Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ethics isn’t Democratic, but…

It’s good news for America that the moderate Democrat, Bill Owens, won today’s special election in New York’s 23rd congressional district. The Republicans had nominated Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, a supporter of gay rights, right-to-choose, and the Obama stimulus. That was too much for some conservative Republicans, who broke with the party and got Doug Hoffman on the ballot as a third-party candidate. Scozzafava eventually withdrew and endorsed Owens.

The district voters have been represented by Republicans longer than anyone can remember, going back to the nineteenth century. But Hoffman, with his supporters—Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and many mainstream Republicans—was too much for them to swallow: they elected Owens. The Democratic winner, in his victory statement , said, “The challenges that we face are not Democratic or Republican," he said. "They are not liberal or conservative. They're challenges that Americans face and that we will overcome with American resolve."

Had Hoffman won it would have ratified the Limbaugh-Beck line that there’s no room in the Republican party for any dissent from the far-right line. It likely would have led to massive repudiation of moderates from the party, and probably to one-party (Democratic) government for years to come.

The Owens election strikes a blow for politicians of both parties who believe in working together to solve America’s problems. And for the prospect of ethical governance.

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