Friday, May 19, 2006

Daily Kos' Anti-Chuck Vibe

Why do so many people on Daily Kos hate Chuck Pennacchio? Honestly, throughout the campaign, Daily Kos--a community dedicated to getting democrats elected--has been full of vitriolic anti-Chuck rhetoric. (Isn't it ironic that they are fervent supporters of Ned Lamont over Joe Lieberman)? Every time I wrote a diary about Chuck [here, here, here], trolls would instantly pounce on me in the comments section, calling me an idiot. Usually. their arguments were rather ignorant, but nonetheless, hostility toward Chuck was and remains rampant on Daily Kos. Now, this diary on Kos reacts to Chuck posting his supporters' comments on his website. Unfortunately, for the diary's author, a few of them criticised Casey:
Pennacchio chose to take the low road...Now I find no fault with the commenters, they were sharing personal feelings with a candidate they belived [sic] in. I do however find it irresponsible for the Professor [sic] to post negative comments on his site. It is in no way prodcutive [sic] or helpful to the goal of dicthing [sic] Santorum. We need Chuck Pennacchio to get behind policy positions that he shares with Bob Casey, not continuing to point out their differnces [sic]. I'm calling on Chuck to put an endorsement for Bob Casey on his website, will Pennacchio supporters do the same?
The author of this diary--obviously, he has never heard of a spell checker--has a real problem with Chuck posting comments critical of Casey on his site--boo hoo. Chuck and his supporters oppose many of Bob Casey's positions; that's not going to change. Chuck has not come out for or against Casey; he is simply posting the views of his supporters, some of which criticise Bob Casey.

There's even a poll about whether Chuck went too far (go vote). Let it go man; some people just hate Bob Casey and will not stand to vote for someone whose values are so foreign to the Democratic base. While I think that we should vote for Casey in November for strategic reasons, as enumerated here, not everyone shares that view. Sorry that you guys no longer have a real Democrat to attack, but Pennsylvania's progressives are not going to suddenly fall in love with someone to to right of Arlen Specter, because Chuck lost the primary.

Hat-tip to Jaekos.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Becoming Change

The flow of election returns for the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania's Democratic primary preceded my emotional cascade. All of the day's jubilation and optimistic projections were at once crushed under the weight of Bob Casey's boundless endorsements and multimillion dollar war chest. Despite an army of grassroots supporters holding a fervent belief in his righteousness, Chuck Pennacchio lost his bid for U.S. Senate, badly; Dr. Pennacchio only received nine percent of the votes. After twelve hours on my feet at the polls in a chilling rain, myself, a once proud idealist, returned home a dejected cynic.

Fortunately, for my sake, my cynicism did not last. While Chuck Pennacchio only received nine percent of the vote throughout the state, he captured a full third of the vote in Centre County, and won the Borough of State College by a healthy 16 point margin. Chuck Pennacchio didn't win State College by spending lots of money or diverting most of his efforts here; Dr. Pennacchio won because an organized band of passionate volunteers convinced the people of State College that he was the best candidate for Senate. If progressives can win in State College when the students have left for the summer, we can win anywhere. Barry Goldwater lost the 1964 Presidential election to Lyndon Johnson in a landslide, but it was in Goldwater's grassroots candidacy that the modern conservative movement coalesced. We progressives did not achieve our goals by defeating Bob Casey in this election; however, we created something far more valuable: an organized grassroots movement in Pennsylvania. Sometimes the greatest hope emerges from the most tragic of defeats.

