Thursday, March 23, 2006

Another Vichy? Please Help Decide

Following is a comment posted over at Unclaimed Territory that caught my eye:

"I believe we have problems here that will take major overhauls to fix. Obviously I prefer to see republicans tossed out this November, but it might be just as important to make sure the Democrats feel the pressure to respond properly to public input or be replaced by someone willing to do her/his job."

Anyone who wants to do *precisely* this very thing should support the congressional candidacy of Marcy Winograd.

Marcy is running a primary challenge against Jane Harman, in my own district: CA's 36th. The 36th, FWIW, is a safe Democratic seat (Kerry carried the district in '04: 60%-40%). I don't even know if the GOP is gonna bother to run a candidate this year (two years ago, the GOP offered only token opposition: a school teacher who paid for his entire candidacy out of his own pocket). For better or worse, the winner of this Democratic primary WILL be the winner of the congressional seat.

The seat's current inhabitant, Jane Harman, is one of the key Democratic supporters of the president's illegal warrantless eavesdropping program. She was one of the four Democratic members of Congress briefed years ago on the nature of the program, and who chose to remain silent. And when the program was finally exposed, Jane Harman voiced her outrage... not at the administration for engaging in this program, but at the NYT for daring to speak of it.

Marcy Winograd, by contrast, is an outspoken opponent of this program, and will immediately vote to halt warrantless spying on all Americans. She estimates that 19,000 Democratic votes on primary election day (June 6, IIRC) will carry the day over Harman. That's 19,000 votes from the progressive communities of Venice, Mar Vista, West LA, Torrance, etc. This can be done.

To join me and my family in volunteering your time, money and energy to the doable task of evicting Jane Harman from Congress, and replacing her with someone willing to provide, you know, Congressional oversight, please check out Marcy Winograd's campaign websites:

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

I'm never over-anxious to label a Democrat a Vichy; there are plenty of relatively conservative Dems who are good party members and aren't Bush enablers (and, unfortunately, relatively liberal Dems who hurt the party). But in primaries where there's a great challenger against a marginal or bad incumbent, I'm glad to take the challenger's side.

I could use help from my readers on this one; even if you're not from California, please research the candidates and let me know your thoughts. My questions are: is Harman bad? How bad? Is Winograd good? How good? Are the state party and/or DLCC trying too hard to affect the race, as in Ohio and Pennsylvania, or staying neutral, as in the Cuellar-Rodriguez contest in TX-28? If it's neutral, should it be? And most of all, should we take a stand?

If the consensus is that VichyDems should actively support Winograd over Harman, then we can help publicize the race, ask Winograd to post a guest blog, etc.

What to do?


Patrick Meighan said...

Patrick Meighan, here.

First of all, lemme say, I don't even happen to be a Democrat. I'm a registered Green and, as such, am unable to vote in this primary, which will almost certainly determine who my congressperson will be for the next two years. I have no special interest in promoting the interests of the Democratic Party, as compared to any other political party. My interest lies solely in being represented by a congressperson (regardless of his/her party registration) who happens to reflect my progressive values, and those of my family and my community (Venice, CA).

That said, lemme tell any Democrats reading this that Jane Harman, in 1998, referred to herself as "the best Republican in the Democratic Party." She does not deny this. Jane Harman is an official member of the Blue Dog Democrats, a coalition of self-described "conservatives." Jane Harman is one of the few Blue Dog Democrats who is not from the Deep South. Jane Harman voted for (and continues to support) the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act. And, as mentioned above, Jane Harman is an active and key Democratic supporter of President Bush's warrantless spying program. 6 of Jane Harman's top 7 campaign contributors are Defense Contractors.

All these things may have made sense back when Congressperson Harman originally represented the 36th district (1993-1999). But since then the district has been gerrymandered to make the 36th a gaudily-safe Democratic seat. This gerrymander specifically removed the rich, conservative enclave of Palos Verdes from the district. At the same time, it expanded the district to include the ultra-liberal community of Venice, and the quite-liberal communities of Mar Vista and West L.A. As noted above, Kerry trounced Bush in this new district, 60-40. And, as noted above, Harman's last GOP challenge was a token one, in the form of an unfunded schoolteacher without even the most rudimentary campaign experience, who ran to the *left* of Jane Harman on several issues. Make no mistake: the 36th IS LIBERAL.

Jane Harman, however, continues to legislate as though she still represents the *old* 36th District. When I called her office last year to complain about her support for a constitutional amendment to bar flag burning, I noted to the phone-answerer that I'd expect such representation if I lived in Ogden, UT, or Pocatello, ID, but that it's confusing given my residence in Venice, CA. The phone-answerer responded, "Well, she also represents El Segundo." Indeed, Jane Harman clearly feels a much greater affinity for the more conservative (and lower-populated) vestiges of her old district than she does for the more progressive (and higher-populated) centers of her new district. It's time to remove Jane Harman from Congress and let her return to the tiny conservative bedroom neighborhoods for which she feels such affinity.

