It Matters.

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    ( – promoted by KathyinBlacksburg)

    (Originally posted at Daily Kos)

    I want to share with each and every one of you how I will be spending this coming Sunday, September 5th 2010.

    I’ll be knocking on doors.  I’m not going to lie – I’m going to have to make myself do this.  

    Since all politics are local, below the fold I want to provide some key facts about the Congressional race in VA-11, and my explanation of why I’m going to do my best imitation of an Olympic-caliber long-jumper to leap over my enthusiasm gap.

    More…

    Before I start, I want to acknowledge the strongly-held opinions of those who really favor Obama and Democrats and those who are strongly critical of Obama and Democrats.  I morph between the two camps personally.  I do separate “Obama” from “Democrats” in my own mind.  My personally held opinion is that it’s Congressional Democrats who are the root of the items with which I have issue, so I’m going to focus my attention in that regard.

    I don’t even live in VA-11, the district where I’ll be canvassing.  I live in VA-08, where, for all intents and purposes, the race is not competitive and the Democratic incumbent is likely to prevail.  

    VA-11’s Democratic incumbent is Gerry Connolly.  Although this is not my district, it’s still Northern Virginia and I still follow the candidates and officials in surrounding suburban and exurban areas.  I’m not going to sugar coat things here – Gerry Connolly is not especially my cup of tea.  He’s too moderate for me, frankly.  But I can’t ignore the fact that VA-11 was won by Republican Tom Davis in 2006 by just under 12%.  Not exactly a small margin.  I also can’t ignore that Gerry Connolly won VA-11 by almost the same margin – by all accounts, a dramatic shift in that district even with Davis having retired and not run as an incumbent.  As I see it, this particular district is vulnerable, and it’s going to take effort to hold it.

    But – you ask – is it worth holding?  I mean – of course it’s worth holding, so let me refine that question: to hold VA-11, can I square myself morally and ethically which putting in some foot power to help him hold the seat?  I had to do some research to answer that question.  I went to Connolly’s entry at OnTheIssues.org, always a go-to site for me when trying to figure out where a particular candidate stands.  First interesting this is this nifty little graphic they’ve added to some entries:

    They explain a candidate’s position on that graphic pretty well at the link above, if you’re curious.  So, Gerry Connolly’s a moderate Democrat who at least is closer to the “liberal” side of the spectrum than the “conservative” side of the spectrum.  But, for the record – they also list Blanche Lincoln as a moderate liberal.  So clearly I had more work to do.

    I found a nifty site that scores incumbents on progressive record, unfinished business, and regressive record.  They are defined in this way:

    Progressive Action:  support for legislation in the promotion of freedom, knowledge and security. Freedom is achieved when constitutional protections are respected and when people are treated with equality under law. Knowledge is pursued through rigorous support for science and education. Security comes from the protection of environmental resources, the strengthening of economic opportunity for people and the preservation of peace from erosion by wasteful, destructive militarism.

    Regressive Action: a pattern of legislative behavior that erodes freedom, knowledge and security. When constitutional protections are disregarded, when discrimination under law is fostered, when the pursuit of knowledge is abandoned and science overruled, when wealth for a few matters more than prosperity for all, and when “Yeehaw” becomes the articulation of foreign policy, our nation is headed in a direction that is not only morally wrong but self-destructive.

    “Unfinished business” is not defined but is listed as legislation on which a particular candidate has not voted either way.

    So just for giggles, let’s look at Eric Cantor’s scores:

    Progressive Action Score: 3

    Regressive Action Score: 60

    That means that Cantor has supported progressive legislation 3% of the time and regressive legislation 60% of the time.  I’m unclear, but I’m led to believe that “Unfinished business” would get the remainder of 37%.  In another area of the site, they have what they’re calling a “Net Congressional Score”, which is defined thusly:

    Our Net Congressional Score is the Progressive Action Score minus the Regressive Action Score; a perfectly progressive politician would earn a score of 100, while a completely regressive politician would merit a score of -100.

    Cantor’s is 57.  I’m surprised it’s that high probably owing to the “unfinished business” portion.  Interesting note: The most regressive House Member is Trent Franks (R-AZ) with a score of -92.  There are plenty of Democrats in the negative as well.

    So let’s move on to Gerry Connolly’s score under this method:

    Progressive Action Score: 55

    Regressive Action Score: 12

    Net Congressional Score: 43

    Internesting Note: The most progressive House Member is Bob Filner (D-CA) with a Net Congressional Score of 81.  Dennis Kucinich comes in at 61.  What most interested me on the Gerry Connolly’s score was the regressive actions, which are listed as such:

    Voted YES on HR 310 (Offensive on a myriad of levels)

    Voted YES on Motion to Concur on Patriot Act

    Voted NAY on Pingree Amendment to H.R. 5136 (to curb military waste)

    So ok.  This, coupled with what I considered some pretty public waffling on the healthcare reform efforts (he wound up announcing his support a day before the vote and voted YES) despite earlier on the record support for a public option.  My overall opinion of Gerry Connolly is as follows: probably what any of us would consider a typical establishment Democrat.  Not a progressive, though he has expressed some progressive points of view.  Those points of view, however, seem to shift with Connolly’s perception of where public opinion lies.  In short, he’ll likely move to where he thinks he has the best chance to get re-elected.  Not a singing endorsement by any means.

