Thursday, March 13, 2008

Stop the Sucking

Sure, she's wasting campaign money. And Democratic opportunities to attack John McCain. And attempting to create divisions in the Party.

But of all the many reasons that Hillary Clinton should graciously concede the Democratic nomination to the clear winner of the contest, none has been more overlooked than the impact on downballot races.

No, I'm not talking about Obama's major coattails, though that is certainly important. I'm talking about the oxygen that this continued farce of a campaign is taking away from the deserving and overlooked women and men running for Senate and Congress.

Clinton supporters not making their votes based on identity politics, and who are not currently deluded enough to believe that their candidate is more electable, presumably are making their votes based on specific issues. Maybe they believe that mandates on health insurance programs are a good idea (I don't); maybe they believe that freezing interest rates for 5 years is a good idea (I certainly don't); maybe they believe that we should pull out of Iraq more slowly (I disagree). Who knows?

But the truth of the matter is that without a strong Democratic congress to help the Chief Executive to push these plans through the legislature, none of them will come close to passing in the forms being pushed by the candidates. Any voter truly making decisions about these candidates based on the issues while ignoring the state of the downballot races is making a colossal error in judgment. Much I find Clinton's candidacy and modus operandi highly distasteful, I know that a Clinton presidency with a strong Democratic, progressive congress is likelier to lead to the policy outcomes I desire than an Obama candidacy with a weaker Democratic congress. The reverse is, of course, doubly true.

I know that there are some who say that continuing this primary is good for the party, as it registers new voters and create ground operations in every state. But that help is dramatically overwhelmed by oxygen being sucked out of lungs of our deserving candidates: the media attention and money that are the lifeblood of such campaigns. Every second of every minute of every day that the Clintons spend desperately trying to maintain their grip over the Democratic Party and its levers of power is precious sand running out of the hourglass for the candidates who could actually use the most time, energy and money from the netroots and the progressive movement. Every campaign donation drive from the pockets of the netroots faithful on behalf of the Obama or the Clinton campaigns to maintain this petty and ultimately pointless intramural fight the Clintons are waging, is not only money that could have been going to attack John McCain: it's money that could have been going to candidates like those on the Red to Blue list--to say nothing of the many other deserving candidates like Ron Shepston, Mary Pallant or Gilda Reed.

My good friend clammyc and I have been conducting a series of online, podcastable radio interviews with deserving progressive, Democratic congressional candidates (the interviews also get posted to Heading Left, in case BlogTalkRadio's format is a too intimidating). In every single show, I make the case that as important as the Oval Office is, and as much as the presidential candidates deserve our time and effort, these candidates need our aggressive support to succeed in sometimes extremely difficult circumstances. Not all of them will have Bill Foster's good fortune in having a single special election to focus on, or having Barack Obama appear in ads for them, or having as sadsack an opponent as Mr. Oberweis. These are very difficult battles, and they could use a little more love coming their way. And they won't get that love from most of us unless Hillary Clinton ends her quixotic quest to put herself and her husband back in the White House.

One of those candidates I'm talking about is Ron Shepston in CA-42, running against the odious Gary Miller. As many of you know, Ron Shepston (whom clammyc and I will be interviewing tomorrow) started his political career right here in the blogosphere, posting under the name CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream, and has had our backs as a progressive activist for years. Fellow Kossacks hekebolos, theKK and I just hosted a fantastic fundraiser/house party for him this last Saturday. And Ron is just one of many, many candidates who stands to gain enormously by our party turning its attention away from the Clintons' desperate power ploy, and back to the issues and candidates that matter.

If Hillary Clinton or her supporters care anything at all about the Democratic Party, the issues we hold dear and the legislation we want passed, they must know that the time has come to end this charade. We've got more important things to worry about at this point.


By the way, for those interested in hearing the real voices of some great candidates, you can hear prior interviews in our candidate series below:

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