Nancy Pelosi's and Harry Reid's kibosh on impeachment-- taking it "off the table" is a symptom of a mindset that is prevalent in D.C.. The attitude is rooted in the same Democratic invertebrate (spineless) fear of taking a strong stand.
The Democratic leadership has made it clear they are worried that if they take too strong a stand on the war, fully blocking funds, if they go after Cheney and Bush for crimes, through impeachment, that they will be mocked and criticized.
The new, freshmen senators and congressmen all have handlers, call them "mentors" if you want to get euphemistic. These handlers tell them or, euphemistically, "advise them" how to vote. For the war funding vote, all the dems in congress were given guidance on whether they had to support the final funding bill or whether they got a "pass." The decision making process considered how tight their next race will be, how solid they hold their seat.
There are plenty of issues where constituent input will not make a dent in the dems' positions on issues unless the congresspeople are given the message repeatedly, intensely, in their faces. That's what Cindy Sheehan is doing to Nancy Pelosi.
One way to give your elected official the message that you're not satisfied with his or her response to your call for representatioin on the issues you care about is to run an opposition candidate-- either in the primary or as an independent-- or both.
If Cindy runs, it will cost Pelosi time and money. It will distract her from doing her job. I don't think anyone wants to sabotage or dilute Pelosi's potency, but, on the other hand, we all want her to back off on her "impeachment off the table" rule, and get tougher and stronger on the war. And there are a lot of us who are very upset about what Rush Holt's bill has morphed into-- a bad, dangerous bill that is bad for democracy, bad for America, but interestingly, very good, probably to the tune of in the billions of dollars range, for one company in Holt's district.
We need to push the dems who are leaning to far right, trying to look like Rright wingers (only God knows why, with right wing policy so deep in the tank) further to the left.
Even four term Republican congressman Joe Scarborough, reborn as "Morning Joe," as the replacement for Don Imus, has moved further and further away from Bush. He is questioning the war and a lot more of Bush's bad policy.
These invertebrate democrats need to wake up to what the people want.
I spoke at a meeting of local dems in south jersey last night and was pleasantly astonished by how well informed they were. The misconception that the reps in congress have that people don't know what's going on is dead wrong. Americans know more about what's happening today than ever before-- in spite of the lamestream media's efforts to distract us with garbage about Paris Hilton, Anna Nicole Simpson, OJ Simpson, Michael Jackson, the latest kiddie kidnapping and the other chronic distractions from real news.
One way to wake up these arrogant, puppet-managed un-representatives is to challenge them, to make their candidacies more difficult, their campaigns more challenged.
This works. Marci Winograd challenged incumbent Democrat Jane Harmon in the recent primaries. She lost, but put up a good fight. Since then, Harmon has moved to the left. That's a good thing for everyone, including Harmon. I give her credit for learning from the experience. It's a hardball way to force members of congress to wake up and start respecting constituents.
Fielding competition for an incumbent is no small task, but it can be very powerful. This can be a project that progressive organizations can easily get behind, so there is a message not only to the individual candidate, but to the DCCC-- the Democratic Congressional Campaign COmmittee. If they get the message that their positions and policies are costing them, bigtime, by driving constituents to field competition for the incumbents they've invested millions in, they will be forced to pay attention. That's why it's important that there be a national coordination of these efforts.
PDA-- Progressive Democrats of America, DFA Democracy for America, and Progressive Majority are all organizations that could get involved in this effort, though DFA, with its roots in the Dean campaign, may be too close to Howard Dean to confront the Democratic party's leadership.
To remain non-partisan, Of course, I should add that this same idea applies just as well to constituents who have Republican, Libertarian or Green representatives who are not far left or progressive enough.
Then, there are some situations where the incumbents, Republican or Democrat, are hopeless causes. This may start out as an effort to lean heavy on incumbents to move left. It could turn into a route-- where the primary is actually won. It could turn out that polling shows that the new competition does better than the incumbent in projected final horse races with the other party's candidate. And then there are the Joe Lieberman types-- the Bush enablers. I think we've all learned alot from the Joe Lieberman- Ned Lamont experience. I think the Dems in Connecticut have realized they really screwed up voting for Lieberman, that a guy like him is a prostitute for Bush, regardless of whether he runs as a Dem or an Independent. I don't think Lieberman would win if he ran again. I do think that Dems and Republicans had better change their positions on a lot of issues if they're to hold their jobs.
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