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The Democratic Party's Secret Weapon

by: The Caped Composer

Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 1:40 PM EDT

(Cross-Posted at Senate Guru)

All of us here are optimistic about our prospects in a Democratic year, yet we have repeatedly voiced concern about the precarious nature of some of this year's down-ballot races.  In a Democratic year, why are Oregon and Maine such long-shots?  Why is the picture so unclear in Colorado?  And, more importantly, what can be done to fight the prospect of more Republican victories down-ballot?  Well, I've got an idea, and I know that a handful of others in the blogosphere agree.  I hope it echoes across the Internet and reaches the ears of the top campaign strategists for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (I'm hoping for Obama as the nominee)-- pick Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer as the VP candidate, and the prospects of Democratic victories brighten all across the country.  Whenever I mention Schweitzer's name, people inevitably respond, "But Montana only has three electoral votes!"  By focusing on electoral math alone, they miss the point; if all we think about is electoral math, we are doomed to a future of precarious, one-vote majorities-- nowhere near strong enough to pass progressive legislation and undo the damage of the Bush administration, which will take years.

With that in mind, I say the national ticket needs not one, but two galvanizers who can make campaign stops that whip up the crowds and help the down-ballot candidates.  On that count, Brian Schweitzer is our party's secret weapon.  He is a fantastic orator-- second only to Obama himself in the party-- and has a proven ability to resonate with Republican and independent voters. He can definitely help us pick up some Rocky Mountain states-- with him on the ticket, Colorado is ours, and the coattails of an Obama/Schweitzer ticket would undoubtedly pull Mark Udall over the finish line-- and we could pick off Nevada and New Mexico as well.  Oregon would become more solidly blue (improving the chances of Merkley or Novick,) as would Washington State (solidifying Gov. Gregoire's re-election chances).  Furthermore, while I doubt we would win Arizona, we would at least force John McCain to fight us on his home turf, which would cost him time and resources, and give the national GOP a headache (ahh, schadenfreude!)  

"But wait!" you say, "What about those rust-belt states that we need to win?  Hell, what about New Hampshire and Maine?"  To which I say, the aforementioned independent and Republican voters to whom Schweitzer has appealed have been rural and/or working-class citizens who don't want their jobs to be outsourced, are worried about the economy in the wake of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and disapprove of the way the war is going, but who want to keep their hunting rifles.  You think there aren't voters like that in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania?  Of course there are!  Those are the very voters who swing those states, and Schweitzer is exactly the candidate to persuade them to vote Democratic!  

As for New Hampshire and Maine, Schweitzer's fiercely independent, non-dogmatic persona will resonate quite well with the numerous independent voters who might otherwise consider McCain.  The libertarian streak that runs through the Mountain West is not all that different from good old-fashioned Yankee independence.  Furthermore, Schweitzer took a bold early stand against the Real ID act.  Make some campaign stops with Tom Allen and use that issue as the centerpiece and . . . who knows?  We might just be able to unseat Susan Collins.

For those who don't know much about Schweitzer and might worry that he's some sort of DINO, relax-- he is pro-choice, pro-civil union, and VERY pro-environment.  In fact, he has successfully re-framed the environment issue as "conservationism," not "environmentalism," and it has worked-- people who hunt, fish, and participate in other outdoor activities want to preserve the natural environment in which to do so. Under Schweitzer's stewardship, Montana has been at the forefront of wind energy.

So, if you agree with me on this, I exhort you to spread the word, write blog posts, and even e-mail the Clinton and Obama campaigns.  I figure that, with a concerted effort, we can at least familiarize more people with his name.  Hey, it can't hurt, right?

The Caped Composer :: The Democratic Party's Secret Weapon
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I like the concept
And I'd also add that if you're looking to make inroads into places which could be good for the Democrats (both on a presidential and on state and local levels), why not take a governor from a seemingly red (yet potentially competitive) state like, oh say, Kansaa cough Sebelius cough. In addition to possibly throwing Kansas into play, it would help out Boyda and Moore, plus could give a boost to Slattery going against Roberts.

