Wednesday, October 22, 2008

EVENT: Why I'm Voting Against Jan Schakowsky in the Illinois 9th District Race.

U.S. House of Representative: Illinois 9th District
Incumbent Jan Schakowsky (Democrat) vs. Moe Shanfield (Green) vs. Michael Younan (Republican)

Blue Skies Falling endorses: MOE SHANFIELD (GREEN)

This is, actually, probably the hardest decision for me to make this cycle.

There is little question of the race's outcome, but I need to outline my reasoning, because I vocally supported Schakowsky in 2004. She has really let me down. Her Republican opponent is justly withering in his condemnation of her support for the recent Wall Street Bailout, which was passed without punitive measures for seeking instituions or sufficient regulation or oversight. I am still waiting for a response to the letter I wrote her last month, although I don't expect an answer until after the cycle is over. From the other side, Green candidate Moe Shanfield explains his choice to run thus:

In July, 2007, the 76 members of the House Democratic Progressive Caucus signed a letter to the President: They would vote against any war appropriation bill which failed to include a time table for troop withdrawal.

Then, on August 5, 2007, something changed. A total of 62 of those "progressives", including the 9th District incumbent, cast "Aye!" votes for the Department of Defense annual appropriation bill--providing more than $100 billion to keep the war going. There was no troop-withdrawal time table.

This is absolutely a legitimate point; maybe one could make a case for selective accomodation of conservatives on key issues in swing districts, but Schakowsky has won the last three elections by over 40 points. If any Democrats have the opportunity to forcefully challenge the status quo, it is these, and if Democrats such as Schakowsky challenged the status quo more often, we might be in less of a mess now.

For a few seconds I thought about voting for Younan; he's as progressive as any Republican candidates come these days. His discussion of diplomatic options in the Middle-East and his condemnation of the bailout were thought-provoking and refreshing. But he's still status-quo Republican on way too many issues for comfort: he's against Universal Health-Care and doesn't offer much as far as education funding. And, like most Republicans, he fetishizes taxes far beyond their actual role in the sum of things. An interesting guy, but not somebody who would vote for me on many of the issues I care about.

That just leaves Moe Shanfield.

Well, there he is.

He doesn't really go into his policy position on any other issue, although as a Green his views are probably pretty similar my own. Of course, I feel like all too often the Greens are out of touch with the voters they believe they represent, and their election strategies have been spoilers than Democrats more than I would like.

But there is a time and a place for a protest vote.

In 2006 when Debbie Stabenow enjoyed a comfortable, but not overwhelming, lead over challenger Michael Bouchard, I wrote her that I would not vote for her because of her support for the Military Commisions Act, which was not sufficiently strong against torture. I wrote in my vote for former Flint City Administrator Darnell Earley. Stabenow has since repudiated her own vote and has gone on to have a commendably progressive record. Now Stabenow is a exceptional senator, and I don't think my one vote or letter made that difference. One hopes, however, that the right number of votes and letters, sent at the right time and to the right people, do make a difference.

That is why I will be voting for Moe Shanfield on November 4th.

The Democrats are going to take the Presidency in this election, hopefully a supermajority in the Senate, and will cut even deeper into the House Republican minority.

Once they hold these seats, however, we need them to fight for us.

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