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December 01, 2008

Why Can't We All Just Get Along!?

Homeprogdem_2 Welcome back to all you students who trekked home for Thanksgiving.  Today marks the beginning of the hellish two-week sprint to the end of the semester. Now's the time when words like "library," "Adderal," and "my damn professor" begin circulate more frequently in the university lexicon.

But mark this date:

Seven Days will be hosting a live debate between some important Progs and Dems following up on some voter concerns raised in the November election. Seven Days political columnist Shay Totten will moderate.

Here's the names: 
Donkeys — Rep. Johanna Leddy Donovan, D-Burlington, Jake Perkinson, Chairman, Burlington City Democrats
Moose — Rep. David Zuckerman, P-Burlington, Jane Knodell, City Councilor, P-Ward 2

Here's the details:
This Thursday at 7 at the Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center down by the waterfront at Lake and College.

I'll be liveblogging from the event with Seven Days Online Editor, Cathy Resmer.

Here's some links:
Seven Days - Facebook

Some more details, for the Facebook uninclined

In the most recent election Democrats and Progressives slugged it out (at least electorally) in several House races throughout the state — with one particularly charged race in the Queen City.

These races opened up some old wounds, and as a result many Vermont voters, post-election, still want to know whether the parties can work together, or if they'll remain stuck in a time-warp circa 1981.

Here are a few questions the election fracas raised:

• Should the two parties merge?
• Should the two parties create a joint primary system, perhaps utilizing IRV?
• Should the Democrats not run candidates against incumbent Progressives (and vice versa)?
• When they do compete, can they do so civilly?
• Has the Democratic Party become a more comfortable home for progressives?
• Has the Progressive Party run its course?
• Should Democrats be the only opposition to Republicans?
• Do Democrats need to change their party platform to address Progressive concerns?
• Are Vermont's Democrats comparable, ideologically, to the national party?
• With the Vermont GOP on the wane, will Democrats become more moderate?
• Should Progressives run in Democratic primaries (or vice versa)?
• Do the party's relationships differ in Burlington than they do outside of Burlington?

There is plenty of seating at the Film House, so bring a friend and your questions (no rotting fruit or veggies please). The first part of the forum will feature questions from the moderator. The rest of the questions will come from the audience.

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Comments

VTPROG

• Should the two parties merge?
NO

• Should the two parties create a joint primary system, perhaps utilizing IRV?

NO

• Should the Democrats not run candidates against incumbent Progressives (and vice versa)?

Progressives did play ball, Democrats CHOSE not to... so now we will run wherever we choose.

• When they do compete, can they do so civilly?

Progressives can and have... Dems... well, was running that useless turd for Governor civil, or sour grapes?

• Has the Democratic Party become a more comfortable home for progressives?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Um, NO.

• Has the Progressive Party run its course?

Not until the PP has grown to replace the useless Dems nationally... THEN, we will be done, lol.

• Should Democrats be the only opposition to Republicans?

Of course not, everyone should oppose the Republicans!

• Do Democrats need to change their party platform to address Progressive concerns?

DUH, yes.

• Are Vermont's Democrats comparable, ideologically, to the national party?

They cast their lot with them, they take money from them, they defend them... you tell me!

• With the Vermont GOP on the wane, will Democrats become more moderate?

If you mean fly straight out of a completely centrist position towards the hard right, then yes... they all already not "moderate", but assimilate all the positions of the opposition (going back to Clinton/welfare reform, etc..).

• Should Progressives run in Democratic primaries (or vice versa)?

Sure! I would love the chance to screw up their primaries and they have little chance of fooling progressives.

• Do the party's relationships differ in Burlington than they do outside of Burlington?

Who cares? The Democratic Party has no political integrity, that's the issue.... I don't hate people personally for being Democrats, but it kinda feels like knowing a friend is doing something stupid and immoral.. hard to not want to convince them they are hurting themselves and the country.

Skeptic

VTPROG's comment proves my original post to the question as to whether Dems & Progs "can get along"... there's zero room for discussion when the notion of simply belonging to the Democratic Party is viewed as "stupid and immoral." the irony of answering a question as to whether races can be run in a civil manner by calling the Dems candidate a "useless turd" is striking... Had Anthony agreed to run in the Dem Primary as was proposed, maybe things would've been different. But he was too loyal to the Progressive Party to do that... so loyal that he bagged the party label and ran as an Independent...

The list goes on.. If this session on Thursday leads to anything constructive, I'll be amazed. Sounds like an organized name calling session to me.

UselessTurd

VTPROG is psychotic. Was Pollina a "useless turd" when he threw his hat into the ring for Lt. Gov. in 2002 after Shumlin had already declared, with the end result being that we got Dubie?

Good work, there, VTPROG.

David Zuckerman

I think tonights discussion will be far more productive than any of the back and forth above. While I certainly hold some thoughts about why there should be separate parties and areas where the two have significant differences, there are also areas where we can (and have many times) worked together when the policy positions that the Democrats take are more progressive.

There are plenty of examples on both sides of the argument in the past with respect to who was first, who was second, who is in the way, who "deserves" to be able to run etc. Much of that is at least 6 years old if not more. Many of the newer generations of political folks on both sides have worked hard to work together where possible. Unfortunately there are some who hold baggage from the past...even as far back as 1981...and they are more than willing to dump gasoline, kerosene and any other flamable substance into the argument.