Harman's opponent, Marcy Winograd happens to be the President of L.A.'s chapter of Progressive Democrats of America. She supports single-payer health care, opposes capitol punishment, will vote to remove the troops from Iraq immediately, will vote to impeach the President, and is endorsed by Tom Hayden, by Gore Vidal, by Helen Caldicott, by many others.

Marcy is getting into this race a little late, and some unions and clubs have already rendered pro forma endorsements of Jane Harman. In three cases, already, Marcy Winograd has met with representatives of said organizations to urge a revocation of their Harman endorsement, and an endorsement of the Winograd campaign. In all three cases (the UAW, the UTLA, the Westminster Democratic Club) the organizations have, in fact, pulled their endorsements of Harman and endorsed Marcy instead. And she's just getting started!

This can be done, folks! 19,000 Democratic votes on primary day (June 6th, I believe) will do it. And it will send an unmistakeable message to every other "Vichy Democrat" in Congress: fight for our progressive values, or we will replace you with someone who will.

I hope you climb on board this campaign.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA
Volunteer for Winograd for Congress

see also:

lucretia said...

I hope you get Harmon out. She does real harm. She not only reaches across the aisle, she plants her butt over there. Is she conservative? I don't know. To stay elected does she have to go so far to please that auful southern California district? If so, what matters?

Anonymous said...

To stay elected does she have to go so far to please that auful southern California district?

From what Patrick says, the district has been redrawn, and is now solidly Democratic.

One question I have is how she functions within the party. On really close votes, will she abide by party discipline? In other words, is she an enabler, or merely a conservative?

Not that that decides the issue by itself, but it's one of the things I like to look at.

lucretia said...

I object to leaning over to the floor without justification to be 'fair.' It's simply wrong.

Please list the "relatively liberal Democrats who have done harm to the Democratic Party." Give us their names and what they did, and the consequential harm that ensued.


Anonymous said...

Please list the "relatively liberal Democrats who have done harm to the Democratic Party." Give us their names and what they did, and the consequential harm that ensued.

Lucretia: I'm tempted, at least, to cite Hillary. As you pointed out in another thread, as President she likely would mellow. And when she's not angling for the Presidency (e.g. her Iraq war vote and flag-burning bill), her views are generally pretty liberal: she's pro-environment, pro-national health care, pro-social services, etc.

But those views don't make her a good Democrat in my book, because via the DLC she's putting election above principle, shutting others out of the game, and compromising her principles on symbolic votes.

If Harry Reid would get with the program and show some leadership on things like the Alito filibuster and the Feingold censure, then I'd support him even though he's a "conservative" pro-life Mormon. And even though Hillary thinks like me on most issues, I don't support her, because she's fighting against the best interests of the party in so many ways. That's all I'm saying.

More generally: you sound angry today. Whazzup?

Anonymous said...

Jane Harmon is a classic DINO. About 8 years ago she left congress to run for governor. In that race she was a virtual republican. Her record in congress,both before and after this, has been extremely spotty. She has been on the In telligence Committe for sometime and has never taken a stand against Bushite activity. She has been an ouspoken supporter of the Iraq fiasco and the Patriot Act.

lucretia said...

Re. liberal demos also do harm,etc. I'm angry because the Right-Wingers with their framing have somehow put into the general parlance 'both sides can go to extremes.' That's quite clever. When has a liberal/left candidate and/or office holder gone toward any kind of 'extreme?' Democrats fall right into that trap all the time repeating this type of characterization of views. And it's not true. That's how I related to your statement.

I can see by your answer you're thinking of something else. I never see Bill and Hillary as roaring liberals. Many times in office I wished Clinton was better. Then after he left office, and the primaries came in 2004 and I saw Howard Dean for the first time, I fully realized the tremendous difference.

To me, Hillary is no longer a liberal, even though it appears long ago she was. Her stands for the environment and national health (I like universal health care better) are just that. Where she is on social issues must be worrisome to her, because she goes where (she thinks) the wind blows.

She's definitely a hawk now, which is a mainstay of the DLC, and once you tear away Oz's curtain on the 'war on terror', there will be little there to worry about. No. I don't consider her liberal any she going to reach out to single mothers with children, does she stand for educating blue collar workers for the future's challenges so they can become more prosperous in society, will she support cutting back on defence and thereby seriously curtailing defense contacts (big question here: can laissey-faire capitalism survive without lots of expenditures in defense contracts?), will she work to make higher education affordable for all who want it(just like high school), will she work to keep a serious balance between after school playgrounds and development? A lot of these items are so subject to attack, it's not for the feint hearted, and the right has the attack mode down very well, unless and until the public gets rid of its tin ear.

Lindyann said...

Marcy Winograd, who also happens to be president of Progressive Democrats of America, has been endorsed by that group. To read PDA's reasons for its endorsement, go to and click on "endorsements".