Monday, March 13, 2006

Surprise: Mike Arcuri is Running for Congress

In the most expected announcement I've heard in a long while, Democrat Michael Arcuri announced today that he will be running for Congress this year, first battling it out with other Democrats to gain the nomination, and then campaigning against incumbent Republican Sherwood Boehlert, or whomever runs in his place.

Arcuri's announcement speech, available on his campaign web site, is an extension and refinement of the speech he has been giving around the district while visiting local Democratic groups. In particular, there's a new, stirring ending in which Arcuri announces that now is the time for action, not neutrality:

"When I was young, I would often ask my Father for advice on one thing or another, and he used to love to quote a passage from Dante’s Inferno to me. That quote is: 'The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a time of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.'

This is not the time to be neutral. This is the time to be bold. This is the time to be passionate. This is the time for change. This is a time for us to make a difference."

Now, that's the kind of fire in the belly I've been waiting to see in one of our candidates for quite some time now. The funny thing about Arcuri's announcement speech, though, is that for every fire it kindles, it's got a sprinkler all set to give us a cold shower if things get too hot.

Consider another passage, spoken just a minute or two before the ending where Arcuri reminds us of the importance of not being neutral in times of moral crisis:

"The 24th Congressional District is a moderate district. That’s why Congressman Boehlert was effective for so long… because he tried to be a moderate. The problem is he can no longer be an effective moderate in his own party… because his party leadership has forsaken traditional American values."

It's going to be interesting trying to figure out this Michael Arcuri fellow. One minute he's Paul Wellstone, and the next minute, he's Joseph Lieberman. He's a moderate who says he won't run a partisan campaign, but he also tells us that this is no time to be neutral.

If Arcuri isn't going to be neutral, then he's going to be a partisan. If Arcuri isn't going to be a partisan, then he can be neutral, but what can he possibly stand for?

Arcuri referred to his accumulated political wisdom today by saying, "I learned to NOT run partisan political campaigns but, rather, campaigns that speak to issues of concern to all voters."

I've got some hard news for Mr. Arcuri. The issues that are of the most importance to the people of the 24th district are issues that the people of the 24th district do NOT agree about. The only "issues of concern" that appeal to all voters are pieces of genuine consensus that don't get to the heart of the matter.

We all want more jobs and a better economy for the 24th District. The issue we fight about is HOW to get them. We all want good schools. The issue we fight about is HOW to get them. We all want fiscal responsibility. The issue we fight about is WHERE to cut the budget and HOW to increase government revenues.

We fight about these details not because we're nasty people who like to fight. We fight about these issues because they're important. They're important enough that they must not be ignored by our candidates.

That doesn't go just for Michael Arcuri. It goes for Les Roberts too, who has let placeholder messages like "Please check back soon..." stand on his campaign web site for the last two months. It also goes for Bruce Tytler, who doesn't even have a web page.

Votes are not earned through back-room meetings with party insiders. They're not earned through television advertisements. They're earned with straight talk that lets voters know where candidates really stand on the important issues that divide us.

Enough silence. Enough ambiguity. Enough promises about plans that will come out later. Enough with trying to talk an argument both ways.

We voters aren't stupid. We know when we're being talked down to, and if we don't get the respect of some direct talk about the difficult issues of the day, most of us will stay home.

I'm not saying that because I want it to be true. I'm saying it because it is true. Michael Arcuri was right when he said that this is the time to be bold, the time to be passionate, the time for change. But, that change has to take place in the way a campaign is run as well as in the pretty words that candidates make in speeches.

Candidates: Be bold, be passionate, and be on the level. Fight like hell for our votes -- and don't pull any punches.


bubba said...

surprise surprise.

I see your concerns and as a rabid democrat I understand them, because often they are my own. As an Arcuri supporter I see your point about the need to not be neautral. I'll try to convey your concerns and those of others on here to people in the campaign when I can.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Roberts supporter because Roberts is the kind of candidate people actually hope for, not the kind we usually have to settle for. All the usual reasons apply: the people we most want and need in office don't usually run for office; the people who usually run for office are career politicians who are adept at calling for boldness with one side of their mouth and equivocating with the other. Democrats have become so focused on winning seats that the actual content of campaign positions and governing becomes an afterthought. Maybe we could accept this compromise if we actually won seats this way. But we don't. Compelling candidates with real fire, real courage, real solutions threaten the party machine, which has a great track record of grooming "safe" candidates, so "safe" and curtailed (if they ever held a position in need of curtailing to begin with) that they inspire no one. Do we need another smart, handsome lawyer-turned-politician to represent us in Congress? How good a job is that breed doing for us now? I look at what happened to Paul Hackett, I look at what they try to do to Russ Feingold, and I look at the way CQ has already picked Arcuri because the Party knows him better in Oneida County....While Arcuri has been coming up within the county and the party, Les Roberts is a local son who has come up through the district, through the nation, and has worked throughout the world in war zones, at the highest levels of policy formation, in federal agencies and NGOs in the world's direst conditions. I'll say it again: Les Roberts is the kind of candidate I dream of, not the kind I'm used to settling for. I look at the DCCC and the DSCC and study the failures of their imagination--and the races they DO NOT WIN for all their feeble imaginings...and I sigh....When will this Democratic party ever learn? Politics as usual strikes again. I'm striking back.

Anonymous said...

I have met Roberts and he is a nice, smart guy, who I don't want to win becuase I don't think he has the political instincts to be effective.

Consider the following comment from the CQ Article the other day:

"Roberts, who has public health experience in conflict zones including Afghanistan and Iraq, said he felt compelled to enter the race and use his experience to help form U.S. policy. “The goal originally was to put a check on this White House and to try to remedy the wrongs of the last five years,” he said."

Nice to hear, very ambitious, but completley irrelevent to me and I'm sure many other people. If he wants to be a check on the white house than he should run for the Senate. A House member is the closest representative we have on a local level within the Federal government. We need that person to bring us jobs and funding and a future. While I deeply care about the war in Iraq, as I am of drafting age and am against it, I don't want that to be my representatives main focus, I want them to work on bringing good paying jobs to the district so that I can stay in the place that I love so much.

So far all I have heard from Roberts is an ambitious, but national issue type of platform, when I want a candidate to talk about Cayuga, Otsego, Herkimer, Oneida type of issues.

From Arcuri, I have seen both ambition and the local political smarts that can get something done for us in Washington, not just be a person in the chair that nobody pays attention to, we already have that in Boehlert.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, no candidate is going to bring jobs to the district. Disabuse yourself of that notion. The US is losing jobs because our highly energy intensive lifestyle makes our labor pricing noncompetitive with India, China and the rest.

The United States will stand or fall (and that is what is happening under the Republicans) on NATIONAL policies which greatly reduce our energy consumption, and allow us to live less expensively thus reducing the wage demand of the US labor force in relation to that of other countries.

When we elect our Congressman, we elect our NATIONAL government representative.

The war in Iraq is not just about wasting the lives of volunteer Americans, it's about needlessly escalating a religious conflict to a plane of painful and long worldwide strife. That's a national problem and not something to ignore. You aren't going to get drafted son. It's a lot bigger than that small probability. Bush has unleashed a genie from the bottle and she's a mean one.