The netroots have been pleading with national Democrats for years: If we want to revive the Democratic brand in areas that haven't been receptive to us for some time, then we need to harken back to our roots and tap into the deep vein of economic populism that runs through this country's proud history. Yet over the years, too many Dems - fearful of accusations of "class warfare" - have instead sought solace in DLC "third way" politics, alienating both their base and potential converts with a naked embrace of "free" trade, bankruptcy "reform," and tax cuts for the very wealthiest.
A handful of standout elections in 2006, however, lend a lot of credence to the blogosphere's view of things. In particular, Jon Tester and Jim Webb won impressive victories in red territory, in large part on the strength of their populist appeals. In a must-read op-ed that appeared in the WSJ shortly after election day, Webb offered a scathing assessment of the growing economic schism in this country, and declared that Congress's first priority had to be working "to bring true fairness back to economic life."
Travis Childers also understands that this is job number one. His platform is an unflinching defense of the needs of ordinary Americans. On the economy:
Our leaders should have been thinking of the economic problems we face today when they passed unfair trade deals that sent our jobs overseas, gave billions in subsidies to big oil companies, ignored the home mortgage crisis, and kept spending as the deficit and national debt hit all time highs.
The social safety net:
Travis will fight to protect Social Security , oppose privatization, and expand in-home care programs for seniors.
Travis Childers will fight to improve the quality of healthcare, while lowering costs for working families. He supports expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), which will provide affordable healthcare to tens of thousands of middle-income children in Mississippi.
And these aren't just statements plastered up on an out-of-the-way website. Childers takes this kind of talk with him on the campaign trail:
"We need to quit depending on foreign oil," said Childers, who is also Prentiss County's chancery clerk. "We need to start depending on ourselves and explore alternative energy sources."
"It seems like everyone in Washington is concerned about everything but working-class families," he said. "I'm concerned about working-class families. I'm concerned about north Mississippians."
Everywhere he goes:
"We need to strip away the subsidies from ExxonMobil and Big Oil," Childers said to a question about high gasoline prices. "They're not going to get a lot of sympathy from me."
It's regular folks who have his sympathy - and that's why Travis Childers needs our help. But as with Iraq, a Childers victory can send a clear message: that running on a populist message works. At the same time, it will help drive a stake through the heart of stale, pernicious DLC-style politics. Childers can continue the line of victories that began with Tester and Webb and show Democrats that the way to bigger majorities this fall requires that we meaningfully address the concerns of average Americans.
As you saw up above at the beginning of this post, ActBlue has deployed a new fundraising thermometer to help us keep track of our goals. (The old-schoolers among us will remember the grand old days of the Dean bats.) And it shows a welcome sign: Because SSP readers dug deep, we hit our goal of $200 today. So let's try for two more goals today: Let's get to (at least) 40 total contributors, and let's add on another $200.
This is money Travis Childers can really use - no strings attached, no costs in raising it, and no time wasted on the phone dialing for dollars. So let's get him some of this good green!