Hypocrites, Hatchetmen... and Hopeby Ryan Anderson
Omaha's genial mayor, Mike Fahey, is definitely showing signs of "politicus incurabilis." The two term mayor has indicated that he is pondering not so much whether he should run for office again but rather whether he should run for a third term as mayor or possibly seek to become a U.S. Senator.
In regard to the Senate seat, Fahey's comments seem to indicate that if he doesn't run for the Senate, his decision will be based not on lack of desire but on the practical consideration that no incumbent U.S. senator seeking re-election in Nebraska has been unseated since 1942.
[Hagel] said he won't run unless he's confident he could win, but it's even more important to him that he feels passionately about the race.But enough of that nonsense. Pointing out these logical inconsistencies might be fun (and it is, believe me, it is), but it's also rather useless. Andersen is nothing more than a partisan hack, and like any partisan hack he lacks the ability to distinguish virtue and vice absent party labels. This is a fact, a perhaps immutable part of human nature, and not the sort of thing a humble young blogger is likely to change with blockquotes and hyperlinks.
Asinine as Andersen's commentary may be, it is possible to extract from this column a question worth asking: why are Democrats so willing to give Hagel a free ride? More importantly, why are we, the "progressive blogosphere", apparently resigned to roll over and play dead if this Hamlet on the Platte decides to stick around for another term in the Senate?
Andersen's criticism of Fahey is unwarranted because candidates -all candidates- naturally have concerns about getting mixed up in races they can't win. Why spend all that time away from your family, groveling for dollars and scrambling from one city to the next if Election Day promises little more than a shot to the ego and a kick in the ass? Similarly, parties, PACs and 527s have to worry about protecting limited resources and reassuring dubious donors. The whole system might grind to a halt tomorrow if it weren't for that one magical component that separates politics from so many other endeavors: hopelessly irrational, starry-eyed optimism.
It's the belief that miracles can happen, that it is possible to effect real change through this convoluted system of democracy... it's that dream that convinces qualified and talented individuals to give up promising careers in the private sector to pursue public life. It's that irrational, illogical, indefensible belief that keeps those coffers filled (well, maybe not filled...), those volunteers plentiful (well, maybe not plentiful...) and those voters lined up.
If the blogosphere -we who can dream without suffering the pains of electioneering- can't supply that hope, can't find it in ourselves to produce that one element capable of lubricating the cogs of doubt and despair, then we're pretty damned useless ourselves.
Can Hagel be defeated? Hell yes he can. Senator Hagel has the misfortune of serving in a field where he can be dismissed for any reason or no reason at all. It's possible to defeat a Goliath with a David... Hagel did it himself in '96, coming out of nowhere to win in a landslide over a popular sitting Governor. But you just can't kill a giant with an empty ballot line.
Let's leave the worry and the practical considerations to others. At the very least, let's leave it to later. If hopeless (even losing) Senate campaigns against powerful incumbent Republicans can lead to a Democratic renaissance in Montana and Virginia, why not here? We need to be bold so others can be brave. Brave enough to give up a promising career in the private sector. Brave enough to weather a shot to the ego or kick in the ass. Brave enough, at least, to stand up to the Harold Andersens of the world and remind voters that virtue knows no party.