Saturday, May 06, 2006

No Contest: Why I'll Vote for James Webb

[Preface: Last week, My husband and I drove to Roanoke to hear James Webb. Over a hundred enthusiastic folks turned out to hear bluegrass music and, especially, James Webb speak. When I shook hands with Webb that day, I told him I am another blogger for Webb. And while that's true, the only trouble is that I haven't put my thoughts, and hence, my endorsement, onto my blog yet. Truth be told, I haven't blogged about anything in weeks. There's good reason for that, as my previous announcement indicates. It's been a very difficult couple of months for my family. However, last week, I knew I'd have to summon up some words to start blogging again. So here goes. ]

It isn't that I am just now thinking about a James Webb candidacy. In fact, at first, I admit was skeptical. Months ago (perhaps back in Dec.), I expressed some misguided reservations about his candidacy, mostly in light of some disinformation spewed by a pro-Miller blogger and by Miller's supporters. So, I too raised a couple of questions about James Webb. BUT I was in a word -- WRONG about all my major concerns. And the remaining minor one (about the what I considered a needless dichotomy of the 60s generation) is pretty trivial. So, despite my early misgivings about whether Webb was a "real Democrat," for about these past two months, I have believed James Webb is not just the right candidate, but also a stronger protector of Democratic values than his opponent.

It should also be noted, that I am not either a paid staff member or volunteer for the Webb campaign. I obviously don't speak for James Webb or anyone else but myself. But the Webb race is just about the only thing giving me political hope and keeping me active in the Democratic party at this point. And that's the beauty of his campaign, really. He can bridge differences and bring back disaffected folks like me and also so-called Reagan Democrats on the other side of the Democratic spectrum. While mythology suggests that only Reagan Dems have been sitting out the Democratic Party table, the truth is that there are many, many Democrats, former Democrats, and independents, who have been sitting out. We have here a unique opportunity to bring them back.

James Webb

James Webb, former Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, has nontheless been a Democrat most of his life. He's also been a Marine, war hero, consultant, writer, speaker, and statesman.

What Webb Stands For
James Webb runs because "our ideals have been placed at risk...too many wrong choices have been made, too much is at stake, and the time has come to change course," (James Webb, Roanoke VA 4/26/06). James Webb believes in the Marine creed "to take care of your people," an idea, he says, applies to all Americans. He was an early and outspoken critic of Bush's plan to wage war in Iraq. He had the courage to express this view when precious few Democrats had the spine to do so. As important as that issue is, however, there is much more for Democrats to appreciate in the candidate. Here's a sampler of what he said last week:

--"Never send them (troops) into harm's way unless you can justify their risk, and are willing to share that risk. Believe in them. Support them, and never waste a life. Any Marine will tell you this cuts across political boundaries, racial boundaries, and class boundaries. It holds us together and gets us through."

--"Our economy is in trouble. Our tax policies make no sense. Our country is breaking into three pieces, with people in the top half living in a luxury never before dreamed of, even as our middle class sees its jobs being outsourced overseas, their health care slipping away, our public education systems declining, and the people at the bottom are becoming a permanent underclass."

--"This administration's inability to lead fairly and creatively was revealed in the humiliating wake of Hurricane Katrina. Our trust in political leaders is at an all-time low. Why? Because we are in the hands of people who follow no creed; they speak to you of values, but they know nothing other than political expedience and blind loyalty to a money-drenched machine."

--This administration, which mouths the words of limited government has ballooned the national debt, launched a program of unauthorized domestic spying, and sent us into a war wholly unrelated to our national interest. This is not limited government." Now they want to tell you how to live your private life."

--The other party has enriched itself at the public's expense. It has grown corrupt." The Republican Senate has rubber-stamped this administration's bad ideas for six years. They misled us into war and the Senate rolled over...and keeps rolling over--when Dick Cheney picks up the phone and twists a few arms on Capitol Hill. And it's not just Iraq."

--"They've busted the budget so badly that the Republican-controlled Senate, including my opponent (George Allen)--has to keep voting to raise the debt limit so they can spend, spend, spend."

--"They've let drug company lobbyists write a prescription drug plan for our seniors--and the drug companies are going to make billions from this law."

--They've talked endlessly about a dream-world of "free trade" while year after year their policies continue costing American jobs.

--"The actions by greedy international corporations that claimed on paper to be American are amoral, if not immoral."

"We have let down our soldiers, indeed all Americans, by the unjustified war against Iraq."

