I’ve been a supporter of Melissa Bean since 2003 at least and I certainly wouldn’t say that replacing her would end up with a better Member of Congress from IL-8. Also, most readers know I don’t go much for litmus tests for Democratic candidates, but I have to agree with Matt Stoller that we need to do something about the Democratic Congress Members who are passing things like the bankruptcy bill and more importantly, the expanded authority for wiretapping without a warrant under th FISA law.
In the case of IL-8 we aren’t likely to get a full throated progressive, but it’s a significant problem that Bean has voted for issues trying to appear moderate that do not have the support of the political center even in her district. More than that, the 38 people Matt list are mostly in Republican leaning Districts, but even these votes aren’t in the center of these Districts–they are well to the right.
With Bean this is especially relevant. It’s true that her district is more concerned with taxes and budgetary issues than many others, but neither the bankruptcy bill nor the FISA changes are popular. They do get the attention of the Tribune which Bean uses to demonstrate she is a ‘moderate’ and so she ends up seeking their approval on everything. She’s not going to change the triangulation pattern–it’s a winning strategy in that District, but I think she can be moved towards targeting different issues that aren’t nearly as destructive as these. In other cases, we just need to take people out–like Lipinski who is in a 59% Kerry District and votes horribly on just about everything.
However, in the case of Bean and presumably her consultants, we need her to be a strong voice for basic Constitutional Protections–protections gutted by the new version of FISA. We need her to not be voting for a bill that makes those in financial trouble because of sickness or the loss of a job even more vulnerable. We need her to stand up against torture. We need her to stand up against an incredibly unpopular President who not only got us into an unnecessary war, but continues to epically mismanage the war. When she does support such policies, she undermines the reason for Democratic control of Congress and the Presidency, but also, and more importantly, the country.
In a District like Illinois 8 I would never advocate a Democrat try and be Jan Schakowsky. I’ll give them slack on tax and budgetary issues. I’ll give them some slack on social issues to some degree. I’ll give them slack on trade to some degree. But I won’t give them slack on issues of fundamental fairness and Constitutional Rights. These are winning issues in all, but the very most conservative areas and even IL-8 isn’t that conservative. Warrantless wiretapping of American citizens is not a winning issue with the public.
Go out and prove you are a ‘different’ kind of Democrat on some issue like taxes or business issues, but keep the Constitution safe and the same protections for the poorest amongst us that the better off have.
If you cannot stand for these vital principles, then what’s the point?