Many Pennacchio supporters refuse to vote for Bob Casey in the general election, and I will freely admit that I don't want to vote for him. For a progressive voter, Casey is wrong on many--but not all--issues (stem cells, the war, gay rights, abortion, separation of church and state, judicial appointments, gun control, executive power, and universal health care). However, he is right on one key issue: voting for Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader. A Casey victory will bring the Democrats one member closer to majority control of the U.S. Senate. The benefits of Democratic control of the Senate will will far outweigh the regressiveness brought to the body by Bob Casey. Imagine, if the Democrats controlled the Judiciary Committee? (It's highly unlikely that Bob Casey would be on this committee). Samuel Alito's nomination would have never made it to the Senate floor. Nor would have the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. A Democrat controlled Senate could push through legislation that would raise the minimum wage, roll back tax cuts for the rich, and allow the government to negotiate drug prices. It could investigate the warentless NSA wiretapping and the intelligence failures run-up to the war in Iraq, whether or not Casey agreed to it. Although Casey will move the Democratic Party to the right, he will move our government to the left. While Casey is a social conservative, he is more liberal than Rick Santorum, and defeating Santorum will negate the influence of a powerful ultra-conservative. If the Democrats stand any change of regaining control in the Senate, we must win in Pennsylvania, which, unfortunately, means voting for Bob Casey.

No one should have to hold his nose to vote for a candidate, but politics are not games of pleasure, they are ones of strategy. Some will argue that the long-term harm to the party produced by Casey's election will outweigh the damage done by six more years of Santorum--that Casey's election will further an "if you can't beat 'em join 'em" mentality among Democrats, that stymies the creation of a real opposition party. Unfortunately, for the sake of progressives, the Democratic party has already moved too far to the right, and Bob Casey's election will not change that fact. Whether it be supporting the bankruptcy bill, Hillary Clinton's cuddling up to Rupert Murdoch, or the 34 Democrats who voted to renew the USA PATRIOT act, the Democrats are not going to lurch rightward with Bob Casey in office; they are already there.

The only significant way for progressives to move the Democratic Party back to the left is by becoming the Democratic Party. By uniting us, Chuck Pennacchio's campaign has carried us a long way toward achieving that goal; but we must remain active in politics and shape and affect our local parties throughout the year--not just on election day. Those perched at the top of the Democratic hierarchy are supported by the roots of local politics that we must become. Go to your local Democratic functions, run for precinct chair, donate $50 to a candidate in whom you believe; do anything, but do it often. Through a concerted gradual effort we can become the change we want to see in the Democratic Party.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Brief Results

Casey's corporate machine rolled over the little guys.

Casey: 84.5%
Pennacchio: 9%
Sandals: 6.5%

I'll have commentary and thoughts later, but I'm heading out to a double shift at work. Until then, here is Chuck's response:


Our 2006 Senate campaign was a critically important step in a larger citizen movement to restore Pennsylvania's politics to Pennsylvanians. Thousands of citizens in hundreds of communities across the state over the last thirty months have inspired me, time and again, to speak truth against a political system near bankruptcy.

My heartfelt thanks go out to each volunteer and every supporter who has given so much to advance our people-first politics -- Pennsylvanians who embrace meaningful reform over politics as usual. Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians are taking a stand for a better kind of politics. A politics built on the talent, imagination, and energy of Pennsylvanians. A politics that promotes the common good instead of narrow, big-money special interests and party bosses. A government that guarantees universal health care, a liviing wage, civil liberties, and a sane foreign policy.

The issues we care about are not going away, and neither are we. In the coming days and weeks I look forward to talking with my supporters and other Pennsylvanians as we decide together what our next steps will be.

Yours in solidarity,

Chuck Pennacchio

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Long Day at the Polls

I just got back from 13 hours on my feet in the rain...oy. These dogs are kickin'! Today, I definitely changed a few minds in Chuck's favor. Now its off to the Pennacchio after party.

Vote in Today's Primary

Today, May 16th, is the Pennsylvania primary election. I know that its probably raining, but get off your ass and do your civic duty. Our liberties erode on a daily basis, so please exercise your right (responsibility) to vote. Turnout will be low, so you won't have to wait in a long line. Polls are open between 7 am and 8 pm, so you can swing by before or after work.

