Each made a credible case for him- or herself, but each did a much better job making a credible case AGAINST the other. Ida Ruben does indeed talk as though she’s a cog in the party machine system. Jamie Raskin does make grandiose statements that are a bit naive, and he does sound as though he thinks he is or wishes he were running for higher office.
Sen. Ruben makes no bones about her ability to work the system, though she took umbrage at being called a “machine” politician, and cited examples of independent votes she has cast. But in the course of the forum she hammered on two points: “Budget-and-Tax,” her pet name for the powerful Senate Budget and Tax Committee, of which she is a member. and the millions, and millions, and millions more she has “brought home” to District 20, as easily as you or I might say we’d brought home a bag of groceries from the co-op. She even bragged that she knew about back-room deals.
Mr. Raskin was shocked by the very idea of back room deals and assured the voters that he would never be involved in such. He would accomplish his progressive agenda, not with back-room deals, but with coalition building. Ms Rueben scoffed at this, citing examples of her own coalition building. Coalitions are fine, she said, but they don’t always hold together, in which case a politician needs other tactics. Mr. Raskin came out of that exchange looking a bit pollyanna-ish in Gilbert’s opinion.
Sen. Rubin’s intimation that Mr. Raskin has higher office in mind – or even that in his mind he IS running for higher office, seemed confirmed in his his statement railing against Republicans “We’ve got to take the government back from the Republicans! We’ve got to organize people to kick the Republicans out!” This, when he is running in the primary against a sister Democrat in a district that is not likely to field a Republican to run for that office. His election would make no difference in the party balance at all.
Sen. Rueben’s membership on “Budget-and-Tax” is due to her seniority, it does not convey with the seat. Mr. Raskin would be a freshman senator and would be starting at the bottom. Sen. Ruben uses this fact to raise fears that without her on “Budget-and-Tax,” the money will dry up. Committee members apparently have the power to fund or not fund projects
Certainly she has worked her way up in the system and knows how to work it to her constituents advantage. She did not address (and neither did Raskin, strangely enough) whether this is a good and fair system. Nevertheless it indicates what kind of politician Sen. Ruben is – she plays the game, goes out of her way to take care of her constituents to earn their votes, and enjoys the perks.
Like recent presidential candidate John Kerry, Sen. Ruben has a “flip-flop” problem on the death penalty. She says she opposes the death penalty and supports the current moratorium, but there’s that one, leettle embarrassing vote approving the death penalty in cases where police officers are murdered in the line of duty. As in Kerry’s case she has a long voting record that can be picked apart, taken out of context, and criticized. Even so, the vote smells of expedience and the sort of careful calculation made by politicians whose priority is reelection, not principle.
She was also slammed by Mr. Raskin for her votes in favor of utility deregulation, which she made no attempt to defend. She did make a half-hearted attempt to defend corporate donations in the face of repeated demonizing statements about “big corporations’” money and influence from Mr. Raskin. “Corporations bring money to a lot of people.” she said, citing the high costs of running an election campaign.
She pointedly explained (twice ) that the proper way to run for office is to earn the privilege through the system as she did. One works on other candidate’s campaigns, and then runs when there is an empty seat. Gilbert got the impression that she felt considerably put out by Mr. Raskins neglect of this procedure, that in fact she felt it was extremely rude.
Mr. Raskin clearly has no patience with Sen. Ruben’s idea of what is proper procedure. First off he said he wanted to sweep away the “politics of yesterday,” [not looking in Sen. Rubin’s direction]. He was breathing fire, all aflame for the Democratic “party of the people,” hot to be the “champion of the people,” and burning to work for the “common rights of the people.” This is from a Bethesda-raised graduate of Georgetown Day School and Harvard Law School, keep in mind. Gilbert is sure he is a fine fellow with the best of intentions, but it makes Gilbert cringe when someone of that background talks with stars in his eyes about “people who need the help of government.” For instance it makes Gilbert nervous when such politicians decide to “help” the people be less politically apathetic by making voter registration a mandatory requirement of high school graduation – this is for the people’s own good, of course. Next he’ll be drafting legislation mandating that all horses led to water must drink.
Not that Ida Ruben looks like she’s particularly in touch with “the people,” looking as she does as though she would be more comfortable at a country club dinner than a typical Takoma Park or Silver Spring living room. She certainly doesn’t have an ambitious program for them, either, which may or may not be a good thing. She’s happy to go on doing what she’s doing, treating “the people” as individual constituents whose votes need occasional grooming and feeding.
Though she by-and-large supports the same sort of legislation he does, Ms Sen. Ruben doesn’t frame the issues in a program like Mr. Raskin, who in turn made a point of repeatedly mentioning universal health care and election reform. He also mentioned transportation a lot. This is the issue that shows the biggest difference between him and the incumbent, who supported the Inter-County Connector (ICC). Both candidates bravely support the Purple Line (Gilbert is still waiting to hear from an anti-Purple Line politician).
