Don't Vote for the One that Can Win. Follow Your Dreams and Your Dreams Can Win.
The 2008 elections are almost two years away, but now is the time when the stage is being set upon which a limited number of characters will dance. Inside the DC Beltway, elite power brokers are already wrangling away about who does and who doesn’t deserve the mantle of “serious presidential candidate.” If we non-elite Americans want to provide a populist counter to the elitist machinations, we need to carry our own conversation about who we’d like to see as a presidential candidate.
You may be making a choice in your mind between voting for a progressive candidate whose values you believe in and a candidate whose values do not match yours, but who you’ve been told “can win.” This is an appeal that DC insiders often use to promote their “pragmatic” candidates. The election of 2004 should be instructive in this regard. The experience we all had with John Kerry shows that sometimes, candidates who “can win” actually cannot win. And George W. Bush’s victory demonstrates that voters are willing to elect someone with an ideological agenda (albeit a misguided one) so long as it is promoted by someone who can project the appearance of resolve and confidence in that agenda. A lot of Americans want a leader who sets the agenda, not a sheep who follows the wind.
Do you hold your progressive values with confidence in your heart? Do you show that confidence, or do you cloak it? Throw off the cloak. Be who you are, and don’t be afraid to show confidence in your progressive ideals. It takes both moral and interpersonal courage sometimes, especially for those who espouse a value set that celebrates the right of people to express different opinions. But people includes you; you get to speak up just as much as those who disagree with you. So speak up in this new presidential election season and let people know in forums large and small just what matters to you. Then expect the same of your presidential candidates. Let’s look for someone who knows what she or he believes, can articulate those beliefs, and doesn’t spend all day bending over backwards and apologizing for holding them. Let’s do what we can to support an honest, forthright and robust progressive candidates, not just for president but for every office from canine control up through Congress.
Or, to put it more succinctly, if you vote your dreams your dreams can win.
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