Politics and Other Random Topics

24, Male, Democrat, NM-01, Chairman of the Atheist Caucus, and Majority Leader of the "Going to Hell" caucus!

Kansas not Kansaa :P

Politics and Other Random Topics

24, Male, Democrat, NM-01, Chairman of the Atheist Caucus, and Majority Leader of the "Going to Hell" caucus!

[ Parent ]
I'm hesitant about Sebelius . . .
. . . for several reasons.  First off, if her nauseatingly awful response to the State Of The Union is any indication, she's a horrible speaker.  Second of all, she has won both her terms as governor because of a split GOP (between the right and the far right,) so if she can't win a plurality of the voters in her state, how will she help us nationwide? And, I think her presence on the ticket might seem like too obvious a ploy-- "Here's your consolation prize for Hillary losing, female voters!"

(I have serious reservations about a double-minority or minority + female ticket.  As hopeful as I'd like to be, in reality I think it might be one barrier too many for most Americans, especially older ones, to overcome).  

[ Parent ]
a plurality
She won 52%-45% and 58%-41%.  

Liberty Avenue Politics - a place for politics in Southern Queens

[ Parent ]
Schweitzer would be on my shortlist, but he's not without his problems.

Firstly, he made comments last year speaking favourably of McCain, even suggesting he'd be prepared to endorse him. He can backtrack from that fairly easily (he may already have done so) but it'll prevent him from taking an attack dog role.

Secondly, describing him as very pro-environment may be misleading. He's certainly sold his brand of environmentalism to Montanans, but that's a brand which also include significant enthusiasm for such things as 'clean' coal - and with Obama dodgy on that issue too, it'd be nice if the VP nominee were more realistic on the issue.

Don't know where you got your information, but . . .

. . . Schweitzer did not voice public support for McCain at all last year. In fact, he made an appearance with John Edwards at a fundraiser, and, when asked about endorsements, Schweitzer actually implied that if he were to endorse anyone, it would be his fellow Western governor, Bill Richardson.  It is true that Schweitzer spoke favorably of McCain . . . back in 2000.  Many of us on the Democratic side thought favorably of the Arizona senator back then, especially when we compared him to his rival for the nomination, who has, of course, turned out to be among this country's worst presidents ever.  I don't think Schweitzer's favorable opinion of McCain from all those years ago will be too relevant now-- especially since McCain has revealed himself to be another Bush clone, rather than the straight-talker who would break from party orthodoxy that he initially portrayed himself to be.

[ Parent ]
I have a few disagreements
Nothing serious here.  
1. Brian Schweitzer is key to continuing to build the Democratic party in Montana.  It is the same reason I reject Ted Strickland as a VP candidate.  This is important, because when Denny Rehberg retires, we may have the upper hand to take his seat back assuming Schweitzer and the Democrats in Montana to continue to deliver in the state government.  (Although I also boot Ted for being pro-life)

He's well on his way though, for example: Doyle was elected governor of Wisconsin in 2002.  In 2006 we took the state senate back, we won every statewide race except one, and we turned our congressional delegation from 4D-4R to 5D-3R.  In 2008 we will take the state assembly back.  

2. Pro-Gun vs. Pro-Gun Control.  Virginia Tech showed we have a ways to go to making public areas safe, and I don't think following the NRA's "More guns" plan is going to help us.  Granted, for his state he fits well. But if we're passing federal legislation, I'd rather have a Vice president working in the background, twisting arms, etc. for us and not against us.  

3. He earned a bachelor of science degree in international agronomy and a master of science in soil science.  He has the political experience to make up for it, but his specialty isn't an issue on the table in 2008.  

