Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"Renewal: How Progressives Move Forward "

Jim Dean:
Democratic candidates did not win in November because the voters wanted them to be on the left, center, or right of anything. They won because the voters wanted change and were willing to gamble that commitment can triumph over experience. It is not an accident that a number of Congressional winners come to DC with something other than politics as their chosen profession. People like Jerry McNerney, Carol Shea-Porter, Joe Sestak, and others, all bring real-world experiences and talent to meet the challenges of our broken healthcare system, misguided national security policies, and a more-of-the-same energy policy. We need many more like them in Washington, and we need many more like them to run for office all over our country.

How can we continue this effort?

First, the new talent in Congress will need our help over the next two years. They are moving into an environment where the legislative agenda is too often decided by K Street, not Main Street. They are already overwhelmed with expectations, and the ceremonial minutiae that is Washington, DC. They will also be overwhelmed by a culture of incumbency that continues to avoid tackling important issues by framing them in terms of the irrelevant "left versus right" debate. We need to help our new representatives by having their back when we need them to stand up to the avalanche of earmarks and DC quid-pro-quos that do nothing for voters. And we need to get them re-elected in 2008. Don't be shy.

Secondly, we will have the chance to influence hundreds of municipal elections and three gubernatorial elections in 2007. You won't read or hear much about these races, but many of the candidates represent the key building blocks of citizen support in newly turned congressional districts. They are also the key to bringing in a new group of leaders who understand that renewal needs to be part of our political culture if we really want to turn this around.

We are one - maybe two - cycles away from having a political leadership whose priority is actually to serve the public, if we are willing to do the work to make it happen.

So let's get it done in 2007. To help our new Congresspeople, and to work on the 2007 elections are the most important things that we can do to win the White House in 2008, renew the Congress, and - most of all - bring our Democracy into the 21st century.

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