Posted by: ogenec
In the wake of last night’s contests, Washington is involved in its favorite parlor game: declaring winners and losers. Politico says the activists won. And, sure, that argument has superficial appeal: Rand Paul prevailed over McConnell’s hand-picked candidate; Blanche Lincoln is in a dogfight; and, perhaps most telling, Sestak beat Specter like a drum. Much to the chagrin of the White House.
But isn’t the real lesson — so far, little remarked upon — that “all politics is local”? To my mind, the famous Tip O’Neill statement was never more true than yesterday. Sestak beating Specter had, I think, more to do with reflexive aversion to the White House imposing Specter on the local electorate as if from on high. Even from my far-removed perch, it struck me as quite arrogant for Washington insiders to decree who the local representative should be, especially when the hand-picked candidate is not a Democrat, but a Republican seeking shelter from the Tea Party maelstrom. In that sense, the WH took a well-deserved loss. They should learn from it: Nobody appreciates having their mind made up for them by the party apparatchik.
But, elsewhere in PA, Mark Critz won the special election for Jack Murtha’s seat. And he’s no activist darling: he’s opposed to the Obama agenda, would have voted against health care, and is anti-choice. Hardly the poster boy for progressives. And yet, he won. That is further proof to me of the “Big Tent” theory: Democrats win, and will retain their majority, when they elect Dems who represent the cultural make-up of their districts. Whether they adhere to notions of progressive orthodoxy is, frankly, irrelevant.
So I applaud Sestak. But I also applaud Critz, despite the fact that his views are so different from mine. And I hope Blanche Lincoln pulls it out in AK. The Republicans are on a party purification bender, but I see no reason for Democrats to join them in that foolhardy endeavor. Especially when wins like Critz’s portend that the rumors of the Dems’ death in November are, like Mark Twain’s, greatly exaggerated.