Webb believes that solutions will be found using a progressive approach to policy that prioritizes fairness and justice, focused on four major themes (the following are from his website):

--Refocusing America's foreign and defense policies in a way that truly protects our national interests and seeks harmony where they are not threatened.

--Repairing the country's basic infrastructure, which has eroded badly over the past decade, and developing more creative ways to assist disaster-stricken areas such as those in New Orleans and along the Gulf coast.

--Reinstituting notions of true fairness in American society, including issues of race, class, and economic advantage; and

--Restoring the Constitutional role of the Congress as an equal partner, reining in the unbridled power of the Presidency.

Correcting the Disinformation

The smears have gone on too long. Push-polls, supporters of another candidate, and the GOP have all misrepresented Webb's viewpoints. It's time not only to set the record straight, but for Virginians to rally with James Webb, an outstanding American, Virginian, and -- yes--Democrat. He is pro-choice, against the so-called Marriage Amendment, but for civil unions. And he rejects the federal government micro-managing our personal lives. He's for equal opportunity for all. However, there's a contrived (by others) controversy brewing about his stance on affirmative action. But according to the Roanoke Times,

"Webb said he believes affirmative action is rooted in the 13th Amendment and Civil Rights Act of 1866, and as such it should be reserved for blacks. However, he said, in recent years it's been diversified to include other disadvantaged minority groups. If that's the case, Webb said, it should also include "white cultures that have had disadvantages as well."

I can see no reason why the disadvantaged from Appalachia shouldn't also be a priority. But most notably, Webb also wants to have the discussion about how pols are wedging the two groups (southern whites and African Americans) and bring both groups together to work toward greater fairness for all. When folks start using divisiveness and litmus tests for who's a Democrat and who isn't, it's time to look deeper. Webb's primary opponent would have you believe James Webb's credentials as a Democrat are dubious, all the while hoping we don't know the following. Harris Miller:

--supported the war against Iraq. His position today is barely distinguishable from George W. Bush's. He supports no timetable and considers those who do "cutting and running." We've heard such White House spin before.
--supports extending the Bush tax cuts
--actively promoted offshoring of US jobs (called that good for us).
--opposes an auditable paper trail (he represented Diebold among other high-tech companies).
--would "pull the switch myself" on the electric chair.
--would "treat criminals like criminals," which he faslely claims the Democratic Party doesn't do.
--would confirm Bush's Supreme Court nominees.
--would support the renewal the PATRIOT Act.
--privatize federal jobs.
--opposes a "national, single payer system" for health care
--gave money to Dennis Hastert and other right-wingers.

So, it's not a good idea for Miller folks to instigate a litmus test. They just might lose. Quite simply, there is only one person who can beat George Allen and that person is James Webb. The beauty is, however, that in choosing Webb, we are NOT settling. We are getting the most qualified, best candidate of the three (in the primary and general election), and the stronger Democrat.

His op-eds, articles and speeches indicate that in him we have a statesman. His views on war and peace, foreign policy, economic policy, and civil liberties are worth every Virginians serious consideration. His review of the book, The New American Militarism, should be a must-read for Senatorial Democrats, who've lost their way. Is it any wonder that statesmen and war critics such as Commander-in-Chief of US Central Command, General Anthony Zinni; US Rep. John Murtha; four Star General Joseph Hoar, also a former Commander in Chief of the US Central Command, have endorsed James WEbb? Already, broad ranging additional endorsements have made their way into the media: Former Gov. and Senator Bob Kerrey; Gen. Wesley Clark; Chap Peterson; former Congresswoman and State Senator, Leslie Byrne (does anyone believe Byrne would support anyone who doesn't advocate for the equality for women and fair treatment for minorities and labor?. Additionally, Public officials across Virginia, at every level of local government have weighed in as well. A clue about the excitement he has evoked in Democratic circles is that now the national Democratic party leaders are beginning to consider Virginia in play.

Webb stands for honesty in government, Constitutional and lawful governing, service to country, care for those you represent. Call me also "Born Fighting." Personally, I don't want to vote for any more Dems who cave in on every Bush excess or rubber stamp Bush's many misdeeds and abuses. And thus, I can't support one who lacked the the courage to stand up, speak out, and tell the truth about Iraq and everything else going on in this country. Timeliness is everything. James Webb was there when we needed him. And he'll be there for us when we need him in the future. James Webb is the candidate for US Senate from Virginia.