If you are one of those Democrats like me who is completely fed up with the inside-the-Beltway party hacks who continue to lose elections because they have no spine and no vision, listen closely to a little something you can do this week to rap the knuckles of the Democratic Party machine.
Two years ago, Christine Cegelis took 44 percent from Henry Hyde, the arch conservative congressman and Congressional father of the anti-choice movement, in the suburban Chicago-area 6th District in Illinois. Her race pushed Hyde to announce he would retire. Cegelis, supported by a broad grass-roots network, decided immediately to run for the seat in 2006.
Rather than line up behind a candidate who was poised to capture the district, the Beltway Democrats recruited a primary opponent to take on Cegelis. Why? Because Cegelis is precisely the kind of progressive candidate the Beltway Democrats are afraid of: she is a progressive, anti-war, pro-choice, pro-renewable energy, pro-universal health care and opposes NAFTA-like trade deals. She's called for a quick and safe withdrawal of troops.
The Beltway Democrats tapped Tammy Duckworth, a person who has never lived in the district. Her central asset: she is a member of the Army Reserves who lost both her legs in Iraq. She isn't even running against the war--she is simply a symbol of patriotism. While her personal story is moving, she is also precisely the kind of candidate that the Beltway Democrats love--centrist and pro-business.
What a way to lose. Faced with a choice between Republican and Republican-lite, voters tend to pick the Republican. When are we going to learn?
In closing, the author suggests that we do what we can to support Cegelis:
That is precisely what this race is about. With a week left, a little help for Cegelis from every person thirsting for a vibrant party will go a long way to answering the question: will the progressive movement stand up to the Beltway Democrats who will continue to lose elections because they have no vision for our country?
Let's hope the good people of the Chicago-area 6th District step up to the plate.