Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Darcy Burner: a vote for leadership

Election day is nigh upon us. This will be my final post on Darcy Burner's race, not counting election night coverage tomorrow.

This race for Washington's 8th Congressional District remains close. Very close. So close, in fact, that I will actually be surprised if we have a definitive result in this race at the end of the day tomorrow. More likely than not, the race will come down to the final tally of absentee ballots being mailed today and tomorrow.

If ever there was a race in which every vote mattered, it's this one. Don't stay home. Get out and vote.

It has been a long, long haul. I remember having lunch with Darcy in late January, 2007, after we each had taken some much-needed down-time away from politics to recover from what had been a very bitter, close loss. Recall, two years ago Reichert won by a margin of just five votes per precinct across the 8th district, in a win that was bouyed by something like six million dollars of last-minute money from the Republican party, and an Act of God freak rainstorm that flooded out major chunks of Darcy's strongholds in the northeast corner of the district. I asked her if she was going to run again. I didn't have to wait long for an answer.

The 2006 race did end in a heart-breaking loss. But if nothing else Darcy is a fighter and she didn't let it stop her. Where I think most people would have said "I've had it. I'm done. I tried, I fought the good fight, but now I'm going to get back to my regular life," Darcy Burner simply picked up and did it all again.

And did it a lot better the second time around.

It has been an honor to cover her second campaign here on the Advocate. Watching as she kicked off her Iraq study group in the summer of 2007, watching the results of that group six months later when she unveiled the Responsible Plan. Watching her build a formidable caucus of candidates across the nation who back that plan. Consider, if every candidate who has endorsed the Responsible Plan were to win, then after the House swearing-in ceremony in January, a caucus of Representatives who have pledged to bring this war to a responsible end would spring into existence, and that caucus would number just over 10% of the entire House of Representatives.

They won't ALL win, but no one can doubt that an awful lot of them will. Win or lose here in Washington's 8th District, Darcy Burner has given the nation that House caucus. That is a truly amazing and inspirational feat for anyone to have accomplished, let alone someone who hasn't even been elected yet. It is no exaggeration to say that Darcy Burner has done more than anyone in the entire legislative branch to bring this stupid, misbegotten war to a close. It would be a wrenching shame if Darcy Burner herself didn't get to finish the job by leading the caucus she built.

That's what this election ultimately comes down to: leadership.

It's not about Darcy's one vote in the House. That's important, yes, but let's be realistic. The Democrats are going to have a sizeable margin in the House after Tuesday, and votes in which Darcy's one Aye or Nay would be decisive will be rare.

This election is about putting someone in the house who is and will be an amazing and effective leader. Someone who fervently believes in the core progressive and democratic (that's democratic with a little-d) values that are shared by an ever-growing population within this district, values which have made America great and which can make America great again if only someone will stand up and fight for them in the nation's halls of power.

Darcy Burner is a fighter. And it's not secret what she'll fight for if given the chance: health care for all and the freedom for patients to make medical choices for themselves, without interference from government or insurance companies. Tax reform that levels the playing field for the middle class. A responsible end to the war. A clean environment for our children to inherit. American independence from foreign oil. A new economy based on the "greening of America," on creating sustainable and clean energy sources to power us into the next century.

But the race remains close. So, so close. It all feels too familiar: The polls show a statistical dead-heat, again. Tomorrow's forecast calls for rain, again. Reichert's campaign has gotten a big helping hand in the last days of the campaign from national Republican party money and PAC money, again. Reichert has gotten freebies and handouts from the local media, in the form of positive press that doesn't match his record, again. Darcy has fought a good, clean fight, doing her best to accurately represent her own positions and educate voters on Reichert's actual positions and record. Again. And, once again, Dave Reichert has fought dirty with smears, slanders, and outright lies in his own ads and mailers to distort Burner's position and inflate his own resume.

Deja-vu, all over again.

I take hope in two things. First, Darcy's campaign has run a tremendous get-out-the-vote effort. Her campaign has literally hundreds of volunteers working to turn out every vote that can possibly be cast. It has long been a truism in politics that whichever side does the best job getting out their vote, wins. So in this year when the Democratic Party has done an unprecedented job of GOTV efforts at the national level, it is wonderful to see that effort replicated at the local level by Burner's campaign.

Second, the way Burner and Reichert have run their campaigns closely mirrors the way Obama and McCain have run theirs: substance and issues on one side, smears and lies on the other. But as Joe Biden said sometime in the past couple of days, when one candidate has nothing good to say about himself, he offers up lies about the other. So I take audacious hope in the fact that, nationally, the smears and lies against Obama don't seem to be working. The electorate seems to be waking up to the fact that they're being manipulated, in the most stark and gross of terms, and they're not having it anymore. I can only hope that the voters of Washington's 8th District follow suit.

The GOTV-efforts, both nationally and locally, seem to reflect that same sentiment: people want the candidate who inspires them to take time out of their busy lives to volunteer. They're tired of candidates who just flings mud at their opponents hoping no one will notice how much filthier they themselves are.

Good luck, Darcy Burner, and Godspeed. Whatever happens tomorrow, it has been an honor to cover your race, and it was truly a privilege to mark my ballot on your behalf.


Blogger Daniel Kirkdorffer said...

I second that last sentiment.

November 3, 2008 1:50 PM  

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