Now Democrats & Progressives Have to Run on Real Issues

As the 2006 Congressional races have kicked into full gear, Democrats have been salivating at the prospect of running against the so-called “culture of corruption” of GOP-dominated Washington. However, three recent controversies – inside and outside the Beltway – involving Southern and Mid-Atlantic Democrats, could nullify the efficacy of this strategy altogether.First, West Virginia Rep. Alan Mollohan (D) came under investigation for directing contributions to nonprofit organizations linked to his campaign contributors. Next, Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson (D) had his Capitol Hill office raided by the FBI. Now, the Washington Post is reporting that Doug Duncan, the chief executive of Maryland’s largest locality – Montgomery County – and one of the two high-profile candidates for the Democratic nomination for that state’s governorship, is returning campaign contributions that are “related to or affiliated with” disgraced DC lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Though each situation presents a different set of facts, and likely different outcomes, they all point to the fact that no political party has a monopoly on virtue or vice. Given the rules of the game, impropriety or the appearance thereof is merely a matter of degrees and who is in power. In a region like the South and a state like Virginia, where Republicans and conservatives are the dominant forces and “running against Washington” is commonplace, the corruption angle is probably not a ballot-box winner outside of a few specific districts.

In light of these emerging scandals, real or imagined, it would seem like a good opportunity for Democratic and progressive politicians, to actually offer alternative policy solutions and ideas that appeal to voters and to not simply cast themselves as more ethically sound than Republicans and conservatives. As the 2004 presidential race showed, merely presenting your party and candidates as the opposite of others is not enough; standing for something substantive is much more important.

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6 responses to “Now Democrats & Progressives Have to Run on Real Issues”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Okay, so all we have to do is defend the morass in Iraq, paper over the internal Republian war over illegal immigration, and hope nobody notices the federal deficit or looming bankruptcy of Social Security and Medicare. You’re right. The majority is assured.

  2. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    If the GOP had any nerve, they’d also make a big issue about Governor “Bait and Switch’s” 180 degree change of position on linking land use to transportation. Kaine’s embracing a common sense approach to infrastructure ensured his election win. Yet, when he first encountered opposition (of which he was certainly aware when he made his campaign promise), Kaine bolted and joined the other side.
    Kaine makes the folks in Congress on both sides of the aisle look like members of a church choir in comparison.

    This issue would have legs, at least in NoVA. However, it would also require the GOP to become more than the same two-bit toadies for a few special interests. With the exception of Bob Marshall and a few others, most of the GOP are little better than Kaine and the rest of the Democrats on this issue.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    I have to disagree. In 1994, the congressional “bank scandal” caught up Repubicans as well. But because the Democrats were in power, the Republicans laid the whole thing at the feet of the Democrats.

    The bottom line is this: The Republicans run everything in DC. The Republicans as well as Congress’ number are near historic low. The voters are going to blame the Republicans in November.

    Of course the Democrats are going to announce a legislative agenda in the fall. Regardless of its success, the Republicans are going to get swamped. The only question is, by how much.

    The people put the Republicans in charge to govern and their efforts is perceived by almost 75% of the country to be a failure. The voters sense a need for equilibrium in politics and they are going to get it.

  4. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    I agree with you Conaway. If there is a “culture of corruption” — and there seems to be — it is endemic throughout Washington, and it touches both parties. Democrats need to run as a party of ideas. People are disgusted with Congress as an institution — them included. Only die-hard, partisan Democrats are going to buy the proposition that they’re clean and only the other guys are dirty.

  5. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Power is an equal opportunity corrupter.

  6. Scott Avatar

    Green Party has ten key values. See

    Check out the platform while you are at it.

    What are the Republicrats’ values?

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