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A Progressive Case for Merrick Alpert

by: Jake Blount

Tue Mar 16, 2010 at 11:04:00 AM EDT

( - promoted by Jon Kantrowitz)

  Let me start out by saying that I do not speak for the Alpert campaign. My only connection, at this point, is that I have made a $50.00 donation and am enthusiastic about Alpert's candidacy.

 I have been a diarist and commentator here at MLN for about 3 and 1/2 years. There was a discussion here once about the differences, if any, between liberals and progressives. Some took the position that the terms were essentially synonymous. I took the opposite view. I have come to the view that not all liberals are progressive. The discussion between Blumenthal and Alpert during their debate on incrementalism is, I believe instructive on this point. Richard Blumenthal, not unlike Chris Dodd, is very much a creature of the system and seems to feel that adjustments on the periphery can help to correct certain imbalances. Alpert, in the style of Progressivism, sees the system as fundamentally skewed and prescribes more sweeping measures to ameliorate the plight of the middle class and the working poor( in other words the vast majority). This is made clear by their respective ideas concerning health care. While the Attorney General's ideas are sound and helpful, they really don't lay a glove on the major issues of the millions of uninsured citizens. Merrick Alpert, on the other hand, clearly states that he believes that health care is a right of all citizens and stands for universal coverage.  

Jake Blount :: A Progressive Case for Merrick Alpert
  In careful center-left style, Blumenthal supports the Administration's escalation of the war. Alpert does not. On financial reform, Blumenthal, ala Dodd, would make marginal changes that leave the present fiscally dangerous situation intact. Alpert calls for sweeping reforms, like the reinstitution of the protections of Glass-Steagall, to protect the economy.

 The question about Cuba policy, perhaps sums up the differences between the candidates as well as anything. It seemed to me that the Attorney General,( as is the want of career politicians), tried to have it all ways at once and to appease as many factions as possible. Merrick Alpert simply pointed out that our policy is archaic and counterproductive.

 We should not award Senate seats because, "it's their turn" or " he's paid his dues".  The unseemly appearance is that Senator Dodd has anointed his successor. Merrick Alpert is that rare candidate who rises to the forefront, not from the political class, but genuinely from among the people.

 When considering these candidates, from a progressive point of view, ask yourselves this question: Which candidate, Richard Blumenthal or Merrick Alpert, has the best chance to give Connecticut a Senator like Russ Feingold or Sherrod Brown...and which one is more likely to become an Evan Bayh or a Ben Nelson.

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another question to ask yourself (4.00 / 2)
When considering these candidates, ask yourself which one could actually be elected U.S. Senator from CT?  If you look at opensecrets.org you'll see that as of January 1, Linda McMahon had $1,088,418 on hand, Rob Simmons had $1,339,092, and Merrick Alpert had $4,285.  Of course money shouldn't matter, but let's live in the real world, it does matter in politics.  Merrick Alpert can say whatever he wants, because it's clear that he'll never be the candidate. Ralph Nader anyone?  

You're not being fair with the Nader analogy... (0.00 / 0)
I prefer to think of Alpert as a Kucinich, simply telling 'em what they want to hear.

[ Parent ]
An old conundrum... (0.00 / 0)

 The progressive is always torn between their ideals and political pragmatism. We all have to decide for ourselves which way to go on that. I guess I have made my choice and you have made yours.  

But let justice roll down like waters...Amos 5:24a

[ Parent ]
As far as money... (0.00 / 0)

 is concerned, your citing of January 1 figures is relatively ancient history. Alpert has done much better, post- debate and will have plenty on hand if he wins the nomination.

But let justice roll down like waters...Amos 5:24a

[ Parent ]
If he wins the nomination? (4.00 / 1)
What are you smoking?

Alpert has no chance, and is just acting selfishly as a distraction.

[ Parent ]
OK (3.00 / 2)
OK, I'll go with Kucinich.  The point is that he's not a serous candidate, and we're wasting our time admiring the purity of his comments.  

Remember that... (4.00 / 1)

 when we have been "incrementalized" to death.

But let justice roll down like waters...Amos 5:24a

[ Parent ]
What Jake Said (4.00 / 1)
I agree with totally.

Here is a candidate who wants medicare for all and an end to the war in Afghanistan, and he is being criticized for having no money?

