Friday, May 19, 2006


On Ideological Purity

Remember to update your links! is coming.

But today is a good day for a substantive piece, on a subject that really concerns me: ideological purity in politics. How often have we heard "I'd rather vote Republican than vote for a Democrat who supports (fill in the issue du jour)? How many times has the Sierra Club endorsed Lincoln Chafee, a moderate Republican who is environment-friendly in his own work, but votes in lockstep with the Republican majority in their efforts to install federal judges who routinely hand down bitch-slaps to the environmental protection community?

More locally, we've seen this in relation to two issues - sports stadia for Democrats and abortion for Republicans. "I'd rather vote Republican than vote for a Democrat who supports stadiums"...."I'd rather stay home on election day than vote for a Republican who won't fight against those baby-killers".... sound familiar? Single issue candidates lose, folks. Single issue groups do not win elections, and single issue parties do not survive long in politics. Compare stadiums to education, to health care, to metro transit - vehement stadium opponents on the left would rather have a Republican in charge of those? Compare abortion to taxes, to national security, and yes, to education (Republicans care about it too!) - is turning an incumbent out on his or her ear over that one issue worth risking the middle of the political spectrum voting --gasp-- Democrat?

Unfortunately, I think the blogosphere does little to mitigate this problem; if anything, we tend to worsen it. In a medium that was intended to bring people together, finding our individual voices too often allows us to demand that political leaders convey each of our personal positions, damned be he who disobeys. I'm not saying we should all give up our pet issues - we should push them as hard as we're willing and able to achieve a better future. But to say you'd rather see a member of the opposite party in office solely on the basis of one issue - that's just silly, folks.

Blogger lapis said:
Good post. Good reminder.
Blogger dandykins said:
Let us not confuse "ideological purity" with having standards for candidates. One of the big problems with the Democrats nationally is not that they can't compromise on issues. It's that they compromise too much. People are looking for Democrats with backbone, who actually stand up for what they believe in. The worst part of series of the series of Bush initiatives that are crippling our economy, our education system, Medicare, our environment, our civil liberties, and more is that--you guessed it--Democrats voted for many of them. And now, with Bush's approval ratings in the high twenties, Democrats have suddenly found a backbone. Nice of them to finally join the rest of the country.

So, to bring this back to a more constructive question: how do we maintain candidate "quality control" without running into the ideological purity issue? Paul Wellstone demonstrated that winning and standing for something do not need to be mutually exclusive.

Here in Minnesota, we've consistently picked the gubernatorial candidates who have been "in line" for quite awhile. How about putting some value into substance, for a change?
Blogger jjrcat said:
Which stadium opponents would rather have a Republican as a governor than someone who supported stadiums? When did they say this?

Can you direct me toward the bloggers who have made these ultimatums?

Which DFL candidates in which races do you see as vulnerable to this one-issue attack? Which DFL candidates are a single-issue candidate in opposing stadiums?
Blogger lloydletta said:
Steve Kelley is very vulnerable on this issue. The reason is, he caved to the stick it to Hennepin County stadium only tax. If he'd kept the metro tax - and kept transit in the bill, he'd have gotten something.

The Stadium bill he allowed in the conference committee also stripped the provision to exclude local units of goverment from the marginal sales tax increase - which means this raises local property taxes.

This bill is wrong - if the Twins are a statewide asset, the whole state should pay.
Blogger lloydletta said:
Mark H on Lloydletta's Nooz was strongly critical of Steve Kelley on this issue.

I agree with Mark's post completely.

I thought Democrats were for schools and libraries. If so, then why does the stadium have priority for Steve Kelley over Schools and Libraries?

He's spending big political capitol on the stadium - and I really would like to know his reasoning behind it.
Blogger grassrootspower said:
The only reason I can think of for Kelley's championing of the stadium bill now--which is incredibly unpopular among DFL activists, who presumably will be making up most of the delegates going to Rochester--would be to court the Building Trades endorsement. I could be wrong about this, but I think they've held off on an endorsement, and I have to imagine this would be an issue they'll be looking for friendly candidates on.
Blogger MN Campaign Report said:
I'd tend to dispute the contention that Senator Kelley is in trouble over the Stadium deal, and not just because of my well-documented bias in his favor. MnpACT would tend to agree, although they make the caveat that it's a more complicated matter than most of us tend to want it to be:
But check out the next post up for more thoughts, here and at
Blogger jjrcat said:
It's a long shot that Kelly would get the building trades endorsement, since Mike Hatch is the hands-down favorite among labor leaders. For the building trades, a big plus in Mike Hatch's favor is Hatch's forcing rural JOBZ programs to pay prevailing wages. Pawlenty was trying to screw outstate construction workers and Hatch beat that cheap labor idea back in October.
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