There is the other progressive in the race, Alan Khazei, and I hope he runs for office in the future. A lot of my progressive friends are on board with his campaign, but I have two major problems with him: one, that on a practical level, he’s highly unlikely to win; and two, some of the missteps in his campaign, though understandable, make him look rather green. For instance, I applaud his stance on casinos, but the forums in which he brought the matter up were inappropriate, and also, irrelevant. The only power a Senator would have in the state debate about casinos is the bully pulpit, and a freshman Senator, not even much of that. A lower office would suit Khazei so that he can gain the experience needed to move further up, but I just don’t see the “ready for prime time” practicality necessary to make something happen in the mess of a Senate.
I am sincerely skeptical about Coakley, and moreso the longer this campaign goes and she listens to her consultants and “plays it safe.” That’s not to say she might not turn out to be a good progressive, but the manner in which she has run her campaign doesn’t showcase this potential whatsoever. She has failed to reach out to the grassroots, or the netroots, and I’m really kinda sick of the only way I actually hear about her campaign: ads on TV, and press releases to my email like every day or so. It would take very little for her to change the impression that we out here in the ‘roots have of her, but no effort so far. More’s the pity. I want to ask: How will she govern, if this is the way she runs?
Her reversal on the increase of troops in Afghanistan is nothing short of bewildering. First she says she’ll wait to hear the President’s evaluation (a “safe” though actually defensible position), and now, that the other candidates say they are against increasing the troops without a timeline for withdrawal, now she is. Way to stick to your guns.
Pagliuca is dismissible, if not for his gobs of money which makes him a household name now. Anyone else tired of Pags ads? Doth protest too much? His is a vanity campaign, except he has spent so much cash that he actually has a bit of a shot. My friend Ryan (who has endorsed Khazei) does a good job running down the reasons why this guy is in fourth place for the progressive vote. I have no use for a guy whose first indication of progressiveness is his ads on TV, when all his previous actions say something different.
But enough about why not to vote for the other guy. Why should you vote for Mike Capuano?
For me, it’s about the combination of practical attitude and steady principles. The man who held this seat for so long had a lot of both of these elements. Kennedy’s time in the Senate was about holding the line against conservative and neo-liberal policies, many of which resulted in the mess we are in today. A shift of the conservatives to the right corresponded with a shift of the Democrats to the right (even right of center) with devastating results. But not for Ted, and a vast majority of his constituents thanked him for it.
That’s why I want someone with similar principles, and similar practicality, to hold this office again. We need to adhere to our ideals…not because we want to be extremist, but because in reality, on issue after issue, we have the American people on our side. If we want to be rewarded with the trust of the people, we should stand for something. And then follow through.
Mike Capuano has a history of working with others to accomplish goals. He seems to know when to compromise, and when to stand firm. (Hint: eroding our civil liberties was one of latter.) Kennedy knew how to garner the respect of his peers, even as they took opposite sides on an issue. I believe that Mike Capuano is best able to replace that man who held constituent services as dear as passing a health care bill.
Finally, Capuano has shown he is of the grassroots. He has held event after event, out on the streets, unscripted. He is knowledgeable on the issues, answers questions from anyone, has deigned to interview with such rabble as bloggers and podcasters (gasp!), and generally displayed an attitude of listening as much as talking. He is down to earth and not driven by consultants (though I’m sure he employs some), and doesn’t apologize for being himself. All of these things make him the best Democrat to replace Ted Kennedy as our second Senator from Massachusetts.
(Edit: Crossposted from my blog, of course…)