Republicans are staking their electoral hopes this November on using fear and hatred to get their base out to the polls. Instead of talking about getting our economy back on track or ensuring that all Americans have access to quality affordable health coverage, Republicans like my opponent Frank Wolf, want the debate to be focused on topics like the motives of Justice Department lawyers, voter intimidation efforts of “The New Black Panther Movement” or a “government takeover of your daily life”. They are staking their efforts on this idea that you can drown out reasonable debate and treat the entire electorate like tea party protestors or listeners of right-wing radio.
People in my district and throughout the country are worried. They have a perception that we are on the wrong track as a nation and that we need a change. However as I talk to people across Virginia’s 10th district, I’m not finding regular people to be hard right wing zealots or people who are ready to line up behind Republicans on every issue. People who aren’t intimately involved in politics are skeptical about the current healthcare bill, but when you sit down and have a discussion with them, I find more often than not they agree with the overall sentiment of the bill. Time after time and on issue after issue, when you sit down and have a reasonable discussion, people are drawn to progressive ideas.
The question becomes how we create an opportunity to get around the right-wing noise machine. How do you combat slogans, lies and fear with reasonable debate? Like many of you, I attended one of the nearly 400 Coffee Parties yesterday and I think an answer is easily available with these groups.
When you look back to elections where Democrats and Progressives have been successful, they have mostly had strong grassroot movements behind them, with people who have been willing to talk to their neighbors and complete strangers about a positive progressive vision for our country. The people, who showed up at the Coffee Party I attended, are the same people who have organized for successful progressive candidates in the past. These people went door to door for Jim Webb in 2006 and for Barack Obama in 2008, talking about progressive values. However, election cycle after cycle there is a conventional wisdom that creeps up, if Democrats act meek or act like Republicans and don’t strongly proclaim any values that people will vote for them… when has this ever worked?
We need campaigns with energized volunteers to organize in their communities to get a strong progressive message out to the voters. We need campaigns where the people who came out to the Coffee Parties will want to volunteer and spread a message, campaigns where people involved in local progressive organizations or local Democratic parties will do more than simply vote or work their poll on Election Day. I am committed to bringing a strong message of progressive values. This is the type of campaign I am going to run and come November, I look forward to proving conventional wisdom wrong.