What's Happening to My Party?
There's definitely something wrong with the world when Monroe County, Indiana chooses to elect the pro-war advocate Baron Hill as the Democratic Candidate for US Congress (IN district 9). Perhaps the rest of the 9th district follows the conservative persuasion, so Pseudo-republican Hill might appeal to them. But in Monroe County, which contains the so called "Berkeley of the Midwest" (Bloomington), more than half of the voters considers Hill (a man who voted for the Iraq war, the Patriot Act and has recently announced his agreement for preeminent action in Iran) a better representative of Democratic values than Gretchen Clearwater (a woman who believes in real family values, such as job availability and better health care)? Baron Hill, who lost this seat to Mike Sodrel once already in 2004, who did nothing to address the suspicious practices surrounding that election (e.g. disenfranchisement), and who did absolutely no campaigning for this primary election, is favored over Gretchen who worked her ass off to meet people all over Southern Indiana and listen to their concerns about current policies?
Even if I hadn't invested so much time in that particular race, the results from last Tuesday's Primary Elections are still a huge disappointment. The city of Bloomington elects for IN State Representative, Peggy Welch, who is outspoken on her anti-choice views. And Monroe County elects for Sheriff, Jim Kennedy, who ran for this position several times previously on the republican ticket. So, suddenly Kennedy sees the light and considers himself a democrat? And the Monroe County Democrats see nothing wrong with this?
If one of the most liberal counties in the Midwest (which isn't saying much, I know) considers these people to be representatives of Democratic ideals, how much more fucked up are the really conservative areas? More importantly, what is the incentive for voting for Democratic candidates in the general elections in November?
The 9th district seat is expected to be one of the most contested races in the country this Fall (so I've heard). Baron Hill lost the 2004 election by less than 2000 votes (I think) and for this primary election, 68,000 people voted in the Democratic primary versus about 36,000 people voted in the Republican primary. I'm not sure how well primary election turnouts reflect voting tendencies in the general elections, but if these are indicative, the 9th district doesn't look nearly as competitive as people are saying it will be.
Similarly, Indiana's 4th district where I live, looks like it will be a pathetic and flimsy battle. Poor David Sanders (D) is looking at a slaughter. Almost 70,000 people turned out for the Republicans in the 4th, compared to a measly 14,000 for the Democrats. I work and live in the 9th district, but thanks to last year's redistricting, my house is technically in the 4th district, missing the 9th district boundary by about 0.25 miles. My house, in Bloomington, is in the same district as someone living in West Lafayette about 120 miles away rather than in the same district as the rest of the city. The funny thing is, Baron Hill probably doesn't see any problem with this sort of gerrymandering, being as conservative as he is - truly the embodiment of Democratic values. It isn't really voter fraud to change my address just to vote against Hill in November. I might consider it except just about the only person more nauseating than Hill is Mike Sodrel. It's really disheartening that elections come down to "the lesser of two evils". When are we going to have a real democratic candidate?