The Moderate Washingtonian

Outlook on politics and elections in the state of Washington from an overall centrist viewpoint. My views tend to be libertarian in nature, but at the same time are largely nonpartisan.

18 July 2007

Darcy v. Rodney takes shape

Earlier today, Senator Rodney Tom confirmed rumours that he will be running for Congress from the 8th district next year. He joins a race that already contains Darcy Burner, last year's Democratic nominee, and starts off as a likely underdog against her. Tom kicked off his campaign at Renton Technical College with Eastide Reps. Deb Eddy and Larry Springer appearing with him, saying that he has the experience to beat two-term Congressman Dave Reichert. The seat has yet to elect a Democrat to Congress, but Reichert has won close contests both times he has run.

I supported Reichert in last year's campaign as he was the more moderate candidate of the two that was closer to my personal ideology. However, with a bona fide moderate like Senator Tom in the race I now have my candidate for 2008.

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At 11:56 PM, Blogger Daniel Kirkdorffer said...

What is the "moderate" position on abortion?

What is the "moderate" position on the death penalty?

Rodney Tom isn't a "moderate", because there is no such thing. You can't half abort an unborn child, you can't half kill a man on death row.

Rodney Tom is a bi-conceptual. Some of his positions are to the right, and some are to the left. The question will be whether 1) that's what Democrats want in their candidate, and 2) the mix of positions match with the majority of voters.

At 1:13 PM, Blogger TMW said...

I think you're taking a too literal view of the term. A moderate view on an issue tends to be a compromise between two extremes. To use your own example, a moderate on abortion would probably be nominally pro-choice but believe in restrictions such as parental notification, supporting the ban on "partial-birth" abortion, etc.

I'm well aware it's a mushy term, but most ideological descriptors are subject to people's personal opinions. As far as the oft-used meaning for a moderate, this "bi-conceptual" business means virtually the same thing, and it fits Rodney and the Eastside well. Since most of the Democratic gains in the region have been by Rodney Tom moderates and it still qualifies as a swing region his ideology jives with the district mainstream best. Whether it does for primary voters as well has yet to be seen, but I suspect he'll have a pretty good shot once he can raise his name recognition.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger thehim said...

I generally agree with you on a lot of things, but I have trouble understanding how you can believe that Dave Reichert is more moderate than Darcy Burner. Moderate is the opposite of extremist, and unless I've missed something, Dave Reichert sides with the administration on a number of extremist (and highly anti-libertarian) views - from Bush's warrantless wiretapping, to torture, to the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which stripped all legal residents of habeas corpus protections. I doubt you can give me any position that Darcy Burner has that is even in the ballpark of being as extremist as that.

At 5:58 PM, Blogger TMW said...

Ultimately I think it comes down to perspective. Burner toed the party line pretty well in the 2006 campaign while Reichert played up his independence from his party and it was the reason he wasn't thrown out with the rest of the swing district Republicans. There were definitely votes there as you mentioned where he voted opposite of my beliefs though I think he proved his independence of the party line better than Burner.

Sorry I didn't see your reply sooner.

At 5:08 PM, Blogger thehim said...

I think you're conflating moderation and independence. They're not the same. And neither is moderation and centrism. What's been happening over the past decade or so in this country is that we've gone from a balanced two-party system where the moderates are in the middle, to a mode Middle Eastern-style dichotomy where the moderates are on the left. With religious extremism being a big part of the Republican base, it was happening in the 90s, but 9/11 put this shift into overdrive.

The larger point is that just because a person toes the Democratic Party line does not mean they are not a moderate. In fact, I'd argue that in today's political climate, toeing the Democratic Party line means that you most likely ARE a moderate, and much more moderate than the average Republican. Moderates tend to believe in things like diplomacy and human rights and oppose extreme viewpoints such as unilateralism and torture. They accept the reality of nuance and the necessity of disagreement and dissent in public debate. When you have a debate between those who see things in black and white, and those who see in shades of gray, the moderates are not the people caught inbetween those two groups. The moderates are the people who see in shades of gray. That's what being a moderate means. And in 2008, the Democratic Party is the moderate party and the Republican Party is the extremist party. It will not always be that way (the Republican Party is well on its way to hitting rock bottom and will recover), but it is right now.

At 11:20 PM, Blogger TMW said...

Perhaps I have been guilty of using the terms interchangeably, but in many cases independence of the party line does equate to moderation. I don't quite agree with your assessment of the state of the two-party system, though. I agree that the GOP has trended to the right and it's a big reason as to why moderate voters have begun voting Democratic as of late, but I don't think the Democratic platform has shifted ideologically (nor that the spectrum as a whole trends rightward simply as a result of the Republican Party doing so). Many voters swung Democratic in the last election in an effort to get the Republicans out of power rather than any particular affinity for their beliefs.

That said, I hope the GOP hits rock bottom sooner rather than later. The longer it takes them to return to the center-right the longer there will be a large chunk of disaffected voters in the middle who tire of choosing a lesser of two evils.


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