Love The One You’re With (Or At Least In Reach Of)
Here’s an idea. If there isn’t a Congressional candidate in your district that you are passionate about supporting, why not look elsewhere? If you live in a red district in a red state and have for your choices, Republican numbskull that will only do harm and Republican lite numbskull that may do less harm, why not look to other rural districts that do have a candidate that will represent you, even if they won’t directly? A progressive candidate from a rural district will work for issues that matter to progressive rural voters no matter where you cast your vote. It seems like a no-brainer, but we’ve been taught to think that Congressional races are local and only presidential elections are national.
The same is true of solidly liberal districts. My Congressman, Jim McDermott, is as liberal as they come and will be re-elected without any help from me, so I have decided to focus on candidates outside of my district and commit to giving them the support and money that it takes to win. I generally don’t give money to candidates and have in the past preferred to focus on grassroots issues campaigns as a place to send my cash, but when Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of Daily Kos and Jerome Armstrong of MyDD came to Seattle several months ago to promote their book Crashing The Gate, one of the most memorable quotes that they had to offer was, “If you don’t like the way Congress is beholden to special interests, then buy a Congressman, one dollar at a time.” That is a powerful statement and it makes a simple kind of sense.
Until we have publicly financed elections, we can either refrain from engaging in the system altogether, or we can engage in it as a group, forcing elected officials to be beholden to the people (lots of small donors) instead of big business that can cut the big checks that always come with strings attached. I have since made my first contributions directly to Congressional and Senatorial campaigns, to Ned Lamont, Darcy Burner and Peter Goldmark, none of whom will be representing my district, but each of whom, given the chance, will represent my progressive values, not to mention take out some pretty nasty Republicans (one of them even posing as a Democrat (Joe Lieberman) that shall remain nameless).
I have recently met and become a fan of Peter Goldmark, the Democratic candidate for the 5th Congressional district of Washington State. I live in Seattle, on the other side of the mountains from the 5th district, yet this race has become important to me. Here is a seat that the Democrats could win, a rural district that could be represented by a progressive rural candidate with a forward thinking agenda and a down-home manner. He’s a third generation rancher with a Harvard education that knows more about molecular biology and farming than most of us could ever hope to know. I think he is uniquely qualified to serve in Congress and address the pressing farming and energy issues that have more of a nexus than ever before. He not only knows the importance of bio-fuels, he knows how to make them profitable for his district.
Peter Goldmark is no Jim McDermott, but the beauty is, he doesn’t have to be. I recognize the importance of having diverse leadership in DC, as long as that diversity works in favor of working people of all stripes. The working people of Eastern Washington have more in common with the working people of Seattle than they do the corporate elite whether they know it or not. Peter Goldmark is just the kind of candidate that can bridge that gap and his success in doing so would make our whole country stronger.
So if you have a candidate in your district that speaks for you and that has a chance at taking the seat, give what you can. If you don’t have such a candidate, look elsewhere, hell, give to Peter Goldmark (preferably by Friday when the money gets reported) if there’s no one near you. And before you ask, I have no affiliation, not even in the most tangential way, with the Goldmark campaign. I just know a good thing when I see it and I’m happy to promote a candidate that speaks to the issues I care about and that I trust to represent me, even when he doesn’t have to. That is the rarest of things in this polarized political climate and I plan on taking any and every opportunity to promote those candidates that not only believe in the common good, but that have a damn good plan for promoting the most good for us common folk. Good grief, we’ve suffered enough, it’s high time that the people rule the People’s House again. If we manage to take over, we’ll even promise to kick the corporate scum every once in a while. Turn about is fair play after all.