Isn't it the progressive's job to fight the uphill battle? Isn't it the progressive's job to point out the fact that we shouldn't go with the bs candidate simply because he has money?

I'm just astonished how pragmatism defeats idealism every time here at MLN. And where has pragmatism gotten us?

[ Parent ]
Maybe It's Just Human Nature (0.00 / 0)
I'm astonished too. How can the commentor a few lines above just say "he's not a serious candidate."

Case in point, try it sometime- make conversation saying that you have a great new idea to start a small business and see how many folks you talk to are supportive and enthusiastic about your striking off on your own, compared to the number that try to kneecap you with the "times are too tough, etc" rhetoric...

"If those in charge of our society...can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves." ~~Howard Zinn

[ Parent ]
Agreed (4.00 / 2)
And I am troubled that he would lash out at Dodd and Blumenthal, the latter being a shoe-in for election, and the former trying to battle against right-wing hit pieces in the media.  It seems that Mr. Alpert is all about Mr. Alpert, and he's willing to create unlimited fodder for Republicans when his campaign-without-a-hope predictably ends.

And no, there is no difference between "progressives" and "liberals".  And if one can find one iota of difference, it certainly doesn't warrant any time being spent on that iota of difference when we're locked in a titanic struggle against the Far Right in this country.

Ned Lamont challenged a sitting Democratic politician because that politician had turned into a Republican with no regard for Democratic issues or values.  He was right to do so, and he exposed a Republican hack who spent all of 2008 campaigning for the GOP's presidential candidate.  Good for Ned.

But Alpert just wants to create mayhem for solid Democratic politicians.  He's winning no friends with his tactics.

[ Parent ]
There clearly is a difference (0.00 / 0)
between Blumenthal and Alpert (you did watch the debate, didn't you?).  What Alpert wants is to give the voters a choice between a politics-as-usual candidate (i.e., Blumenthal) and a candidate who represents a clear alternative to the status quo (i.e., Alpert).

I don't see this as creating mayhem, but rather as breathing fresh air into a staid political system that seems to pre-ordain which candidate should and which candidate shouldn't be allowed to run.

Look, if you truly believe that Blumenthal is the candidate who best represents your vision for the future and believe that he is the one who can enact the changes you want, then by all means back him whole-heartedly.  But, if you are supporting Blumenthal only because he's been annointed by the Party elders and he has raised more money than Alpert, then I would kindly suggest that you may want to re-evaluate your priorities.

[ Parent ]
It's an interesting postulation (4.00 / 2)
But I would make it more of a comparison between say a Barbara Boxer or Lieberman and this is with the realization that Boxer supported Lieberman at one point.

I've seen Alpert, listened and talked to him and he impresses me as a very angry, driven and intense individual who presents well in public, is a comanding speaker and is very engaging. Merrick is also very much about himself, much like Lieberman.

Right now, Bulmenthal has the best chance to get the votes and all I am concerned about NOW is that we get the votes in the election.

However, no matter who wins, whoever is elected will become a creature of the Senate, like Boxer or Finegold or Kerry. And in the Senate, we need someone whom the whip can count on in the caucus. We need the votes.

This is written as one who grew up in a New Deal household. The label doesn't get counted, the votes do. That's why it's called politics.

Alpert is clearly the superior Senate candidate (0.00 / 0)
Look, Blumenthal is a competent Attorney General.

There's no vision there and Democrats like Dodd and Blumenthal don't solve any problems.  They are intellectual dead-weight in the Senate and for citizens that has meant going from being one of the most attractive States to being a drowning mess of a State.

Alpert deserves serious consideration.

- Frank Krasicki

Right On, Frank (0.00 / 0)

"If those in charge of our society...can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves." ~~Howard Zinn

[ Parent ]
Let us not make excuses. (4.00 / 1)
Kudos, Jake.
With regard to MEVD's comment about fund-raising: look, it's really quite simple.  We all know too well the influence that money has in political campaigns.  Mr. Alpert is an educated man, and he certainly doesn't seem naive.  So he must recognize the financial challenges that his grassroots campaign faces.

Of course, he will not be able to out-spend Republican candidates who have publicly announced their intentions to bank-roll their own campaigns.  And he certainly won't be able to out-raise his heir apparent Democratic challenger who runs a traditional campaign and has the vested interests (and, thus, the loyal political support) of corporate special interests - donors with deep pockets who want to see another career politician quietly slip into Dodd's open seat.  

