Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Progressive Dems deny Van Hollen

It isn't often that a non-endorsement is the lead of a story. But last night the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) local Montgomery Chapter voted to not endorse any candidate in Congressional District 8, where Chris Van Hollen is the three term incumbent and he faces perpetual candidates Deborah Vollmer and Lih Young. If there was one issue that turned the endorsement it was the war in general and specifically whether we should impeach those that got us there.

Ms. Vollmer and no-show Dr. Young may say "I am gaining on Van Hollen and therefore it is time for new leadership". Nothing could be further from the truth. Using Instant Runoff Voting and needing 2/3 to secure the PDA endorsement the only real choice was would the MoCo chapter of PDA endorse Chris or not. On the fourth ballot, "not endorse" finally edged out Chris to meet the 2/3 threshold.

Before I go any further I want all to know that I was an early supporter of Chris Van Hollen and I still support him. So my vote was never in doubt.

I also understand the frustration of those on the left who feel betrayed by the Bush Administration and their conduct of this war. We want to hold accountable those that got us there and feel frustrated by the lack of progress on getting after those who got us in this mess. They will be gone come January 20, 2009 and we will still be in Iraq trying to paying for and clean up from Bush's mess. As one PDA member said when I pointed to her "impeach them" button and asked why it did not say "both" she replying it was more than Bush and Cheney. She's right. There are a whole group of war minded zealots who should be sent to prison for their behavior.

Left picture: PDA member Sue Wheaton makes her point on impeachment; Right picture: Candidate Deborah Vollmer responds as Chris Van Hollen's Legislative Director, Bill Parsons looks on.

PDA has a seven point plan for reforming Congress and the White House and nowhere is impeachment on that list. Chris meets all seven points for reform. He is even the first chair of the DCCC to support election reform while leading the fund raising arm of the House Democrats. But it shows you the power of this one issue and anything that allows for continuing funding of Bush's folly and our country's burden.

That was the endorsement vote in a nutshell: end funding asap and impeach those that got us there. And to dismiss this as old fashioned enmity would be to misjudge the rancor that the left feels about being viewed as unpatriotic for wanting to find peaceful, less costly foreign policy solutions to the mess this administration has brought upon this country. And when the so called "left wing" media such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and the major networks marginalize the left it boils over. We know that the numbers limit what can be done procedurally in Congress but seeing these yahoos getting off scot free is even more infuriating. We had a referendum on the war in 2006 and it looks like it will take another election to finally change things.

Moderate Democrats may also want to marginalize this issue but beware that this fury goes far beyond the reaches of a small but passionate group of progressive Democrats. I have seen it among rank and file than are nowhere near this close to the action. But it is there.

Tonight the talk will be about Hillary Clinton and her resurgent campaign. Others will become experts at reading the national polls from the upcoming primaries. But to ignore this betrayal is to miss the disconnect that many feel with their government and with those that claim to speak for the people.