But most democrats and progressives that I know want to see us work together when we can. Many were scratching their heads about this fall and what happened. I certainly have my opinions and my grudges, but that does not mean that we can not move forward in a more productive way. At the same time...we are separate parties. Each with a valid role to play and I think some of that is what also needs to be defined tonight because I am not sure many voters (or those who care about this part of the "game") really have a clear idea of what "Democrat" and what "Progressive" really means anymore.

I think it will be good. We will certainly have our differences, but hopefully some of this can get aired out in a more productive manner.

Cathy Resmer

Um, Dave? The discussion is tomorrow night... Thursday...

SKEPTIC

Dave, your comment that Dems and Progs can work together "when the policy positions that Democrats take are more progressive" is a telling example of why this conversation will go nowhere. true consensus building requires both sides to any discussion to be willing to give & take. It appears that you only want to work together when it's in your interests, which I think is fine... that is, in fact, a great reason to have a separate party. Again, I see no long term, viable "work together solution" coming out of this discussion. Great to hear all the platitudes on both sides, but lets be real. Everyone needs to ask themselves: If "issues" aren't what separates D & P, then what does? There's got to be something otherwise there wouldn't be a need for different parties. Using "we agree on most issues" as a rationale for why Ds & Ps should "work together" ignores the fact that it's the process/philosophical differences that keep us separate. Have a great discussion tonight... just don't expect too much as a practical matter.

Scott

I'm really bummed I won't be able to make this event but I am attending another session down in Montpelier regarding this exact same issue. I'm sure that this will benefit the discussion on how we can "get along." Will this be broadcast on CCTV, as well? Anyone know?

Cathy Resmer

Scott,

CCTV is filming the event, and it should be available on their website by Monday... or so I'm told.

VTPROG

Well I certainly must have hit a nerve there about Symington... you forgot to read the words I wrote carefully and think long enough to figure out the actual meaning!

I don't think Gaye Symington is a "useless turd" because she ran for Governor. She proved herself to be useless as the Speaker of the House (exhibit #1: Catamount Health care... shall we go on?), when she did little to oppose the Douglas administration, WHEN IT COUNTED. THAT's why she is useless... and why it strains the limits of credibility for D's to suggest or even imply that *they* are acting "civilly" in this arena, when it was clear from the get go that Symington couldn't beat Douglas in ANY matchup, and her role was to be a spoiler in the Governor's race this year.

To review: Gaye Symington was a lousy Speaker, and is an ineffective leader who especially lacks vision, as well as most other leadership qualities. Useless. A bad choice for a candidate in the Governor's race. Chose to do it anyway. Turd. Others used the term "wet noodle", so to each his own. Dare you defend her abilities as either a candidate or Speaker? Then you are either stupid or deluded.

Sorry if you don't like it, but it's not ironic to answer the question that way.. the answer is: Progressives tried, in good faith, to work things out in many races, many times, and we were repaid, over and over, with treachery, lies, and bold political aggression. So the answer to the question is, No, we can't be civil because Democrats decided not to be.

For example... At the discussion last night, Rep. Donovan seemed to think that the 2002 redistricting/gerrymandering fiasco that cost Burlington a District was somehow the doing of Republicans and Progressives working in secret!

What an incredible rewrite of history! It was and is common knowledge that it was John Tracy and the "blue dog Dems" who engineered the final result as a personal payback to Bernie for supporting various candidates John had to run against... the seat was held by Carina Driscoll, who happens to be Bernie's step-daughter. I am surprised Johanna doesn't know this...

The biggest surprise of the evening had to be Rep. Donovan's frank admission that the D's strategy on the Health Care bill last time was WRONG, and that Catamount Healthcare is a fiasco. Gee, thanks, now can you DO something about that with your "party people"?

Otherwise it was the same platitudes about incrementalism... the "Affordable" Housing bill was the best we could do and has many important almost-done things in it! Half-baked is better!

I come away more sure than ever that, despite the good individuals who participate in the Democratic Party (like Rep. Donovan), the *moving* of the "big tent" to accommodate centrist views leaves progressives "out in the rain", and that we need our own tent more than ever, to eventually replace the one carried away by neo-libs/DLC types.

I believe Jake set the tone last night for the upcoming City Meeting Elections... and it's not nice. Watch your back, and keep your head down if you are afraid.

Useless Turd

" . . . her role was to be a spoiler in the Governor's race this year."

I am not defending Gaye Symington on anything. But you obviously don't care about being precise in your writing.

No one can be accused of being a "spoiler" unless they had a realistic possibility of affecting the race. Fact: Pollina wasn't going to win if Gaye had stayed out of the race. He got 21%. Even if he had taken all of Gaye's 21% (which he woudn't have), that's 42%. Douglas got 55%. 55% beats 42 % every time, math major.

Pollina has run statewide 4 times and lost 4 times.

He's never gonna win a statewide race, and he's too egotistical to start his career where he should have: House, Senate, or lower statewide office.

Your your careless talk and loose accusations, and your conspiracy theories about the Democrats, should be delivered from a therapist's couch.

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