As if it's not patently obvious, central Pennsylvania's foremost Cajun Jew is endorsing Chuck Pennacchio for U.S. Senate. Also, Valerie McDonald Roberts is my choice for Lt. Governor.

In the race for Centre County's two members of the state committee, I probably will be writing in candidates. Ruth Luse and John Saylor ignored the majority preference for Chuck Pennacchio by the Centre County Democrats (yes, that's true) and endorsed Bob Casey at the State Democrats meeting. Joanne Tosti-Vasey of NOW convinced Sandals to flip-flop on parental consent and notification for abortion. To all three, a solid middle finger.

The other big races in Centre County have no competition, but I am going to endorse Ed Rendell versus Write in Candidate for Governor.

Monday, May 15, 2006

We Democrats

Here is one last pitch for Chuck Pennacchio.

For what do we Democrats stand? Is it privacy? Perhaps it is equality and the separation of church from both state and science. Do we believe in protecting the environment? Do we favor diplomacy over preemptive war? Should we asking the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes? In short, do we believe in the common good?

For far too long in the face of fear, we have lived by a policy of appeasement. As the reactionary right has ascended to dominance, we Democrats have softened our beliefs to fall in line with Republican values. As Republicans have overtaken our elected majority by vigorously appealing to their base, we Democrats have asked ourselves the wrong question: Are we too liberal? Furthermore, should we pursue a more conservative path? Instead of reconnecting with our base--the people who would regularly vote for us--Democrats have sought to capture the less reliable swing-voter. While trending to the right, Democrats have falsely assumed that our base will automatically turnout on election day. The result, rather than being a viable alternative to the Republicans, has been a muddled Democratic vision attractive to no one.

The watershed moment occurred during the Supreme Court confirmation process of Samuel Alito. Replacing Justice O'Connor with Mr. Alito represented a genuine threat to the balance of the court. In an unsuccessful effort, 42 Democrats voted against his nomination. However, only 25 voted to support the filibuster of Mr. Alito. The 42 Democrats who voted against Alito's nomination could have stopped his ascent to the court by supporting the filibuster, but they didn't. 17 Democrats feared being labelled "obstructionists" by the right and voted against extending the filibuster. Instead of stopping a legitimate threat to the court, the Democrats, appeased the right and sold out their own.

Bob Casey Jr. represents everything that the Democrats should not be: conservative, disconnected with the base, and boring. Casey would make a wonderful challenger to Rick Santorum in the Republican primary. He opposes reproductive choice, universal health care, an Iraq exit strategy, stem cell research, a living wage and yes, he supported Samuel Alito. For good measure, Casey accepts money from scores of the same PACs as Santorum.

Pennsylvania's Democrats must avoid voting for Bob Casey Jr. in tomorrow's primary election. A Casey victory tomorrow will only serve to validate the Democrat's paradoxical notion that electoral success is contingent upon a slide--or in Casey's case a leap--to the right. While Bob Casey might be a marginally better Senator than Rick Santorum, there is no acceptable reason for a Democrat to vote for Bob Casey in the primary election. Primary elections are a time to vote for one's beliefs, not one's fears. Many people choose to stomach Casey, because they believe that he can beat Rick Santorum in November. While Casey has had a large advantage in the polls, his lead is slipping-drastically. Over the past year, Casey's lead has fallen from near twenty to less than ten percentage points. Casey's success in November is no longer imminent.

The only real Democrat in Pennsylvania's US Senate race is Chuck Pennacchio. Dr. Pennacchio is running a campaign free of corporate and special interest money, so he is beholden to no one but the voters. He supports reproductive choice, stem cell research, a living wage, getting out of Iraq quickly, and would have lead the Alitio filibuster. Chuck Pennacchio represents everything that the Democrats ought to be: progressive, charismatic, and honest. Two recent Zogby polls have found that Pennacchio can beat Santorum, so why should we settle for Casey?