    But Gerry Connolly doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  For me, what I feel about him must be tempered by context – and that context is the relative odiousness of his challenger.  

    Who is his challenger, you might ask?  Keith Fimian.  His website is, of course, all flowers and light.  He’s a business leader – owner of U.S. Inspect, LLC, a Home and Commercial property inspection company that services 18 US states.  I’m sure he made a KILLING during the inflation of the housing market.  He’s one of 7 children, worked for KPMG before founding his company, married to a high school sweetheart with three children of his own, one of seven children himself who went to school on a full athletic scholarship and was captain of the football team.  Stuff like that.

    But what’s Fimian’s real story?

    Courted Tea Party support and vows to repeal healthcare reform

    Opposes a woman’s right to choose; opposes embryonic stem cell research

    Wants a constitutional amendment allowing states to ban abortion

    Refuses to state his position on social security privatization

    Some of the most damning evidence comes from his own website:

    Healthcare:

    Our healthcare system is the best in the world because it fosters innovation and excellence, and consumers have real choices regarding their medical care.  Most Americans like the coverage they have.  I oppose the Pelosi-Connolly government run healthcare system.

    Do I even have to comment on the “best system EVAAAHHH” argument?  Straight Wingnut Talking Point (SWTP).

    Jobs (edited down to include the theme of each item but not complete text):

    1. Eliminate the capital gains tax on start-up companies…

    2. Pledge that income taxes will not be increased…

    3. Freeze Government spending…

    4. Suspend the Federal Unemployment Tax until unemployment falls to 5%…

    5. Cut the payroll tax in half for small businesses until unemployment is reduced to 5%…

    6. Approve the free-trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama…

    So… tax cuts extended for the rich.  The moneyed class gets more tax breaks, and then a few more.  More places become areas where we can offshore jobs.  Check.

    Protecting Our Values:

    – Pro-Life

    – Traditional Marriage

    – 2nd Amendment (guns are good)

    Dog-whistle SWTPs.

    Fimian’s entire entry on the “Issues” can be found here – there are many more than I’ve listed.  Suffice it to say that he wants a tax freeze and a spending freeze.  Yet oddly, on the subject of the military, he wants to give the military what it “needs”.  Unclear is whether or not he’s giving them their “needs” from frozen funds, or if these funds aren’t to be frozen or WHAT.  

    But even if all of that hadn’t been there – if I hadn’t been able to find all of that information, one thing would have done it for me in scoring Fimian: His endorsement from Ken Cuccinelli, the ultra right wing, anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-choice, anti-immigrant racist Virginia Attorney General.  This is the same Cuccinelli who’s trying to sue the government over healthcare reform and who recently said that he believes Virginia has the right to regulate abortion clinics and other fun, wingnutty things (if you are still unfamiliar with Ken Cuccinelli, check out all the diaries and stories written by Kossacks and FPers on the subject).

    So on Sunday, I’ll be canvassing for Connolly. I think I’ve laid out my thought process well enough for each of you to conclude that his politics aren’t really where I would prefer.  But honestly? What’s happened in Virginia in the past year could become prophetic for the upcoming election.  In June of 2009, Virginia’s Creigh Deeds won the Democratic nomination for the impending November 2009 Governor’s race.  I was involved during the Democratic primary with progressive Brian Moran’s campaign, and I was less than enthused by Deeds generally – he makes moderate Democrats look conservative in my opinion, and he’s too milquetoast and didn’t work very hard to get elected.  I rather think that the two big personalities – and the two doing the most fighting – Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran – had the unfortunate effect of just splitting their own portion of the progressive vote, which allowed Deeds to slide in for a win.

    That had pretty dire consequences, obviously.  The very progressive left in the Northern Virginia area really was pretty disaffected by Deeds.  Deeds himself didn’t help – he ran a lousy, shitty, lackluster, waffly campaign.  This fed into the overall lack of energy in the area we needed to turn out most, Northern Virginia – our own enthusiasm gap (so to speak).  Some soldiered bravely on, but not enough.  When the race was over, Bob McDonnell emerged victorious.  Bob McDonnel – anti-choice (even with rape and incest), anti-equal rights, anti-immigrant, pro-business, anti-healthcare, pro-Confederacy, slavery-denier, anti-woman – Bob McDonnell.  And others just like him swept in on his coattails.

    Today, I wish I had worked harder for Creigh Deeds even though he aggravated the hell out of me.  Because believe me – here in Virginia, Bob McDonnell is a nightmare.  I won’t make the same mistake with our Congressional candidates, Gerry Connolly included.

    I know many of you would tell me that I am selling out.  But you know what – I’ve been living for almost a year in an example of what I think could happen nationwide if we don’t find ways to narrow the “enthusiasm gap”.  It’s almost like being in Virginia is an omen – a harbinger for what might lie ahead.  And I for one won’t sit by while it happens and regret my own actions after the fact.  What you choose to do is your business and I’m not trying to tell anyone that they “should do” this or “should do” that.  I’m merely offering food for thought – as goes Virginia, so goes the rest of America?

    I certainly hope not.