Posted by: Nate Nelson | October 19, 2009

Doug Hoffman for NY-23

I’m endorsing Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman in the special election for New York’s 23rd congressional district.

You might ask why anyone from Southeastern Ohio would bother endorsing a congressional candidate from upstate New York. But when you take a look at this special election campaign you see a situation that should give Americans inside and outside the 23rd district pause. On the Democratic side you have Bill Owens, a Democrat who is not really a Democrat. Until very recently Owens was a registered independent and he is on some issues further to the right than his opponent. On the Republican side you have Dierdre “Dede” Scozzafava, a Republican who is not really a Republican. Her breaks with the Republican Party platform have been numerous and well-documented, so it is sufficient to say here that she has at times enjoyed the backing of both ACORN and the liberal-populist Working Families Party. In this special election she has been endorsed by Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas.

Amidst this grand display of political opportunism, in which both of these candidates and the parties they represent have abandoned all principle in favor of what they hope will win an election, Doug Hoffman stands as the clear contrast and only alternative. While as an independent I may not agree with everything or perhaps even most of what Hoffman stands for, I prefer his candidacy because he stands for something. Because Hoffman is the only candidate in this race with principles he is also the only candidate in this race I can stomach.

While I am unabashedly endorsing Hoffman, this endorsement is actually more an indictment of partisan leadership in Washington. The Democratic establishment has endorsed Owens because they believe he is their best hope of capturing the seat and maintaining a broad majority in the House of Representatives. Meanwhile the Republican establishment has endorsed Scozzafava for similar, strictly numerical reasons. It’s inevitable that politics will focus on numbers. After all, political victory at a bare minimum means having at least one more seat than the other guy. Here’s the problem: What will Owens or Scozzafava really do to help the parties they’re representing actually govern? Have our standards for political representation sunk so low that we will accept anyone who will simply agree to vote for Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner respectively for Speaker of the House?

To an increasing and disturbing degree, national politics have become a game to our elected representatives. There is no sense of civic duty, no high-minded ideas about commitment to foundational principles or constituent representation. Our politicians will do whatever they can to achieve more power and, once the pinnacle of that power has been achieved, they will do anything to hang on. Examples are manifold. Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania, and Michael Bloomberg in New York City are probably the most recent and well-known. Does anyone really doubt, though, that Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, et al., would jump ship to save their careers just as Specter did? For our politicians today, it’s about getting elected and getting re-elected. To hell with what happens afterward.

Doug Hoffman is different. He knows that he’s running in a district that trends liberal but often votes Republican, and he knows that in challenging Dede Scozzafava — a liberal Republican — he is facing a perfect storm that will be difficult if not impossible to weather. If he were more like Scozzafava and Owens, more hungry for power, he would be shifting to the left right now in a bid to present himself as some halfway moderate alternative. He’s not doing that.

Instead, the pressure that Hoffman’s campaign is putting on Scozzafava has forced her to show her true colors. As Hoffman explains in a guest blog post that he wrote for Michelle Malkin, she’s moving to the right and flip-flopping worse than a sea bass dropped in the Sahara. In August, Scozzafava called a pledge that Hoffman signed promising not to vote to raise income taxes a “stunt.” As recently as October 1 Scozzafava said she wouldn’t sign the pledge. On Thursday, just two weeks after saying she would not sign the pledge sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform, Scozzafava signed it. We could look at this as an encouraging sign that Scozzafava is committing herself to the principles of her party. But we know better, don’t we? Dede is worried that Hoffman might beat her, or at least that he might draw enough Republican votes to hand victory to Bill Owens. She’s doing what she thinks she needs to do to quench her thirst for more political power. This isn’t about taxes; it’s about Dierdre Scozzafava wanting to wake up on November 4, look in the mirror, and see a congresswoman-elect.

Do you think the same is true of Doug Hoffman, or do you think he’s actually taking his tax pledge seriously? You be the judge. Personally, I think once Diedre Scozzafava sets foot on Capitol Hill she’ll forget she ever made a tax pledge — or any pledge, really, that won’t help her when she’s seeking re-election. Maybe she’ll want to “make history” like Olympia Snowe did when she voted for the Baucus health care bill. I’m sick of rewarding power hungry politicians like Dede with more power. I encourage anyone in New York’s 23rd congressional district who agrees with me to vote for Doug Hoffman on November 3, and anyone who lives outside the district to do whatever they can to see Hoffman elected. Let’s send Doug Hoffman to Washington to tell both parties that democratic government is about more than elections. It’s about principled governing.

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