Mr. Raskin also hammered on corporate influence, a factor in Sen. Ruben’s support for the ICC, he suggested. She didn’t exactly deny that she receives corporate donations, but she counterattacked with examples of Raskin fund-raising efforts that were dependent on corporate donations and outside money and politicians, specifically a fund raising event in space donated by a DC law firm Porter and Arnold, and a fund raising event held in Manhattan.
Contributions to her campaign are listed on the Maryland State Board of Elections website (including $1000 each from 3 apparently-affiliated resort developers in Colorado?!). Mr. Raskin’s contributions are not (yet) listed.
Mr. Raskin was almost cartoonish in his efforts to appear vigorous and Ready-To-Hit-The-Ground-Running. He made a number of eager pledges, many of them to do certain things within minutes of taking office, such as present legislation to make voter registration a requirement of high school graduation, and legislation to limit corporate funding in campaigns (the other legislators will flock, FLOCK to your banner, Jamie, saying “Golly! Why didn’t we think of this BEFORE?”!). If he wins, the first few minutes of his term will be dangerously frantic. He might sprain something. Medics, stand by!
Come to think of it, Sen. Ruben was even more cartoonish in her attempts to look vigorous and Still-With-It. She undercut it all by making a coy crack about being 39 years old. In a city with a large boomer-generation population – including many women who are proud of their age and see such coyness as antifeminist, the remark only made her look old and out-of -touch with Takoma Park.
Gilbert thinks Ms. Sen. Ruben is doomed, but he feels a bit sorry for her. She will get revenge of a sort once Mr. Raskin takes office and discovers that being an elected politician means less “marching” and more “lunching,” less crusade and more compromise. Eventually he too will have a legislative record that reelects political pragmatism and “sausage-making.” He may even end up with a vote on his record like the one he castigates Ida Ruben for. Though otherwise against the death penalty, she voted for a bill that called for the death penalty for murderers of police officers in the course of their duty. Obviously, the pressure from law enforcement groups and supporters must have been great on Ms. Sen. Ruben, and she cast a vote calculated to appease and avoid unpleasantness.
So, it looks like Takoma Park stands poised on the brink of one of two futures. If Ms Sen. Ruben wins reelection she will take vengeance on upstart, Mr. Raskin-hotbed Takoma Park, denying it every penny of state money.
If Takoma Park’s Jamie Raskin wins the state senate seat, he will lead the progressive charge head first into the brick wall of an annoyed party establishment, losing Takoma Park every penny of state money.
This is what democracy is all about – choice. The choice here is which route to hell – the scenic or prosaic one?. Enjoy casting this vote, dear Readers, it will likely be your last. By next election Takoma Park’s streets will be impassable due to lack of maintenance, not to mention the fallen trees and utility poles. There won’t be any power, anyway, and you’ll likely not even be aware that it is Election Day, your attention being taken up with the day to day necessities of hunting, gathering, keeping the fire lit, and battling the other neighborhood associations with sticks and rocks.
I first heard of Jamie Raskin via his signage all over TP. I commented to a politically astute friend that I would put money on the fact that he was probably the son of Marcus and another elite clever boy who went to Harvard and is all set to let the world in on his special gifts. I was gently rebuffed as being cynical so of course I went home and googled and lo and behold, he is the elite son of an elite and he did go to Harvard. I laughed out loud. Cynical? No. I worked for clever boys for years in the public interest sector. They come from families that pride themselves on their clever liberalism and manage to actually avoid anything that might cause them true discomfort.
I watched clever boys leave the public interest arena and head into “higher” offices where they promptly sold down the river all kinds of policy ideals they had worked on for years. It doesn’t surprise me that loser liberal scum like Gephardt, Daschle and Harkin are supporting him. They want him in their pockets as soon as possible.
Of course I also laughed when I got home one day to find a full color glossy from Ida Ruben telling me how much she likes good education and other good things and proved it by showing her with lots of good people she likes and how much I should vote for her cause she is so diverse in her liking and photographs and good stuff. Especially interesting as I have lived in her district for a total of 20 years and never gotten one single piece of malarkey from her until she was challenged by Raskin.
I am not impressed by either. Can you tell? I have slogged thru a lot of liberal slobber in my working and voting life and I’ve finally decided that until a party can come up with someone who has both intellect and integrity I will pass. I know what liberals are up close and personal.
One candidate I do support is Donna Edwards in her bid to unseat Al Wynn. He is as close to being a republicrap as possible without actually kissing Karl Rove. No I don’t work on her campaign, for which she would most likely be grateful, but I will be voting for her in the primaries.
If a law is unjust it must be changed. If it cannot be changed it must be broken..