Saturday, March 18, 2006

24th District Democrat: How Are We Different From Republicans?

I spoke to a Democrat in Cortland County (no, it wasn't Bruce Tytler) yesterday after Sherwood Boehlert made his retirement announcement, and after Illinois Democratic Party Boss Rahm Emanuel made his ill-timed pronouncement that Mike Arcuri is his "recruit" for our district.

Here's what this Democrat had to say:

"We don't know anymore if what Arcuri is saying is coming from him or from a DNC advisor. I really have to say, this is a dark day for the dems for two reasons. First, our DCCC chair was dumb enough to let this slip. Second, how are we now different from Republicans if we are just supposed to be soliders, standing in line and taking whatever the higher ups say as the truth? Elliot Spitzer, when he came to Cortland, talked about Democrats being the party where there are no foot soilders, where everyone has an equal footing and is on equal ground. You don't need big money in a race, you just need to connect with the people and bring your message to them."

It sounds like a stupid question, but I've found that, sometimes, the stupidest questions are the wisest questions of all: How are we Democrats in the 24th District different from Republicans?

If they want to earn our support, our Democratic candidates need to answer this question in two aspects:

1. How should our policies be different from the policies of the Republican Party?

2. How should our process for selecting our candidates and campaigning be different from the process used by the Democratic Party?

In my opinion, there's been far too much emphasis on merely winning back this seat in Congress, without enough attention to the way that we do so. I'm a Democrat, and I want a Democrat in this seat, but I don't want it so badly that I'm willing to sit by quietly and watch our local Democratic infrastructure become corrupted in the process.

That's why, as of this morning, you'll notice that I have expanded the mission statement of this blog, at the top of the page, to be broader than just opposition to the Republicans. This race isn't just about beating them. It's about figuring out who we are, and communicating that to voters in a compelling way.

So, I'd like to hear responses from readers as well as the candidates on this matter. How are we Democrats different from Republicans, in terms of policy and in terms of process?


Anonymous said...

Great blog! I'm a Republican, but I think you're doing a good job of offering some interesting insights into the election from your party's perspective.

That said...

I think a Democratic candidate in the 24th has to do everything in his power to avoid articulating his positions. He's caught between a rock and a hard place- if he says the things that will energize the base and get out the party loyalists for the primary he stands a good chance of alienating an overwhelmingly Republican district. At best, they'll have to toe the "Republican Light" line. Which, essentially, means they'll be selling themselves as "Boehlert II: Electric Boogaloo".

Your friend forever,
Biggus Dickus

oldutican said...

I take strong positions on issues, but unlike you, i am not a death-wish Democrat.
What you are saying is nonsense. Did you read Arcuri's statement at his announcement? He took solidly Democrat positions.
Arcuri is a proven vote getter in a Republican County- the county that has the largest number of voters. If you want to support someone else, go ahead and support that guy and make your argument about the merits of your guy, but don't tear Arcuri down with your purist, defeatist nonsense.

DemsUnite said...

You have no idea just how correct Biggus is with respect to Oneida County. The Republicans have a stranglehold here. The one guy who can give them heartburn with voters is Mike Arcuri. He is a proven vote getter in the Democrat party and he often carries those who are running with him. If it weren't for Mike Arcuri, there would probably be no democrats in any positions in government around here, save for Ro Ann Destito. This county is very parochial too. They will vote for their own. If the only one of "their own" is Ray Meier, then we can wrap it up for the Republican in this race. I'm not kidding here. I know it's not what all of you want to hear, but it's food for thought.