Edwards has guts. If he wins, he will become the only Democratic governor in the South, now that Steve Beshear in Kentucky is being replaced by Matt Tea Party Koch Brothers Bevin. He’s ahead in the polls and the election is on Nov. 21.
What frustrates me as a liberal progressive Democrat is how many likeminded friends argue against such ads. They see nobility — there is nobility — in resisting the muck. Unfortunately, in our current politics, you must draw blood. Indeed, if we insist that one may ever only be nice and pleasant and wear knee breeches and politely bow to each other before taking 15 leisurely paces so Republicans can (metaphorically) shoot us, then guess what? You lose. You wind up with Republicans controlling 33 governorships, 70 percent of state legislatures and the nation’s fate in their sickening death grip.
Politics is blood sport. Twenty-five years after Lee Atwater smeared America with guttersnipe politics as a campaign tactic, liberals progressives often still don’t get it. If you’re not really playing to win, Republicans will destroy you. They play to kill. We’re not even playing most of the time to win.
Watching Rachel Maddow last night as she interviewed the three Democratic candidates for President, did you notice how often, and in how many ways, she pressed them to explain why the Democratic Party is shut out of the South, why Southerners vote religiously (ahem) for candidates whose governing philosophies are blatantly against their interests and which completely degrade their shot at the American dream?
Did you notice how Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley all found artful and diplomatic ways to dodge the question?
I am under no such restriction.
Politics is blood sport. I note that twice because a fact, though it may dismay or make us uncomfortable, is still a fact. No one said that you have to like facts, love facts or that facts must fill you with joy. And one fact is this: we lose in the South — and elsewhere — because we don’t really play to win in all 50 states and we really don’t play ugly. Here’s another fact: in our current politics, ugly is often needed and ugly often wins. Here’s another fact: given the alarming and almost psychotic enmity of the Republican Party right now to, oh, basic American values like freedom and democracy, let alone progressive liberalism, ugly trumps losing.
Does this fact dismay or make me uncomfortable? Yes.
Do I like it, love it, does it fill me with joy? No.
But a fact is a fact.
Liberal progressives must draw blood, as Edwards does with this ad. God knows Republicans have no qualm drawing blood from us. We ought to do the same and beat them at their game.