The problems we face, as a country, did not start with George W. Bush. He is just the culmination of a 30-year campaign to create an imperial "unitary presidency". We now have a president who claims king-like powers to be able to kidnap anyone, anywhere, off the streets, deny them habeas corpus and due process, suspend their Constitutional rights and to send them to secret locations where they may even be tortured. These powers will not just go away when George W. Bush leaves office.
Unless these unconstitutional powers are challenged, they will be passed onto the next president with the weight of precedent and our Constitution will be rendered a quaint thing of the past. Even if we elect a Democratic President, that will not change precedent and the next President who wants to claim those powers will have a very easy time doing so.
As I write this, Congress' approval ratings are lower than President George W. Bush's. There are numerous reasons for this, but the primary one is the perception that they have failed to reign in or even stand up to this administration.
Think about that for a second, George Bush is the worst, most consistently unpopular President in American history, but Congress' approval ratings are even worse!
We, as the voters, have some choices to make in 2008. Do we want to send the same kind of Democrat to congress that has already disappointed us? Or do we want to send someone who is going to really stand up and speak out against what is going on in this country?
Can you imagine if we had a representative in Congress who would have gotten in front of the cameras, passionately reminded Congress what is at stake and demanded that Nancy Pelosi keep impeachment on the table? Can you imagine if we had someone in Congress who could have stood up to the fear mongering of the Republicans and stated passionately "I support the troops and that means I want to get them home!"
Nancy Skinner is exactly the kind of outspoken advocate for the people and the Constitution that we NEED in Congress right now. That is one of the reasons that she came closer to beating one of the most entrenched Republicans in Congress than anyone ever before, despite being outspent 7 to 1.
I had the opportunity to meet both candidates running for Congress in the 9th district of Michigan in the last couple weeks and hear them both speak. Nancy Skinner is the returning candidate who performed outstandingly last year and this time around she is being challenged by Gary Peters, the former head of the Michigan lottery commission. They are both good progressives who share many of the same ideals and goals for Michigan and the country. The challenge in this primary is to decide which candidate is going to be better running against Joe Knollenberg and which one will better represent We the People when they get to Washington.
First impressions mean a lot to me, and the thing that struck me was the difference between the two people when I met them face to face. Nancy Skinner looked me right in the eye and shook my hand firmly. Gary Peters did not. Gary was looking over my shoulder as he shook my hand lightly and quickly. If that is how he acts when he meets me, a receptive potential voter, what kind of impression is he going to make when he has to face off against the likes of John Boehner or Trent Lott?
Their speeches contained much of the same content, because as I said, they share the same beliefs and values, but where Gary Peters was soft-spoken and reserved, Nancy was outspoken, louder and in my opinion communicated with a passion I have not seen since Paul Wellstone died.
Nancy reminded me why she came so close to winning last year and why she is the one with the best chance of beating Joe Knollenberg in 2008.
We do not need to send another capable administrator to Congress who is going to continue the record of failure in standing up for the Constitution.
We need to send a firebrand; an outspoken advocate of the people who is media savvy and knows how to get our perspective out there in the corporate media and communicate it effectively.
We need someone who will get in front of the parade and represent We the People in Washington, which is precisely what we lack right now.
Unfortunately, since I started writing this, the supporters of Gary Peters have decided to wage a very nasty and dishonest smear campaign against Nancy Skinner. They have been claiming that she said things and done things that she has never said nor done. I know because I was there when she gave the speech in question. Their lies, and the lack of a denunciation of their lies by Gary Peters himself, lowers my opinion of him as an honest and moral candidate who represents my values. If Gary wants to continue to be tainted by the obvious lies and slander, then he only needs to remain silent as lies are spread in his name. If that is the case he will not be getting my vote even if he wins the primary and since I know I am not alone in feeling this way it would be a disaster for everyone if that happened.
"If you give people a choice between a Democrat that looks like a Republican and a Republican, they will choose the Republican every time." - Harry Truman