Friday, August 17, 2012

Well, so much for that idea.

I had been talking up the Democratic 4th District nominee for Congress, Sen. Eric Stewart of Belvedere as a relatively decent shot to upset one-term Tea Party Republican Scott DesJarlais in the re-configured district.

I hadn't sent money yet, since what little I have I want to give to West Tennessee candidates.  I didn't think all that much of the Stewart campaign's plans to force DesJarlais to debate, because it looked like they were chasing him from a position of weakness.  It might have been better to get one of the Nashville or Chattanooga TV stations to sponsor one and have THEM invite the Congressman, making it more difficult for him to back out.

Well, DesJarlais pretty much told them to pound sand, and from a political professional view, that makes sense.  If you are perceived as the leader, you don't want to debate your opponent if possible, because it elevates them to your level.  I digress.

Well, I noticed something in the DesJarlais staff response to Stewart to the effect that Stewart refused to say for whom he would vote either for US Senate (understandable at this point) or for President (WTF?).  Really?  The Dean himself wrote about this today.

Look, I know that even if President Obama went through the streets of Shelbyville healing the leper and the lame, people would boo and jeer him there.  I understand that.  However, Senator Stewart has apparently forgotten, as so many other rural Democrats have, under what party banner he is running.  If you didn't want to be associated with a Democratic President, then why in the hell did you run for Congress as a Democrat?

One of the reasons that Democrats are under siege in the South is that they won't stand up for who they are or what they believe in.  This does not help Democrats establish their brand, or define themselves for the voters.  If you refuse to define yourself, your opponents will be happy to do it for you.

It appears that Stewart's campaign has decided to follow the same blueprint as former Congressman Lincoln Davis's campaign of 2010.  Too bad for Stewart that Davis got crushed in 2010.

I have an announcement: If Tennesseans want to vote for a conservative candidate, they will vote for a Republican.  Period.  End of story.  Blue Dogism died a fiery death in the 2010 elections and effectively ended any chance that a conservative Democrat will be elected for the next 20 or 30 years.

That effectively leaves moderates and liberals for Democrats to reach for votes.  This means that you talk about economics and point out how the GOP House members are keeping jobs from being created by not supporting the President's plans.  When you talk about social issues, unless you frame it to your advantage, you are playing the Republican's game and it is NOT a game any Democrat can win.  No more tribalism, people.

Which leads me to my last point regarding Stewart and his campaign.  In the Humphrey article, there was this little bombshell:
Stewart presents himself as a conservative on some issues. For example, the senator said he is opposed to same-sex marriage, noting Tennessee voters approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman."I stand with the voters of Tennessee," he said.
So, we have a Southern Democrat opposed to the concept of civil rights?  Welcome back to 1954.

So, you ask, how is he supposed to answer any questions about that?  How about this, for a start:

"Well, given that the voters of the state put in a constitutional amendment to ban it, what could I do about it? And let ME ask YOU something:  How many jobs does banning gay marriage create in this state?  How many?"

Then you let it drop.  People might not agree with you at first, but the seed will have been planted and some of those folks will start to actually THINK about it.  Then they will appreciate that YOU thought about it and didn't just give them some bullshit placation.

Stewart's comments, and the attitude behind them, even more than the incompetence at the TNDP, are the reason we find ourselves in such bad shape outside Memphis and Nashville.  I once championed Eric Stewart, but no more.  Thank heavens I have Steve Cohen.

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