Quick now. Think fast. Which one of these people is named Darcy Burner? In these post-Pride-and-Prejudice days, can you be sure?
The ambiguity of this photograph is emblematic, for me, of the problems that plague many primary campaigns within the Democratic Party this year. There’s often a serious lack of attention to the need to introduce the candidate to the public at large.
It’s not just a matter of putting a face to a name. The issues at stake in Democratic primary battles are often ambiguously discussed by the candidates, so that Democratic voters have a very difficult time making a decision about who to support, and end up casting their votes based on horse race news, or on candidate personality rather than policy.
So it is in Washington’s 8th congressional district, where every Democrat knows how important it is to get Republican Dave Reichert out of office, but faces some confusion about which of the two Democrats running for Congress should be given the task of facing Reichert in the general election.
Randy Gordon has a list of issues flashing at the top of his web page: Fiscal responsibility, pro-choice, social justice, women’s rights, free press, living wages, energy independence, environmental stewardship, American innovation, personal privacy, health care reform, etc. Unfortunately, there are no details about what specific positions Mr. Gordon takes on those issues.
The front page of Darcy Burner’s web page is pleased to tell us that America is on the wrong track. But how does the Burner for Congress campaign propose to fix the problems? Those details are never shared.
Both Randy Gordon and Darcy Burner seem like good people, but unless I know what course of action they would take in Congress, I can’t say which one would be the better choice to send to the House of Representatives. Americans have seen too many Democrats in Congress slide toward right wing Republican positions over the last few years to merely accept the Democratic Party label as an automatic stamp of approval. We voters deserve detailed policy positions, easy to find and clear to evaluate. Unfortunately, too many congressional candidates these days seem to regard policy as merely an extra flavoring on their campaigns. They appear to be focused more on the political gamesmanship of an election than establishing policy positions that make sense to voters.
So it is that, at this point in the election, many Democratic candidates for Congress remain ciphers – faces and names with no meaning, and no deep appeal to voters. They’ll need to do better if they are going to persuade voters to help them take back the Congress from the corrupt control of the Republican Party.
By the way, Darcy Burner is the one on the right.