On November 2nd, Missouri voters head to the polls for the most crucial election since the 2008 election that put Barack Obama in the White House. It's been a stressful two years, for a number of reasons. The primary reason is that the national Republican Party cynically decided, from the very beginning, that they would not cooperate with the Democrats on anything, even bills designed to put Americans to work or extend unemployment benefits to people who desperately needed help. Republicans bet on the fact that people vote against incumbents when they are unhappy, and they succeeded in doing everything they could to make people miserable. Billionaire right-wing extremists kick-started the tea party movement who introduced a nonstop display of screaming, pouting, foot-stomping, and offensive rhetoric into the political process, which further soured people on politics.
Though Republican obstruction was the primary reason for the difficulty of the past two years, obviously the Democrats deserve some criticism. So called "centrists" (more accurately referred to as Democrats In Name Only) significantly watered-down and outright blocked key legislation even when Democrats had a majority in the House and 60 seats in the Senate. Even mainstream Democrats were way too willing to cooperate with Republican attempts to stall, and as such allowed them to drag out the healthcare bill for almost a year. Democrats have caved to Republicans in cases where it seemed like they didn't need to, and have often failed to be as outspoken and blunt as progressives would like.
But even with these failings in the Democratic party, there are a number of reasons why we need to be involved in these races. First of all, we did pass key healthcare reform legislation that will reduce the deficit, expand health coverage to 32 million Americans, strengthen Medicare and Medicaid, and make health coverage more affordable for all of us. We passed a stimulus bill that saved up to 3.3 million jobs and strengthened investment in green jobs and infrastructure. We passed financial reform legislation. We withdrew troops from Iraq and took a more sane approach to foreign policy, in spite of neoconservatives screaming for us to bomb Iran.
And even if you don't think that these accomplishments are motivating enough for you to feel like you should reward the Democrats with your effort, consider that rewards and punishments are not limited to the Democratic Party. If Republicans take back the House of Representatives and/or the Senate, we effectively will have sent the message to them that the most cynical, dishonest, unethical type of politics is completely effective, and we will be encouraging them to continue doing it in the future. If keeping people miserable from '08 to '10 works to kick Dems out of Congress, why wouldn't it work to kick Obama out of the White House in 2012? Not working for Democrats is the same as rewarding Republicans.
One of the most obvious races where this applies is the Robin Carnahan vs. Roy Blunt Senate contest. Carnahan has ticked off progressives by moving to the right on a number of issues. And not just moving to the right, but moving on issues that seem to go against her own narrative against Blunt, like supporting tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Be that as it may, there is no quetion that a Senate with Robin Carnahan is far, far better than one with Roy Blunt. Carnahan cares about the environment, cares about union workers, and genuinely cares about the people of Missouri. Blunt, on the other hand, really is the "Worst of Washington." He's been in D.C. for 14 years, was connected with the convicted criminal Jack Abramoff, and was in the leadership of the Republican Party during the years marked by corruption, the turning of a national surplus into a huge deficit, and a needless war. Do we really want to reward Blunt for his behavior with a seat in the Senate? I don't. You can sign up for Robin Carnahan's campaign here.
If Robin is still too moderate for you, consider that Republicans are poised to win back the House of Representatives, which would unfortunately result in the loss of Nancy Pelosi as our house leader (and she is one of the few Democrats who really has stood tough during the last two years). Ed Martin, a dirty campaigner and a dirty public servant, is running a loud, if not effective, race against Congressman Russ Carnahan. Some people don't like Congressman Carnahan's calm demeanor, but he is a leader on environmental issues and on public transportation, whereas Ed Martin is a global warming denier who has a vested interest in big oil due to his wife's $100,000+ in Exxon stock. Sign up to help at Congressman Carnahan's website here.
Lacy Clay probably has a cake walk, but if you don't believe me you can check out his website here.
The excuse that you're tired of political dynasties and D.C. insiders also does not work. Tommy Sowers is running a spirited grass-roots campaign against Jo Emerson. He's in a tough district, but it'd be hard to find a better candidate. Click here to help him out.
And finally, for the most pure, most idealistic Democrats in existence, the amazing Arhur Lieber is running a progressive campaign against Todd Akin that is so pure that he won't even accept donations because he's disappointed in how money has corrupted our political process! If you are a progressive, Lieber is the real deal for you. Why not help out his campaign to send a message you can be proud of?
Oh, and for those only motivated by spite, please donate a few dollars to Congressman Phil Hare's campaign so that the dishonest tactics of the St. Louis tea party don't flip a congressional seat. Could you really live with yourself knowing that the House of Representatives fell into Republican hands because of a successful lie by the St. Louis tea party that went unchallenged?
If you're not into national races, there are a number of important local races as well. Democrat Charlie Dooley is competing hard against Republican Bill Corrigan to keep his County Executive Seat. The tea party smeared Dooley and vowed to defeat him for supporting public transportation. Help prove them wrong here.
There are also a number of important races for the Missouri Legislature. Barbara Fraser is a progressive running to follow in the footsteps of the amazing Senator Joan Bray. It is incredibly important for progressives to have a strong voice in the Senate, and Fraser can provide that. Help her election campaign by clicking here.
A great candidate for State Representative is Debra Lavender. She's a true blue Democrat and is running against Rick Stream, who is waaay too extreme for his district. Get involved here.
Another excellent progressive candidate for Missouri House of Representatives is Genise Monticello. Support her campaign by going here.
If you're not that into supporting candidates, consider the following. A billionaire is trying to use the statewide ballot process to gut the budgets of St. Louis and Kansas City by eliminating the earnings tax. This would cut key city services like public safety, and would shift the tax burden to the people who can least afford it. Do you really want one man with a lot of money to be able to push around our city? If not, please get involved with Say No To A.
And finally, if you've made it this far and still don't care about getting involved in the elections, don't get cocky yet. Because there is a proposition on the ballot that would help to end cruelty against dogs if it passes. Yes, dogs. Could you really, possibly, scandalously, be so cold-hearted as to sit out the political process even when there's an opportunity to help puppies from being harmed? If you are, I'm not sure why you're reading this blog. If you're not, you can help out by going to the Yes On Prop B site.
I submit that if you are a genuinely progressive person, an activist, or someone who cares at all about making the world better, you have no excuse not to start doing something to affect the November elections. Whatever issue you care about, there is somebody or some ballot that will be voted on in November that makes a difference to that issue. You might have an out if you are already working on some other form of activism that you think is a better use of time than these elections, but for everyone else there's no excuse* to not get involved.
*Obviously excluding extreme situations or demands in one's personal life. But TV doesn't count!