Apparently we need Republicans to remind Democrats what we stand for

Post from Ethan Strimling

I had a terrific dream last night. I dreamed I saw a Democratic Party ad that strongly supported core Democratic values and principles. The ad highlighted values of economic fairness, equal opportunity, and public solutions to the problems facing middle and low income families. It didn’t run away from supporting minimum wage increases, equal marriage, sensible gun control, and worker rights. It was also an ad willing to challenge opponents of all stripes for not supporting these values and how this was hurtful to Maine people.

And then I woke up and saw just such an ad on TV! I saw an ad that celebrated a Democrat’s support of raising the minimum wage for low income workers, as opposed to her opponent who vetoed an increase in the state’s minimum wage as Governor I saw an ad that proudly pronounced a Democrat’s support of stronger gun laws, as opposed to her opponent’s rejecting the common sense renewal of the assault weapons ban just days after Aurora, Colorado. I saw an ad that proclaimed a Democrat’s support of organized labor and working people, as opposed to her opponent, who vetoed pro-labor bills like Family and Medical Leave and cost of living increases for permanently injured Maine workers. An ad that highlighted the Democrat’s unequivocal support of marriage equality, as opposed to her opponent’s refusal to commit to vote to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

(The only thing the ad got wrong was when it said both the Democrat and her opponent support Obama’s tax policy. In reality, the Democrat supports Obama’s policy of ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy as soon as they expire. Her opponent opposes Obama’s policy and would continue them indefinitely.)

For the first time this campaign season I was feeling proud because it appeared the Democratic Party was not running from our core values and was willing to take that fight to the airwaves.

But then the end of the ad arrived and it said it was produced by a PAC created by Republicans. How can that be? How can the party reminding us what Democrats stand for be the Republican Party? How can it be that Republicans are the ones reminding voters that the Democrat in the race for US Senate, State Senator Cynthia Dill, most closely represents all the Democratic values above, while the un-enrolled candidate former Governor Angus King does not? How can it be that Republicans are the one’s running an ad that makes clear who will caucus with the Democrats and who may put Republicans in the majority in the US Senate making gridlock even worse for President Obama, or making Mitt Romney’s heartless agenda easier to pass?

I realize the Republicans are doing this for very cynical reasons (to drain support from Governor King), but this is an ad the Democrats should be running. These are values for which Democrats should be standing up, and for which we should be holding our opponents accountable. I suppose I am happy someone is doing it, but if the Democratic Party were standing up for Democratic values and Democratic candidates more forcefully, the Republicans would never have taken, nor would they have needed to take, this cynical step.

So don’t blame Republicans for their cynicism. Blame us Democrats for not supporting our own values.