Barney Frank recently came out and criticized the candidate running against Congressman Michael Capuano as wasting energy by challenging a good progressive incumbent. Barney Frank is right.
This has nothing to do with whether that candidate has a right to run against Michael Capuano. Of course that candidate has a right to run against Capuano. The question is, is this the best use of the resources of the progressive movement at this particular time in history?
The answer is no.
People sometimes make the blanket statement that more people challenging incumbents is inherently good for democracy. But is this true? It is not.
You can have a wonderful, healthy, primary battle that appears to improve the health of a party, and then end up with a weakened candidate who gets beaten by a Trump-like candidate. If such a victor then dismantles democratic protections, or the civil rights of all citizens to vote, or the social safety net, or public education, how is that good for democracy?
For me, what matters is whether people get better access to health care, a decent job, a decent standard of living, a decent environment, and are protected from terrible public policy. That’s more important than the internal health or vitality of a political party.
So the question is not about whether an incumbent is entitled to an office. The question is, what is the greater good?