Power of Story Send a Tweet        

Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 1 (1 Shares)  

Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites (# of views)   2 comments
OpEdNews Op Eds

Why the Arkansas Primary Challenge Was Worth It

By       Message Paul Rogat Loeb       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags  Add to My Group(s)

Interesting 1  
View Ratings | Rate It


Author 1894
Become a Fan
  (6 fans)
- Advertisement -

It was a tough loss, 10,000 votes. Bill Halter might have even upset Blanche Lincoln in the primary run-off had his stronghold of GarlandCounty not dropped the number of polling places from 42 to 2, or had a few thousand more of us called to get Halter voters to the polls. But despite an unnamed Obama administration official attacking attempts to defeat Lincoln by telling Politico's Ben Smith "Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members' money down the toilet on a pointless exercise," I believe the groups who tried to unseat her made the right choice.

- Advertisement -

It's always a dilemma to spend scarce resources taking on sitting members of the party you normally support. But Obama's most progressive Cabinet member, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, herself captured a Congressional seat when labor and environmental activists helped her unseat conservative Democrat Matthew Martinez in exactly the same kind of underdog primary challenge. Solis was criticized with exactly the same arguments, as was progressive Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards, before she defeated incumbent Al Wynn. Following a year when the best of Obama's agenda was delayed, defeated, or watered down as much by corporate-beholden Democrats like Lincoln, Ben Nelson, and Kent Conrad as by Republican party of no, those who of us want this or future administrations to fulfill its promise have to find ways to pressure resistant incumbents. And primary challenges have to be part of the mix.

- Advertisement -

We can and should pressure our elected officials through non-electoral means: letter writing, petitions, and town hall meetings, running ads in their districts, vigils and protests in front of their offices, and organizing their constituents to speak out. If enough people participate, these approaches can not only pressure recalcitrant representatives, but also shift the horizon of what's deemed politically possible. But some entrenched incumbents, and I'd put Lincoln in this category, are so unresponsive, so compromised by wealthy interests, that we need to confront them electorally. Even the threat of a primary challenge can move incumbents to vote more wisely--as was true when Arlen Specter began shifting his votes after Joe Sestak first filed against him. When MoveOn, Democracy for America and several other groups raised several million dollars in pledges to support primary challenges to any Democrat who filibustered health care, their targets stopped talking so loudly about taking this possible stand. Primary challenges can matter even before the elections are held.

They also give us an alternative to other problematic options:

- Advertisement -

We can accept the tenure of these regressive representatives as inevitable, but that allows them to block necessary change at will.

Next Page  1  |  2


- Advertisement -

Interesting 1  
View Ratings | Rate It


Paul Rogat Loeb is the author of Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time, and The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear,winner of the 2005 Nautilus Award for the best book on social change. See (more...)

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon Share Author on Social Media   Go To Commenting

The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Republican War on Reality

The Election Needs You, Broken Heart and All

Life Lessons From a Dying Friend

Soul of a Citizen: What Cynicism Costs Us

Stop the Anonymous Hit Men: Make Shadowy Campaign Money the Issue

Letter to Obama from a Dying Friend