Go Sestak

I rarely get enthused enough about a candidate to give them money, but the last six years have definitely changed my sense of the urgency involved in getting the right people into power. I’m a registered independent. I could give a fig about the Democrats in and of themselves, and I’d be the first to say that the party as a whole remains fairly adrift and confused. Adrift and confused is a massive improvement over the current standard of leadership in Washington, though.

Still, I like the Democratic candidate in my own district, Joe Sestak, quite a lot, and gladly wrote a big check to him. Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings makes the case very well. It’s not just that Sestak seems thoughtful and tough-minded where it counts. It’s also that Curt Weldon, our current representative, is basically everything that I despise in politics. It’s not just what he stands for, it’s the way that he operates, his erratic, unresponsive, unaccountable manner as a public official. Not to mention some of the indecent, mean-spirited conduct of his current campaign. This is a guy who complained about the medical procedures Sestak was using to treat his daughter’s cancer.

Character does matter to me. It’s one reason I never cared for Clinton. I care about respect for process, about fair-mindedness, and about ethical consistency. These are all reasons I’m an independent: I want to commit to whatever candidate exhibits those virtues, and stay miles away from any who flagrantly stand apart from them. I can’t stand the proposition that I’d have to show party loyalty to a complete scoundrel–I think any politician in this state ought to stay a million miles away from Vincent Fumo, for example. (On the other hand, I’m not stupid: Santorum’s attempt to deflect attention from his own K Street complicity by just dropping Fumo’s name in relationship to Casey isn’t fooling anyone, I hope.) For the same reason, John McCain lost me a long time ago: I won’t forget that he was a shill for Bush, and now is showing up trying to help people like Weldon, whom he ought to be running away from.

It would be nice to have someone that I can be proud of as my representative. Fingers crossed!

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5 Responses to Go Sestak

  1. Laura says:

    I really like Sestak too. I’ve met him a couple of times now and find him to be just a really sincere person. I definitely think he has integrity. They actually redistricted us – again – because Curt Weldon’s machine is worried about losing and they hope the confusion will prevent some of the voters from turning out. It also means I’ve lost my job as an inspector. :)

  2. bhamati says:

    I have a slightly tangential question about supporting a local rep.

    I live in a little, tightly-knit neighborhood in an urban downtown. We have a lot more clout in local politics than our numbers (around 120 families) might suggest. Partly this is due to our very active neighborhood assocation – we are a feisty and hard-working lot. (Historically, we’ve been fairly successful at fighting what I think is the good fight.) Partly this is due to the energy and resources of a young, urban professional community (time, savvy, etc.). Partly it’s due to the fact that we support our local pols – with money and votes.

    It’s the money that makes me conflicted, though. Like you, I feel we should support our decent local (Deomcratic) rep. He’s a good guy, and has worked hard on behalf of his district. But what bothers me, perversely perhaps, is how much of the fruits of his labor fall to *our* neighborhood’s benefit. Our fat checks of support seem, in my view, to buy us pretty direct payoffs: services, beautification, policing, etc. I feel he’s in our corner – but mostly because he’s in our pocket.

    Do you feel that supporting a rep of whom you can feel proud is fine even if (or perhaps because?) you feel you have benefited directly from his work? Do you feel Sestak will bring your district payoffs, and will you be delighted or discomfited to see and recognize them? Is this just a silly question? (I mean, some feel politicians are supposed to bring home the bacon, right?)

  3. Timothy Burke says:

    I think this is a big question in local politics. Some people definitely line up behind a candidate because of what he brings back, and truthfully, a local representative should be providing important services specifically to his district. For example, acting as a go-between between his constituents and the level of government that he operates within. And you don’t want a representative who is strictly a national figure, e.g., is out there on all the big-ticket issues but never has time for the small matters at home.

    On the other hand, I’m personally uncomfortable with too much of a quid-pro-quo, that for every vote reliably delivered, the provision of services to the reliable vote machine improves. That’s how old city machines worked, and it sounds great until you’re in a district outside the machine. When it moves into that territory, if I like the representative and think I have good access to him, I’d actually go ahead and ask about it bluntly at the right moment in a small but public setting, to get a feel for how the person handles the problem.

    At the fund-raiser I was at, Sestak was actually asked how the Democrats can run a consistently tighter ethical ship than the Republicans if they should get into power. He was pretty vague at first, but had some good thoughts as he went along. I think it’s a fair thing to push people on, especially in this region, where as Bill Bryson once noted, the “twin enthusiasm” for “corruption and incomptence” seems especially marked.

  4. Daniel Rosenblatt says:

    Just a general comment (or question?) on the whole issue of party loyalty vs. the qualities of individual politicians: It seems to me that to the extent that politicians have to (or at least do) display party loyalty then voters have to as well–especially in the context of congress: an honest, relatively decent Republican (there are still a few) still caucuses with Republicans, has to vote with them much of the time and contributes to making them a majority party with all the control over the legislative process that that implies. On the whole I think the political causes I care about are better served by a less personally admirable Democrat. In fact (turning to the issue of Senator Pothole type politicians), I think pandering to local interests is better served by a stronger role for national parties, as happens in a parliamentary system, where members generally have more at stake in the respect of their colleagues.

  5. rburns9519 says:

    Why bring Clinton into it. He would never, ever make the comment Welton did. He did feel peoples pain. The enemys he made in Arkansas, and who do anything to destroy him, who bigots who resented his actions on behalf of blacks. Clinton has alot of character and he’s flawed. The people you compare him to are evil and mean. Don’t do it.

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