new phil angelides blog
Some friends of mine have started a Phil Angelides blog, independent of the campaign, with news, analysis and counter spin.
I'll be contributing occasionally. Check it out. Here's my first post:
From Connecticut to California
Liberals and progressives have been rightfully juiced-up by events in Connecticut this week. Tuesday night was a good one for everyone who cares about the future of the Democratic Party, or, more generally, about our country’s dwindling reserves of goodwill world-wide. With the nomination of Ned Lamont, Connecticut Democrats are saying that they want a real alternative to Republican foreign policy. That’s a good thing.
The race for Governor here in California is another such moment. In some respects, in fact, it is even more crucial and decisive a struggle for progressives than the nutmeg state’s Primary. After more than 20 years of ideological retreat, concession and incoherence, we have a candidate for leadership of the nation’s most powerful and populous state who offers a serious break with conservatism. It is one thing to campaign against an unpopular war in New England. It is quite another thing to campaign for progressive tax policy and massive public investment in the state that pioneered the Middle Class tax revolt. That takes a special kind of courage.
Nominating Lamont sent a strong message to Washington that we want Democrats to unify around opposition to the war. Our fight doesn’t stop there, however. We also want Democrats to be able to win elections and govern based on principles we could recognize as progressive. Republicans don’t only dominate discourse about foreign policy. They set the tone and the parameters of debate on the economy, labor issues, and a broad swath of social policy as well. For the medium, and the long-run, it is this sweeping hegemony that we need to uncrack. Foreign policy is important, especially given the carnage caused by our failed mission in Iraq. However, we have steadily lost ground in the war of ideas and rhetoric surrounding our most basic values as Democrats: equity, fairness and social justice.
That’s why Phil Angelides’ campaign is so damned important. His platform, which combines progressive taxation, the leveraging of state pension assets to encourage green production, and a renewed and honest commitment to education is the most progressive this State has seen for decades. It is, finally, a rejection of voodoo economics and the radical under-funding of public goods.
It’s also clever politically. The campaign targets the core justification of the Republican Party’s existence in California. They are in the clear minority on social issues, and Californians do not trust them to provide quality education, health care or to protect the environment. Low taxes are all they’ve got. If there is one thing that Karl Rove has demonstrated, it is the efficacy of aggressive campaigns which hit the opposition right where they think they are strong. Rove’s approach is sleazy and ad hominem (Swift Boat Vets), but it’s deadly. In an infinitely more principled way, and relying on sound economic policy, Angelides is also taking the fight to the Republicans.
The wealthy and giant corporations have been getting a free ride for too long. It is this free ride, not teachers or administrators or public employees which has bankrupted California. Instead of taking this issue head-on, Republicans continue to borrow from our grandchildren in order to educate our children. It just doesn’t make sense. A victory based on these arguments will be a fundamental defeat for the conservative movement. We can’t honestly say that about too many Democratic victories nowadays.
Unfortunately, just like in Connecticut, some California Democrats refuse to get with the program. Several big-donor Hollywood moguls have pledged their support for Arnold, including Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and “Power Rangers” importer Haim Saban. More destructively, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s campaign co-chair just announced in The Chronicle and The Times that she’s voting for Schwarzenegger because she’s “sick and tired of paying taxes.” Fellow Governor Phil contributor Conan Neutron has put these folks “on notice." Rightfully so.
Good politics should chart a course, not merely triangulate a path of least resistance. It is this notion that is on the ballot in November. If we are serious about building a Democratic Party that stands on principle and wins real and not merely fleeting victories, we’ve got to do all we can to elect Phil.