Thursday, May 10, 2007

Real Democrats [please check box]

Some local progressives are irate because their congressman didn’t vote for H.R. 1592, The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007. They’re pissed that Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) voted against a bill I suspect most of them haven’t read. The bill won overwhelmingly in the House and is destined to be vetoed by President Bush if it clears the Senate.

Doesn’t matter. Bush wouldn’t enforce it if it did get by him. One more reason they’re pissed.

After sixteen years of Republican Charles Taylor, they’re ready to throw his new Democratic replacement under the bus because he’s what they knew from the start: an anti-Iraq war social conservative. It’s the very reason he was able to unseat Charles Taylor in the first place, helping Democrats retake the House and bring some heat to the Bush administration.

Not good enough.

We're proving what Kos says is wrong with Democratic politics – that being a Democrat in good standing is about checking off enough check boxes on the laundry list of liberal causes.

Vision? Big picture? What big picture?

Politics is process. Republicans think long term. They built a well-funded, disciplined movement, working steadily, methodically crafting and disseminating a message in the minority for thirty years before retaking Congress in 1994 and holding it through 2006. We can’t manage six months.

Under Charles Taylor, liberals in this conservative district got none of what they wanted. Under Heath Shuler, they now get some of what they wanted. They’re apoplectic because they aren’t getting all of what they wanted.

All or nothing. My way or the highway.

Where have you heard that recently?


syntax said...

I can't speak for the reasons why "they're pissed", but what got me all "apoplectic" was not just Shuler's vote on HR 1592 (which I did read, by the way - I'm wonky like that), but the fact that Shuler was talking out of both sides of his mouth when he was interviewed by the Asheville Citizen-Times regarding his vote. If he says that "people should be treated equally" and then mere seconds later he transforms into (dat dada DAAAAA) LEVITICUS MAAAAAN!!!!, then I'm going to call bullshit.

He thinks homosexuality is wrong. An aberration. Fine. We agree to disagree. But at least be honest about it, you know? If that's the reason Shuler voted against the bill, he should have come right out and say it instead of rationalizing it with Republican talking points and then twisting the knife by playing the Leviticus card, quite possibly one of the most tired, unoriginal and boring right-wing tactics out there. All Shuler had to do was talk about "The Lessons of 9/11" and he would have hit the trifecta.

I agree. We need to organize.

Someone left a comment @ ScruHoo suggesting that maybe Shuler voted that way because of all the time he's been spending with Patrick McHenry lately. I laughed.

Screwy Hoolie said...

We're not "throwing him under the bus". We're voicing our displeasure with his vote against hate crimes legislation.

This is called the First Amendment OR putting principle before party.

You know I'm no single issue martyr, UB. I'm also not one to stand silent when our Democratic Party values are trampled by a Democrat.

I've got the big picture in mind, and it has nothing to do with tacitly endorsing homophobia.

Of course Shuler's better than Taylor. That's why I worked my ass off for him only a few months ago. It's important for Democrats to stand up for our principles as well as our party, so when a Democrat violates our principles we ought to call him on it.

That's all.

Links to the ScruHoo posts you allude to:


Undercover Blue said...

We're not "throwing him under the bus". We're voicing our displeasure with his vote against hate crimes legislation.

No, not you. But (sorry) my earlier post on your site was a reprise of my response to some earlier e-mails going around Buncombe politico circles, so I wasn't specifically talking about Hooligans. Other folks are (effectively) advocating "shunning" Shuler over this vote.

(The anti-HR 1592 folks are the ones voicing concerns about their 1st Amendment rights. It's the 14th Amendment that's in play in equal protection, so there are legitimate competing Democratic principles at issue here. Depends on whose shoes you're walking in, which was the point of my ScruHoo post.)

But hey, we wanted Taylor out. We got Taylor out. We wanted Congress back. We got Congress back. We wanted accountability. It's in the works. We wanted a congressman who's anti-war, pro-environment, pro-labor? We go all that too. A gay rights advocating stem cell research booster who's pro-choice? Okay, he's not your guy. I call that progress. Not everything we might wish for, but progress. We can't have everything? That's life. It beats the alternative.

It's still a very conservative district. Voting against this bill when his vote made no difference in the House, when the bill was destined to fail in the White House was a sop to district conservatives he'll need in 2008. So they get what they wanted whether he voted with them or not. And even if he wasn't a social conservative, he may even have been advised that was the smart thing to do. Besides, what practical difference would a vote in favor of HR 1592 make to its final passage? None.

And when the Club for Growth and the RNC start pouring money into this district next year (the US Chamber is already on 880 AM), we'll think we got off easy in 2006. For me, it's not about winning this battle or that one. They don't call them campaigns for nothing.

Screwy Hoolie said...

You know I get the politics, UB.

But doesn't it leave a filthy taste in the mouth to shrug off opposition to hate crimes legislation? How about anti-immigrant rhetoric? Stem cells?

I retain my principles even as I participate in politics, and it's important that we let the candidate we voted for know that we don't support his wingnuttier side.

Hell, our disapproval likely helps him with the intolerant boobs he's trying to please.

Undercover Blue said...

I'm with ya. But as they say, it's not beanbag. And I agree with Syntax's aggravation over Shuler's newspaper comments.

As I wrote, I support the principle. That's not to say you have to support this particular bill to prove your bona fides as a principled Democrat. On the wonk side, I wish they'd just added the additional categories to the existing Title 18 list.

I had misgivings over the front-end grant portion of the bill possibly prompting local prosecutors into finding "hate crimes" where they otherwise might not, just to supplement their tight budgets with federal cash. But that's me. I don't know what Heath's people told him. I could go either way on this bill. I can argue both sides (and often do, which is why I make a better advisor than a leader).