Democrats lose elections because each of the constituent groups in our big tent sometimes lose sight of the fact that, while a Democratic candidate may not be perfect, he or she is certainly better than the Republican option on a broad array of issues. A recent editor to the Helena IR illustrates this problem:
I was shocked to read the interview with Tester in the IR (Oct. 13) where he stated “he opposes gay marriage — although he would not vote to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban it, and would support certain allowances for gay couples.”
What rights does Tester want for himself that he would like to withhold from me? What “allowances” is he referring to? In this country we know that separate is not equal (please see Brown v. Board of Education). Throughout the primary Tester stated he did not support discrimination in any form. I believed him. What has changed?
This type of campaigning makes me want to skip the U.S. Senate race and vote down the ballot for liberals who don’t run away from their records.
Let me first say that I agree with Ms. Abbott. I believe that gays and lesbians should have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples. I wish the Democratic party would do more to advance this civil rights agenda. However, it is simply foolish to suggest that someone should withhold his/her vote from Jon Tester because of this opinion, and downright irresponsible to advocate that others do the same.
It matters that Jon Tester is elected, for both the specific goals that Ms. Abbott articulates and for the broad goals of the progressive movement. Would sending Conrad Burns back to Washington advance the cause of equal rights for gays and lesbians? Will sending Conrad Burns back to Washington protect women’s reproductive rights, the environment, education, our position in the world?
Electing Jon Tester matters. Jon Tester may not pass every progressive litmus test, but electing him will much better protect the agenda that progressives believe in. No matter how personal our commitment is to a particular issue, the big picture matters more.