The cat's out of the bag
Supposed "progressives" support Paul Hackett because Hackett hearts bloggers.
Progressive bloggers love Hackett because he is our partner in a radical plan to reshape political power in America. Politics makes strange bedfellows. But, when you get down to brass tacks, Hackett is an invaluable ally: he loves the blogosphere, understands how to harness the power of the blogosphere, and perhaps most importantly, he owes the blogosphere ...Please. Let's leave the blog triumphalism to the other side. If you want to prove the power of the blogosphere, there are plenty of good candidates out there who are actually progressives. Find one.
The reason to support Hackett over Brown is simple--if Hackett wins (and he can win), the progressive blogosphere makes history. A small, widely-dispered network of highly motivated amateurs and semi-pros will have delivered a US Senate seat. Hackett's election would mark a radical power shift in American politics, even if the candidate is less radical than some of us would like.
Hackett might kiss your ass, but it's because you're all so goddamned gullible that you'll fall all over yourselves raising money for him even though he doesn't represent your views. You might think he "owes" you, but good luck collecting on that debt. This is your "realpolitik"?
I repeat: Hackett's only appeal is the fact that he killed Iraqis. Why this should be appealing to "progressives" is beyond me, but there you have it (I suppose they think it will make Democrats seem tough). The liberal blogosphere adopted him during his congressional race against Jean Schmidt. This made some sense; he was running in a conservative district, etc. But there is no reason to accept him as a statewide candidate, especially over Sherrod Brown, who, while not perfect, would be a vastly preferable senator.
So let's pull it together, and stop acting like a bunch of love-struck teenagers.
...liberal bloggers would do well to read David Sirota on a regular basis:
...are we going to reward with support our ideological heroes - the people who have fought the lonely, unglamorous, unsexy fights over the years for our cause? Or are we going to abandon these fighters for flavor-of-the-week candidates whose image/profile looks great at the moment, but whose position on issues we know little - if anything - about? And if we abandon the people like Brown who have gone to bat for us over the long haul, what message do we send to all of our other allies in terms of what they can expect in return for sticking their necks out and taking the tough votes?
It's true - Hackett has said "you bet I'm progressive." And he has said "we need more straight-talking, straight-shooting politicians." But even when you look at his statements in his very short time in politics, it's difficult to see that he says those statements with much substantive conviction...
It's great that Hackett now, finally, supports proposals to withdraw - proposals that Brown has been pushing for months. But just this summer, as Brown and his colleagues were pushing such an exit strategy on the floor of the House, Hackett came out against that kind of proposal in a very high-profile, public way. Mimicking President Bush's derisive language towards those who support an exit strategy, Hackett told one reporter we "can't cut and run."
... the simultaneous hyperventilating about Hackett's candidacy and downplaying of his inconsistent postures illustrates how parts of the grassroots left (perhaps confined to the blogosphere) are becoming all-consumed with this or that candidate's "profile" or "image" rather than substance.
...It cuts to one of the key reasons why progressives have been so locked out of the political process in recent years: because we don't make substantive demands of our leaders and back those demands with carrots and sticks like the grassroots conservative movement does with their candidates/officials.
If we progressives are ever going to do anything more than aesthetically change the political establishment; if we ever are going to move the system; if we are ever going to enact substantive changes in policies, we must focus with laser-like intensity on the actual substance of candidates when awarding - or withholding - our support. It may seem great to some if we only elected Democrats who were big macho cowboys or hardened war veterans or burly truck drivers. But would we have really changed things on a substantive policy level if these candidates only looked the part, but ended up not being willing to substantively challenge/change the political establishment once elected and thus empowered to do so?
In other words, if we want stronger stands and more concrete positions from Democratic candidates/officials, we have to resist the temptation to look at politics as just some sort of infotainment based only on things like looks, glitz, and image. Instead, we must look at where our leaders actually stand and support those who have been fighting and have been consistent on issues even when we weren't looking. Because if the grassroots doesn't do that - and simply rewards style and sizzle over actual substance - we offer no incentives for our political leaders to do anything in office other than try to look cool, but ignore our concrete demands for them to change our country for the better.