But is that what American politics has come to: highly significant and influential elected offices (which are supposed to serve the citizens) going to the highest bidder?  Why even bother holding "elections?"  Why even bother preserving the facade of living in a democracy (in which, lest we forget, the average citizen's interests are supposed to be afforded equal consideration in the political process)?  Indeed, let us do away with those pesky documents we call the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence; let us remove the stars and stripes from the American flag; and let us rename this nation.  For absent a system of governance that respects the average citizen and champions the democratic principles, ideals, and political processes on which America was founded, the conception of liberty as we know it ceases to exist.

Further, anyone who concedes so easily (as the MEVD commenter above has) to the current "real world" deficiencies of our system of governance has lost sight of his civic responsibility to do something about those very problems.  Merrick Alpert is not such a person.  And neither are his growing numbers of supporters.  The political climate is ripe for an honest and tenacious advocate like Mr. Alpert, and without question fundamental change is on the horizon.

And how about the AG's record on progressive causes over the past decade or so... (4.00 / 3)
Do some research.  The man's record as AG reads like a list of progressive ideals.  Even if you give Alpert credit for his positions, they are simply that, ideas.  Not a record.  It's the difference between a progressives with ideas, and a progressive who has actually walked the walk.  The AG is not annointed.  He's earned his status as the clear front runner through hard work and dedication to his job.

This same issue mirrors the Governor's race.  A candidate with a proven record of progressive action, or someone with a good list of ideas.  I'll go for the guy who's actually done it.

Let's look at the AG's record (0.00 / 0)
During the debate, Blumenthal brought up his lawsuits to rein in electricity rates as a successful outcome of his actions.  If that's a success, I'd hate to see what he considers a failure.  Here are the facts:

Since 1990, the average residential price in Connecticut has gone from 10.01¢ per kilowatthour to 20.41¢ for 2009 (2009 data is for Jan-Nov only, as that is most recent available).  That is a 103.9% increase.

Since 1990, the average residential price for the entire U.S. has gone from 7.83¢ per kilowatthour to 11.61¢ for 2009 (also data for Jan-Nov only).  That is a 48.3% increase.

The difference in the rate that Connecticut now pays for electricity versus the rest of the country is 8.8¢ (which is 20.41¢ minus 11.61¢).  Or, CT's rate is 75.8% higher than the national average.

In other words, since 1990, the price that Connecticut residents have paid for electricity has more than doubled.  Meanwhile, electricity rates in the rest of the country have gone up by less than half that rate.  Connecticut's residents are now paying almost 75% more for electricity than the national average.

Furthermore, in 2001, Connecticut residents had the tenth highest electricity rate in the country.  Today, Connecticut has the second highest electricity rate in the country (behind only Hawaii).

This data is from the Energy Information Administration website.

[ Parent ]
One issue is not a record.... (4.00 / 1)
Its simply what you focus on.  A while were at it, when talking about energy, lets remember Alpert worked for a little outfit called ENRON.  Maybe he can help with CT's energy rate issue?  Or maybe energy traders such as himself are the cause of the problem?

[ Parent ]
Many good people... (0.00 / 0)

worked for Enron. You shouldn't try to tar everyone who ever worked there with the sins of Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling.  

But let justice roll down like waters...Amos 5:24a

[ Parent ]
There were 22,000 people (0.00 / 0)
who worked at Enron.  By your reasoning, all of them are the cause of our energy problem.

And, by the way, I didn't focus on the energy issue, Blumenthal did.  He is the one who brought it up at the debate.  If he is going to claim success on something, I think that claim should be investigated.  Or, perhaps, we should just take the good AG's word on it.

[ Parent ]
Good job Jake (4.00 / 4)
I'm embarrassed by all the liberals who bash Merrick Alpert because he dares upset the "status quo" cart.  Dick Blumenthal clearly believes that he deserves the nomination, and he will do little to appeal to the progressive crowd. Are we simply going to blindly support "safe" Democrats forever?

Where the heck was Dick four years ago when, if he possessed even one tenth of the political courage that Ned Lamont displayed, he would have easily trounced Lieberman and he'd already be our senator!

We need Merrick Alpert in this race!  He's acting as the conscience of the Democrats, and much like Kucinich, he's vilified for daring to go against the overly cautious Democratic power brokers.  If anything, he's giving Blumenthal a good excuse to raise more money, to rethink his "safe" positions on the issues, and maybe work on his debating skills. Not bad things, really.

