If I could subtitle this post it would be "Define What It Means To Be A Democrat"
I have fallen off on blogging as much for a variety of reasons. Life certainly gets in the way at times. But its also because I have felt somewhat powerless in some areas. I see good Democratic legislation constantly being watered down to appease one or two Republicans even when it alienates some Democrats. I keep seeing Democrats dropping the ball in the messaging wars. I keep seeing a few Democrats being just as obstructionist on important issues like unemployment insurance as their Republican peers.
And I continue to see Kendrick Meek's campaign treading water.
It doesn't have to be this way. It really doesn't.
I know Meek's people will point out that we still have a long time yet to the election and that they are on the path to victory against Greene in the Democratic primary but honestly I am no longer buying the bullshit. Too many traditionally Democratic supporting institutions have either split their endorsement between Meek and Charlie Crist or have jump shipped to Crist all together. Right now there is no momentum with his campaign even though there have been plenty of opportunities for him to generate plenty.
Again it doesn't have to be this way.
Now I don't know what Meek's people are telling him but I have some recommendations of my own. I don't get paid to give people advice and I don't go to all the cocktail parties with the power players in Florida but I do have a wealth of common sense and to me that's what is needed in his campaign.
First of all I'll go on record and say I thought Meek's campaign misplayed how to handle Crist when important legislation was on the table. Its not that I wanted Crist to not veto the right wing education bill and the right wing abortion bill, far from it. But Meek's campaign basically went after him in such a way that when he did veto those items he was able to endear himself to the very voters Meek will need in November to win. And he did it with Meek getting little to no credit for pushing him in that direction.
That is the problem with running against a sitting governor. At the moment Crist has the power to approve or veto legislation that will help him in his campaign. While we want him to do the right thing, we should also want him when he does so to not get much credit for doing so and to contrast it between his previous beliefs. As it stands the guy is getting way with having more flip flops in the last 6 months of his political career than any politician ever. And that's not an exaggeration. At least Arlen Specter really was a moderate Republican most of his career so some of his viewpoints stayed consistent when he switched parties. What issues has Crist stayed consistent on since his "conversion"?
I can't think of any.
And yet you have Democrats DEMOCRATS flocking to this guy who was a flaming right wing asshole just a few short months ago.
Here's the deal. It is apparent at this point that he who wins the Democratic voters wins this election. That's not opinion, that's a fact. No matter what Crist is going to pick off some Republican votes from Marco Rubio. Some but not most. He will undoubtedly get some independent voters. But if the Democrats in Florida voted in a united fashion for Kendrick Meek he wins. No ifs ands or buts about it. The ONLY way Crist wins is if he pulls a sizable percentage of Democrats to vote for him. The ONLY way Rubio wins is if Democrats split evenly between Crist and Meek and Rubio unifies the Republican voters. The last scenario isn't friggin likely. But Crist winning on the shoulders of Democrats is becoming more likely by the day.
We simply can't allow that to happen.
For Meek, this primary against Jeff Greene has given him the perfect opportunity to take shots at Crist through attacks on Greene. The one way he can win the primary and start momentum going against Crist is to talk early and often about what it means to be a Democrat. What are core Democratic issues. What are the issues most important to Democratic voters?
And the truth is he can even use the vetoes to his advantage. He should be pointing out that as those bills came to Crist's desk Democrats were on the edge of their seats. Why? Because nobody knew if he would veto them or not. Would that possibly be the case if he was really a Democrat?
There isn't a Democratic governor in this country that would have even considered either measure. In fact is highly likely that if we had a Democrat as governor Republicans wouldn't have even wasted their time on such legislation. But they did was their time. Why? Because there was at least a chance Charlie Crist was going to sign them into law.
Is that the kind of "independent" Democrats want to represent them in the Senate. And remember that Greene is more of a so called "centrist" Dem so you can make the same argument against him. Ask the people, when major Democratic legislation comes up that goes to our core issues do you want to be on the edge of your seat every time??? Or do you want to be able to rest easy knowing that you have a REAL Democrat in office who is true to our principles?
"Filibuster" and "up or down vote" should be words that Meek finds a way to work into every campaign stop, TV appearance, radio interview. Say it with me "Although I may disagree with the administration at times when Democratic platform issues come up I will work hard to iron our those differences and although a filibuster is a tool that is always at the ready, I believe that major legislation deserves an up or down vote. Isn't that what a Democracy is about?"
There isn't another guy in this race who can or will say that. As a matter of fact its probably the clearest dividing line of this election. There are three other people who are likely to be obstructionists if elected. And then there's Meek who will be there to get shit done.
There's plenty of data on how filibusters have skyrocketed since President Obama has taken office. USE IT. Hell Meek should be running to every media outlet everyday talking about this right now as fin reg continues to be filibuster as people in Florida are still feeling the effects of the financial meltdown and as thousands of Floridians are being kicked off their unemployment benefits because Republicans and again at least one "centrist" Dem are filibustering that as well.
Ask the people, if you lose your job through no fault of your own and your family is just getting by on unemployment insurance do you want a Senator whom you know will vote to overcome a filibuster of those benefits or do you want one you can only "hope" will vote as a REAL Democrat?
That's not the hope and change we voted for 2 years ago!
And lets look at some of the major Democratic issues and how Crist's tenure as governor measures up. Discrimination against the LGBT community by putting a ban on gay marriage? Check. Fucking up our health care system then trashing President Obama for finally passing health care reform? Check. An educational system that hasn't progressed much if at all? Check.
And again Greene is the perfect foil because he's an inarticulate idiot who has absolutely no grasp on local or national issues important to Democrats. I should point out that Greene thinks we should stay in Iraq and Afghanistan forever. Hmmm wonder what Crist thinks?
And for the life of me I can't understand why Meek isn't on TV more. Fuck FOXNEWS, none of those people are voting for you. Go on MSNBC at least 3 times a week. Go on with Rachel Maddow to talk about the race as she has raised her profile now. Send press releases to Greg Sargent at the Plum Line or Josh Marshall over at TPM or any other Dem friendly outlet at least once a week.
MAKE NEWS DAMMIT
Get some real live fire breathing liberals down here to Florida too. Why Meek hasn't had Alan Grayson punching for him is beyond me but dammit that needs to change like yesterday. You can't herd Democrats by being a weaksauce centrist. It just won't happen. You get Democrats to vote Democrat by BEING a damn Democrat. That's what this race is about now and whether Meek wins or loses will be as a result of how well he recognizes that or doesn't.
I know some will make excuses about money but that's bullshit to me. Youtube is free, going on TV and radio is free, if you write them yourself press releases are for the most part free. Its time to start kicking some ass and getting in gear because the more the Meek campaign looks as if it has no chance the more that will end up being a self fulfilling prophecy.
I hope that Kendrick Meek wakes up and starts running a better and stronger campaign but I'm not convinced he will which sucks because he really is the best candidate. But the problem is if nobody ever KNOWS that he's the better candidate because he never makes the case that he's the better candidate then it really doesn't matter.
I can't take the thought of having another Joe Lieberman or Ben Nelson in the Senate being fake Democrats and pissing on us every chance they get, but it looks like that's what we're headed for unless something changes soon.