by David Safier
Yesterday, AZ Blue Meanie posted his concern about Andre Cherny's participation in No Labels, given that he wants to be chair of the Arizona Democratic Party.
I just got off the phone with Cherny, who, I must say, is an extremely intelligent and persuasive guy. He talked me down a few notches from my earlier agreement with the Meanie.
No Labels sounds like one of those make nice, centrist groups that Democrats get snookered into joining while Republicans sharpen their knives and gird their loins for battle. Looking through the group's website certainly fuels that kind of concern in me.
On the other hand, a major purpose of the group is to find common ground among members of different parties and work towards solutions rather than retreating reflexively to party labels and us/them battles.
Republicans who voted with Dems during the lame duck session were discarding labels for that moment and working with the Democratic majority. They are still Republicans and will probably infuriate me again sometime very soon. But where they agreed with the Democrats, they voiced their agreement through their votes.That doesn't happen nearly often enough these days.
Back when McCain still had a bit of sanity left in him, he joined with Kennedy on a decent immigration bill and with Feingold on a decent campaign finance bill. All three senators discarded labels for the moment and worked together, even as they simultaneously fought tooth and nail over other issues.
Jim Kolbe discarded his label when he supported Cherny in the last election, as did Pete Hershberger and Jennifer Burns when they supported Giffords in CD-8 as well as Nancy Young Wright and Cheryl Cage in LD-26.
Should I fault these people for their actions? I think not. We need more of that, not less. From both sides.
The AZ Republican Party, with the exception of a few folks who are out of office, is Right Wing crazy on steroids. To say Democrats should work with them on their terms, or Dems should cave if they're tossed a bone with a few scraps of meat on it, is ridiculous. Dems should fight the insanity with every weapon in their arsenal. But don't we say we want a place at the table in the legislature so we can find some commonalities and possibly do some reasonable legislative horse trading? Don't Ds want their bills to get a fair hearing in the R-dominated legislature, which, for example, might have given Steve Farley's no-texting-while-driving bill a chance to be heard and to pass, to Arizona's benefit?
Here is what this blogger would like Andre Cherny to do. I would like him to distance himself from any leadership role in No Labels and simply be a participant in an organization which is for furthering dialogue. Rs shouldn't take "No New Taxes" pledges with a national organization. The AZ Dem Party Chair shouldn't take a "No Labels" pledge with a national organization. That being said, Democrats in the state must position themselves as a sane choice that can be supported by the center and the left, as opposed to Arizona Republicans whose extreme right ideology is loony tunes.
Go after Republicans, not simply because they're Republicans, but when their ideas are horrific. Agree to work together when there is common ground, if reasonable common ground can be found. If Republicans refuse to work together, use that against them. I can support an AZ Dem Chair who holds that position.
NOTE: I have a policy of not getting into Dem vs. Dem battles (the one exception being the Dem primary for Ed Supe where, as someone who writes on education, it seemed right to endorse a candidate), so this is not an endorsement of Cherny. I just wanted to post a counter argument to what AZ Blue Meanie posted on BfA.