The reality as I see it is I'd rather find out in a primary that Blumenthal maybe doesn't have the gumption to prevail in a tough race, rather than wake up on November 3rd with a Republican senator in Connecticut.  

Connecticut Bob

Bob, the only way we end up with a Republican... (4.00 / 2)
Would be if Alpert somehow damaged Blumenthal sufficiently with the base.

Yet somehow you're encouraging Merrick to get tougher?

Also, do you really believe Alpert is that much of a liberal at heart? (his resume suggests otherwise.)

If there was a chance in hell that Merrick could win this summer, I'd be giving him a pass. But right now he's just playing a Kucinich to John Kerry....  

[ Parent ]
If Alpert damages Blummie, it'll be the Democrats' fault (4.00 / 1)
Based on the many reports I've seen of Democratic Town Committees not giving Alpert a chance to even speak to their meetings (fortunately, Milford ain't one of those), the most likely way he'll cause any damage will be if he's driven to run as an independent.  Our party is well on it's way to creating another Ralph Nader.

I'm ashamed to see the level of hypocrisy demonstrated by the very core Democrats who should respect the intentions of any candidate who has the guts to run as an underdog.  Have we forgotten 2006 already? Yes, I know Blumenthal isn't Lieberman, nor is Alpert the same as Lamont, but if Ned wasn't ever given a chance to speak, where would we be today?

The Q-poll shows Blumenthal to be absolutely bulletproof.  I guess that means we shouldn't even entertain any other opinions.  Sorry, but I'm disappointed in us.  

Connecticut Bob

[ Parent ]
I don't trust Alpert (4.00 / 1)
To take one of your last points first, Alpert was invited to address the Greenwich DTC, though it is Blumenthal's home town.  No obstruction there.  But Alpert's attacks on Blumenthal as "incrementalism", when Blumenthal has stood up for progressive issue after progressive issue, is wrong, and suspicious.  Alpert's notion that Blumenthal has pushed businesses out of the state also smells of right-wing Republican under the surface.  I certainly have been disgusted with Dodd's and the other Senate Democrats' willingness to take Lieberman back into the fold, and we have to put the question to Blumenthal whether he will under any circumstance support Lieberman for re-election.  

But I have a visceral distrust of Alpert.  His progressive positions don't jive with his attacks on Blumenthal's excellent progressive record as attorney general.  Nor does Alpert's willingness to go after Dodd early on for what he said was financial corruption smell right.

It's not a matter of giving Blumenthal a free pass or not giving another progressive an opportunity.  It's about who Alpert is really is.  

I don't trust him.

[ Parent ]
Who is Alpert? (4.00 / 1)
This is probably the crux of the problem for me...

Ned was genuine, that came through immediately to me. I don't know what Merrick is.

I knew what Ned was running for. All I know is what Merrick is running against.

First he was running against Dodd. Now he's running against Blumenthal. It would be nice if he directed some of that anger at the Teabaggers. At least Ned was running against Bush.

[ Parent ]
Bob, Alpert is welcome to run, provided that (4.00 / 1)
he not tear into our soon-to-be nominee.

But you seem to be giving your okay to Alpert attacking Blumenthal as aggressively as possible, (from Merrick's newly adopted hard left.)

I'm not down with that, and am scratching my head trying to figure out why I should be.

Finally, if DTC's are giving Alpert the brush-off, maybe it's time to ask why? It could just be that Alpert is being given the respect, (or lack thereof), that he deserves.

[ Parent ]
Hamden gave Ned the brush off in 2006 (0.00 / 0)
Why, because Joe McDonagh loves Joe Lieberman. Some chairs are clueless. I wish Blumy did not support the war. But Merrick? don't think so but let him speak.

[ Parent ]
If Alpert... (0.00 / 0)

 contrasts his positions with Blumenthal's, that is not attacking or tearing into. It is hard to understand how running to the left of the Attorney General aids Republicans. If anything, you should be happy, as this gives Blumenthal a chance to burnish his centrist bona fides.

But let justice roll down like waters...Amos 5:24a

[ Parent ]
I have to agree here (0.00 / 0)
More and more I see the 'attack' cry here at MLN.  For goodness sake, we want these people to address their differences but in a way that never mentions the other person?  Doing the right thing is a fight.  Let these people address the issues, and at times, yes, the character of the other.  We can't be such softies about this, or write off a candidate because they address the other.

