Electing Better Democrats
Chris Bowers, a very well known and well respected blogger on our side of the aisle has been arguing over at OpenLeft that we need to start looking at electing better democrats and not just focusing on electing more democrats to Congress.
However, in Congress, there are now more than more than enough Democrats instead of Republicans to form a majority. To be precise, there are 236 Democrats in the House in seats that could otherwise be held by Republicans, and 49 Democrats in the Senate (plus two others who caucus with Democrats). Further, all indications are that in November, these majorities will grow substantially, providing Democrats will clear majorities in both branches of Congress of such size that Republican opposition could be rendered inert. In this situation, we are past the point of needing more Democrats in Congress. Now, unless we want a repeat of FISA and Iraq on virtually every issue, even under a vast Democratic trifecta, we have to work to make sure that we elect better Democrats.
He goes on to outline criteria he is looking for to fit into this "better democrats" notion;
Starting with our first seven candidates, Better Democrats will endorse those candidates whose victory, in our best estimation, will have the largest progressive impact on Congress as a whole. While there is no single criteria for our first seven candidates, there are several important factors we took into consideration. Endorsing The Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq helps. Being from a blue district that will be easier to defend helps. Also, being a woman and / or a minority helps, given that the vast majority of conservative in the Democratic Congress are white men. Even though it is a generalization and not a hard rule, electing more women and minority Democrats to Congress means electing more progressives. Further, Willingness to speak out against Democratic capitulation on issues like Iraq and FISA helps. Yet further, running a primary campaign against a conservative Democratic in Congress really helps. The candidates who most closely match these criteria will end up on the Better Democrats page.
I think most of these are good starting points to look at for both of our Democratic candidates and hope to revisit these points after I can round up some statements from them. If you have particular issues you are interested in let me know in the comments.