A Democrat reader left a comment here today, asking if I could please get back to writing about the problems with Ray Meier - the Republican opponent to Michael Arcuri. As I've made plain in the past, I'll get back to criticizing the many bad things about Ray Meier - but only after Michael Arcuri repudiates his support for the Military Commissions Act.
I want to explain why.
The essential question in this matter is whether whether, in spite of Michael Arcuri's support for the Military Commissions Act, Ray Meier is still a more dangerous choice than Michael Arcuri. My answer to that question is that Michael Arcuri is, in fact, more dangerous than Ray Meier, if you understand where the most pressing danger lies.
Does Ray Meier present a danger through his sure contribution to a Republican majority in Congress? Yes. However, Michael Arcuri presents an even worse danger: Contributing to a Democratic Party that gives in to the worst aspects of the Republican agenda.
There Republican Party is completely out of reach for reform. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is the subject of an intense battle. That battle is over the ideological identity of the Democratic Party.
One group, led by the likes of Harold Ford Jr. and Joseph Lieberman, wants the Democrats to be like the Republican Party - and believes, in fact, that progressive idealism is a problem. They'll do whatever it takes to win, including going along with legislation that rips the Constitution to tatters.
The other group, led by the likes of Senator Russ Feingold, believes that the Democratic Party has to be different from the Republican Party. They want the Democratic Party to stand up for basic progressive values such as keeping the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution intact. These Democrats are not willing to sacrifice those freedoms in order to win - because they regard such a victory as the most terrible kind of loss.
Michael Arcuri is in the first group.
I'm in the second.
I am no more willing to vote for Michael Arcuri just because he's a Democrat than I would be to vote for Joseph Lieberman just because he's a Democrat.
If Lieberman and Arcuri's group of Democrats win,and convert the Democratic Party to their vision, the Republicans will be out of power, but it won't make a lick of difference, because the Democratic Party will have become just like the Republican Party - and Americans will no longer have a real choice. The only thing we'll be able to choose between is right wing political party #1 and right wing political party #2. Such a result would be much worse even than the present circumstance, which is to have a minority party that stands up for what's right at least some of the time.
I don't favor having the Republicans retain control of Congress, but I favor the Democrats losing their progressive political identity even more.
This choice is especially important in elections such as the one here in New York's 24th congressional district this year. Our Democratic candidate, Michael Arcuri, has joined forces with George W. Bush himself, to support the most unjust legislation in America since the South's Jim Crow laws.
It's not a great thing to withhold a vote from Michael Arcuri. However, it's better than the alternative, which is to have a morally corrupt Democrat representing our district. Mike Arcuri would not represent us Democrats well, but if he's elected this year, he'll become the default establishment Democratic pick in our district in every election to follow, and it could be decades before we have even the hope of a Democratic primary again.
Are you willing to have Michael Arcuri represent the name of Democrat for our district for the next 20 years?