[ Parent ]
Changed the last line... (0.00 / 0)

The change seems less inflammatory and makes my point just as well...Jake

But let justice roll down like waters...Amos 5:24a

Thank You Jake Blount (4.00 / 1)
I appreciate your enlightened article.  Merrick is the progressive candidate because he is willing to articulate a lost vision that the mainstream of the Democratic party once had; that is, to support ideas and programs that benefit the more vulnerable among us and help the average working man and women.  

Starting with Reagan, the American people have been brainwashed to think that the word "liberal" is a dirty word, that people who are less fortunate somehow earned their station in life, and that unions which protect the rights of the working man are not necessary.  Right-wing idealogues have succeeded in having us blame the victim and have us think about the needs of ourselves and not others.  What happened to the left (and the correct) wing of the democratic party?

I admire Merrick's willingness to stand up for what is right and to not be afraid to offend the status quo.  I want a Democratic senator from Connecticut in the fall as much as any one but, honestly, do you really think that Dick Blumenthal can beat the Republican money machine?  We need someone who can aggressively take them on and call them on their nonsense.  I think Merrick will do that and Blumenthal will not.  

Yes. (4.00 / 3)
In answer to your question. Bloomie can beat the GOP money machine.

As someone who has run for a seat in Congress against an anointed opponent I know what it's like. But at no point in my campaign did I attack the members of my own party with anything that could be used as a talking point by the GOP.

I explained MY positions. I stated where I differed from the others in the field. But I never attacked a Democrat.

Do I feel Bloomie is the best "Democrat" for the job? Not really. I was sorely disappointed on him in the Lieberman issues. He could have done so much more by investigating the street money, etc. BUT, in the current field he does have the best chance of winning.

That doesn't mean Merrick should be locked out. Merrick should be able to have his say, to debate, to express his views and win support from those who hear what he stands for and shares his vision.

But, throwing GOP talking points out and doing the GOPs handiwork is not about expressing a vision, but about winning at all costs. It's burning the land so that no one can use it. His attacks stink.

As stated above, he was "running against Dodd" before and now he has turned that into "running against Blumenthal". That's a scorched earth campaign. That's wrong.

If he wants to run a campaign of ideas, then do that. If he wants to state that he has more progressive bonefides, then make that case with his ideas. Explain why single payer will save the country money and cover more people. Make a case that moves Bloomie to the left because the progressive ideals are BETTER than hugging the yellow line in the middle of the road.

Bloomie moves to the middle because conventional wisdom says that is where the votes are. Show him that passion and vision are where the votes are. That progressive ideals are where the votes are. If Merrick can do that by running a positive campaign, then more power to him. But as others have stated, when he runs as an attack dog for GOP talking points, he is not worth the time to consider.

The question is not what you are, we already determined that, we are now negotiating price.
electrealdemocrats.com Online since 3/07 -- TimetogoJoe.com Online s

[ Parent ]
Sad State of Affairs here in Eastern CT (0.00 / 0)
According to today's Norwich Bulletin, several DTC's will not give Alpert a chance to speak before them.  I think that is pretty sad to purposely suppress a candidate, hell, even crazy Lee Whitnum got more respect.  I have to say that I am not particularly proud of the CT Dem Party at the moment.

Read the article at http://www.norwichbulletin.com...

Really no excuse for it. (0.00 / 0)
Lamont was likewise refused opportunities to address numerous DTC's, including Bridgeport's.  And that was wrong.  Even though Greenwich is Blumenthal's hometown, we hosted Alpert recently, and without controversy or objection to his appearing.  We are Democrats, which means we are less authoritarian and more inclined to listen to alternative points of view.  Though the Norwich (?) DTC had endorsed Blumenthal, I think that Alpert deserves 30 minutes to speak to members.

Apropos of insurgent candidates, someone like former congressional candidate Lee Whitnum did not deserve to address DTC's, because her views are so bizarre, her candidacy so extreme, and her attacks so dishonest.  Lo and behold, however, Whitnum, now an ex-DTC member from Greenwich, was seen lurking around last night's Greenwich DTC meeting.  Indeed, on her website she announced that she's running for United States Senator!  

One can draw the line at "just plain nuts", and go on to more important business.

[ Parent ]
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