wrong, and a plan to move on.
Watching the debate over the last week, I've been shocked at how often people seem to be talking past each other, which I think reveals a few of the major fault lines in the Party, especially in how people view progressives and progress. I think part of it goes back to the old wonks and hacks; policy and politics tradition that has been around forever. But there is also a healthy dose of the bosses and the base; D.C. insiders and the grassroots.
The policy crowd seemed focused on Brown's voting record from a left/right perspective. For some, the fact that Brown has been a consistent vote for progressive policy meant that he could do no harm since the ends might justify the means. Personally, I believe judging a candidate simply on voting record is like judging a lawyer based simply on wins and losses in court. From a political perspective, progress involves more than issues. Part of being a progressive is being a reformer, especially when it comes to reform the way our party does business.
While the DC elitists got their pick for the Ohio Senate campaign, I think the reformers and the base showed that we are making progress in moving away from a top-down structure. There were vast improvements in transparency and progressive communication infrasture in the one year between Casey's selection and Brown's selection. More people with more information following politics more closely have a power that provides a check on the top. While the Swift Boating of Hackett is in every local paper today, it made it there via progressive radio and Mother Jones online, and the Ohio bloggers and only culminated on national TV feeding the dailies. Last summer, I would have thought that an effective progressive message distribution system would have been a benefit to Sherrod Brown, but a lot has changed since then.
For the longest time, Democrats' efforts against DeWine demonstrated strong communication, cooperation, and trust. There seemed to be agreement by the players to avoid a primary and things moved very smoothly as Ted Strickland ran for Governor, kept moving smoothly as Brown declined, continued moving smoothly as Tim Ryan declined. But when Hackett finally said yes, all hell broke loose and as a result we are looking at one of the most important senate races being fubar. While everyone would have supported Brown when he was asked to run, somehow Brown managed tactically to create an unnecessary primary, boss the primary, and leave a bad taste in the mouths of most who heard the story of Democrats Swift Boating a fellow Democrat.
There is no time like the present for Sherrod Brown to begin campaigning in a way that makes Democrats proud. For one thing, he now has nothing to lose because Brown could lose, this could even be his last race. Brown needs to begin running a campaign that he can be proud of.
When Brown announced that he was running against Hackett, it didn't look like he had an exit plan. While it was clear that Brown could be effective at sabotaging Hackett, I didn't see what happened after that. And now, I don't think it helps to blame the GOP or blame the victim when every newspaper in the state is running allegations that the blame belongs to Brown's campaign (for a Swift Boating far worse than what the Republicans used in the special election). I don't care how liberal one is, what happened to Paul Hackett wasn't progressive.
I think those of us who supported Hackett should remember his reverance for the belief that, "for whom much is given, much is required." The bosses gave Brown the nomination, but it is up to each of us to give Brown a second chance. By giving Brown a blank slate, each of us can heighten the expectation that Brown will run a campaign that won't need another do over.
Brown's supporters can help with transparency instead of rewriting history, with accountability instead of blaming Hackett for bleeding on the dagger. While it is understandable for Brown supporters to be defensive about how the campaign has crashed and burned, before lashing out at Hackett supporters they should remember that Brown could have had the nomination without a primary.
I'm giving Brown a second chance. I don't know if it matters or will do any good, but I think we should forgive him and give him the tools to succeed.
As a first step, I went and signed up at Sherrod Brown's website.