Tonight I speak to my friends who, like me, usually vote Democratic. I do not litmus test my friends' list, and I quite enjoy that I have a broad range of kindred spirits across a broad range of political opinions. If you vote differently than I do, then that's fine. I am like a lot of people--socially moderately over on the progressive side of pragmatic, and fiscally way over on the pragmatic side of progressive. I am what they used to call a moderate, until they outlawed them.
In the heat of the campaigns, I have read many posts about the dire threats posed if one Democratic candidate or another fails to get the nomination. I have seen threats to stay home, and even threats to vote for Senator McCain, a man I respect but will never vote to have as my President.
I could raise a parade of horribles for you, my fellow Democratic friends, but I would rather raise for you one non-violent, non-foreign-policy, non-incendiary reminder. When you think of the general election, remember Carol Lam.
Do you remember Carol Lam? I do. She was a prosecutor who helped unravel health care fraud. She successfully prosecuted Duke Cunningham, a bribe recipient. She was an extremely capable United States Attorney.
In 2007, Carol Lam was forced to resign, as part of a partisan effort to eliminate US Attorneys who did not utilize their office to further partisan political agendae. In Missouri, for example, a prosecutor was fired for failing to indict community activists accused of signing up voters who were not eligible. He declined to prosecute for the simple and best reason--the facts were not there to make the case. That US Attorney's successor did bring such charges, and those charges were dismissed by the Court as without merit.
The Justice Department and the Bush Administration pointed out a part of the truth--that US Attorneys serve at the will and whim of the President. They omitted what later Congressional hearings showed--hearings, I might add, that included some bipartisan participation by people like Arlen Spector, who were appalled.
Later hearings showed a high probable correlation between the firings and perceived failures to bring or suppress prosecutions on political grounds.
Politicians of every stripe make individual errors, including crimes, which are isolated and regrettable and not institutional. On the right, Duke Cunningham is a good example--a self-righteous Republican on the take from a two-bit defense contractor. On the left, Elliott Spitzer is a good if lesser example--a self-righteous prosecutor who frequented illegal enterprises he once aggresively prosecuted.
But the Gonzalez Justice Department was something else again. This was the place which is supposed to be the most earnest about enforcing the law. Yet the department was run like a partisan political enterprise.
Monica Goodling, a political wonk with a law degree, required immunity from prosecution before she testified that she had actually done internet research on people applying for non-partisan civil service jobs, to see if she could find out their political leanings. Attorney General Gonzalez testified before Congress with a singular lack of consistency about the facts that led to his ultimate resignation, and a sense that the Justice Department was entirely spinning out of control. Career civil service prosecutors left the agency in droves. Like FEMA before it, the Justice Department was seriously damaged when political hacks gutted its functions for political reasons, driving its experienced professionals away.
I love partisan debate, even within our party. I don't even mind conservative moderators of debates between two left-leaning candidates. I like the vigour and energy, and I am so impressed with the work so many of you are doing for your chosen Democrat. I like whimsical integrity. I salute John Stewart, Tina Fey, and every Hollywood celebrity and attorney who did not use Pellicano to tap peoples' phones in sordid circumstances. Am I the only one in America, by the way, who is outraged that the wire-tapping investigation has merely scratched the surface of a deep and sordid well?
Pardon me for taking on the air of a voice crying in the wilderness. I am not really worried about whether you vote for Senator Clinton or Senator Obama.
I am concerned, though, that you remember Carol Lam.
I want you to remember her in November.
I want you to remember Monica Goodling and Alberto Gonzalez, too.
I'd like you to remember the time since Inauguration Day for the first Bush term. I'd like you to remember Iraq. Katrina. The widening gap between rich and poor. All those things.
But right now, I'll settle for Carol Lam. I'll settle for you remembering what is is like to live in a country when people are persecuted for doing the right thing.
I don't want to live in that country any more.
I don't care which Democrat wins this primary cycle. I am voting for that Democrat.
No matter how strongly you feel about one or the other candidate, I ask that you join me.
We cannot take 8 more years of this.
How can you help? By committing right now that you will vote to end this madness, even if your chosen candidate is not the party's nominee. By fighting for your candidate, but remembering what we will lose if we do not get the White House back.
We need every vote--no matter who is the nominee.
I have a favorite between Obama and Clinton, but I will vote for the winner, whoever that winner may be.
I believe we have no other pragmatic choice, and I mean that not only as a progressive, but as a person dismayed by injustice and a nation placed off track by political hacks.