Regarding his experience . . .
. . . he put it to direct use in the political sphere.  It is precisely his background in international agronomy that has led him to his strong advocacy of energy independence, and the fact that he continually makes a point of connecting the energy issue with the Iraq war, explaining how they are inexorably linked.  It is also his science background that makes me trust him on the clean coal issue.  He has legitimate expertise in the field, rather than just being some politician who mouths off about an issue in order to get in with a certain industry or constituency.

Regarding the gun issue . . . I figure the issue could be cleared up by emphasizing the clear delineations between types of guns, since nobody goes hunting with assault weapons.  (And, let's face it, if someone comes walking onto a college campus or into an office with a rifle, the cops and security personnel are gonna notice.  Those things can't be concealed too easily!)  I just think there are a lot of voters who could vote our way based on economic issues, but are afraid that the proverbial "big government" is going to take their rifles away so they can't hunt.  I'm hoping that the Democratic Party can reinforce the fact that that's not what we're after, and we know the difference between deer hunting and murder.  

[ Parent ]
Why would they think that?
Liberal Senator John Kerry hunts.  He wouldn't take away his own gun.  

I suppose you could chop up the gun issue, but at that point it almost seems like we're going to have almost everyone on Iraq type of answer.  "Well I was for it, then I said specifically about this I was against it, but I'm for most of it, but... etc. etc."

[ Parent ]
John Kerry hunting????

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! Thanks for giving me a good laugh. Remember that ridiculous photo-op from 2004? Do you think that convinced anyone from the hunting demographic that John Kerry was one of them?  Hardly!  Like Dukakis in the tank, it had the effect of turning more people away from Kerry, as it looked ridiculous and contrived.  Kerry may well hunt.  But he can't connect with average voters.  Neither can many of our old party lions, which has been a continued problem when it comes to winning elections.  Schweitzer understands this, and has demonstrated himself to be a new kind of Democrat who actually can connect with voters.  And if that means modifying the gun issue a bit, so be it.  My hunch is that we'd keep gun control laws everywhere we need them (e.g. the cities,) while the rural areas would still get to hunt. A compromise could definitely be worked out, so I don't think it's an instance for worry.

As far as Schweitzer's galvanizing speaking style, check out this YouTube clip for an idea of what I mean.

[ Parent ]
I already saw it
It's the video Populista posted on your S2008G diary.  

Yeah, he's a good speaker.  That's probably why he's done a heck of a job building Montana's Democratic party.  They could use another four years of him.  

[ Parent ]
Here's an article for you about our secret weapon

Just shows how much Brian Schweitzer would love to be around Obama all the time.  

[ Parent ]
While that is disappointing . . .
. . . it doesn't necessarily throw the whole notion of Schweitzer-as-VP out the window.  After all, did LBJ have anything good to say about JFK during the run up to the convention?  Did George Bush Sr. sign on to the Reagan bandwagon ahead of time?  Yeah, I know, in both of those instances, the VP was picked from the ranks of the other contestants for president . . . but, my point is, presidential candidates have taken on VP's who have been critical of their policy proposals in the past.  And when they have been competing with one another for the nomination, the rhetoric has been far harsher than Schweitzer's criticism of Obama's plan.  

And, no matter who Obama picks, I actually hope it's someone who can, on occasion, disagree with him and engage members of the administration-- and the public-- in a thought-provoking examination of the issues.  That'll be a healthy direction for this country-- a far cry from the puppeteers and yes-men of the current administration!

[ Parent ]
There is always a catch.
When you have a cabinet full of yes men, it helps you accomplish your initiatives, but then you don't have any countering opinions.  When you have only people who disagree with you, it will be very hard to accomplish your initiatives, but you get differing opinions.  

The Vice President is probably one of the most powerful cabinet members.  I want a mixed cabinet.  I don't want a bunch of Obama-Yes-(wo)men.  But since the Vice President is one of the more important cabinet members, I'd rather be a purist with it.  And focus on someone who can compliment the "Change" message.  That is how we are going to beat McCain.  

[ Parent ]

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