As the name of this blog suggests, it is dedicated to taking back New York's 24th congressional district. But, taking the district back from who... and for what purpose?
I'll admit that, at first, my focus was pretty squarely on replacing Sherwood Boehlert, and getting a Democrat elected. The more I wrote, however, the more I realized how important it would be to get a good Democrat, the right kind of Democrat in office.
Look around at some of the Democrats we've got in Congress right now, and you'll see what I mean. There are some pretty nasty characters in the bunch. Senator Joseph Lieberman is the most infamous example, but there are plenty of bad Democrats in the House of Representatives too.
Consider craven Bud Cramer, right wing Democrat Lincoln Davis or deplorable Dan Boren. They're some of the worst members of Congress period, and they happen to be Democrats.
There's a bad history of congressional Democrats from New York State making extraordinarily bad votes. Many of our New York Democrats on the Hill, including both of our senators, voted to help Bush start the Iraq War. They knew better, but were afraid of losing support for re-election. New York State Democrats in the House of Representatives like Brian Higgins and Carolyn McCarthy just recently voted to extend extraordinary powers for President Bush to spy against Americans - in spite of the recent proof in the form of revelations of multiple programs initiated by the Bush Administration, outside of the NSA warrantless wiretapping program, to send government spies to keep watch on law-abiding American citizens for no reason other than that they disagree with the policies of the President.
When these politicians made these votes, it didn't matter that they were Democrats. All that mattered is that they voted the wrong way.
So, while I'm a Democrat, I'm not so naive as to believe that all we have to do in the 24th District is get any old Democrat to represent us in the House of Representatives. Before we all stand in line behind any Democratic candidate, we need to subject that candidate to the most detailed scrutiny to make sure we aren't getting a Democrat who will stand with the Republicans, and weaken the Democrat's credibility with voters. For the good of the Democratic Party, we voters need to critically examine every Democratic candidate that comes our way.
Some people, including many readers of this blog, believe that it's dangerous to engage in such critical examination of our Democratic candidate. They suggest that questioning our Democrats is a bad thing to do, and will weaken our chances of getting a Democrat in the House of Representatives. They seem to believe that the role of this blog should be to help all the Democrats stand behind the frontrunner in the primary election, and prevent other Democrats from launching dangerous challenges. They propose that I ought not to criticize the shortcomings of our Democratic candidates, and should focus all my fire on the Republican candidates.
We have over five months until the primary election. We should use that time to ask serious questions of our Democratic candidates, and challenge them when they fail to meet the standards that we deserve. The purpose of the primary race should not be to pick a candidate quickly so that all questions can be put to rest. The long time of the primary race should be used to force the Democratic candidates to prove their mettle. We need to temper our candidates, to strengthen them with the heat of our criticism. If we try only to get the process of selecting a Democratic candidate over with as soon and with as little controversy as possible, then we will enter the general election with a marshmallow candidate who has been spoiled by our lack of scrutiny.
Some people complain that I should be more fair to the Democratic candidates. In response, I say that I am more concerned with being fair to the Democratic voters. The voters deserve as much information as possible about the candidates. The voters deserve a more thorough debate. The voters deserve much more time before they are pushed to stand united behind one candidate. Our Democratic candidates can handle themselves, and don't need to be coddled.
Contrary to the protestations of the Democratic Party leadership, I believe that an election is no time for voters to overcome their differences and stand united behind one candidate. I say that an election is the last time when voters should do so.
This is no game. The outcome of this year's election could well determine the well-being of our district, and influence the path of the American nation, for the next generation. Such matters should be considered with more gravity than the kind we give to team sports.
Citizen first. Democrat second.