ora-logo
Register or login to post to the forum.
12 Jun, 2018 21:14

Below is the proposed statement by the national issues committee.


Our Revolution Arlington (ORA) has recently voted to not endorse Senator Tim Kaine for re-election to the Senate.

Initially, ORA was planning to stay silent this election cycle. While we have strong disagreements with Senator Kaine on many issues, including his opposition to Medicare-For-All and his acceptance of corporate PAC donations, we accepted the importance of this election and the need to prevent further Republican control of the Senate, and hoped that we could lobby Senator Kaine to adopt our policy positions in the future.

However, what transformed ORA’s lack of enthusiasm towards Kaine into a vote of non-endorsement are the actions he has taken since the election of Donald Trump. In that time, Kaine voted to confirm Mike Pompeo, an anti-Muslim Tea Party member who has expressed openness to bringing back waterboarding, to join Republicans in repealing crucial elements of the Dodd-Frank Act put in place in the wake of the 2008-9 financial crisis, and perhaps most alarmingly, has introduced a replacement for the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force which actually codifies and expands Trump’s ability to launch military action against any group in any country without Congressional approval, an especially horrific prospect now that John Bolton, one of the most hawkish men in Washington, has been made Trump’s National Security Advisor.  The danger which this proposed replacement presents is so extreme that it prompted Senator Jeff Merkley to introduce his own replacement, one which closes all of the loopholes of Kaine’s bill and successfully limits the president’s power to wage war unilaterally.

While we do not support nor encourage support of the Republican candidate, we are withholding support for Senator Kaine’s re-election bid until he withdraws his support for the AUMF he helped introduce and comes out in support of Senator Merkley's bill in its place. We encourage all other liberal and progressive groups to follow our lead in holding Kaine accountable for this reckless assault on both national and global security.

12 Jun, 2018 23:21

When looking at any proposal like this, I like to ask the question, "what are we trying to get out of it?" We don't have the power to influence Tim Kaine, and while it may in some sense be cathartic to rail against him, we have more to loose than to gain from doing so.

When doing nothing is the best tactic in a given situation, that's what we should do. Better to focus on specific issues and coalition building than to waste political capital in a fight we can't win.

13 Jun, 2018 00:06

I would like to suggest an alternative in light of Corey Stewart's nomination. Here is my suggestion, subject to additional word smithing:

ORA Endorses the Re-Election of Sen. Kaine with Reservations

Our Revolution Arlington (ORA) agrees with Senator Tim Kaine on many issues, but we also have strong disagreements on others, including his opposition to Medicare-For-All and his acceptance of corporate PAC donations.

Since the election of Donald Trump, our concerns with Sen. Kaine have only grown. Sen. Kaine voted to confirm Mike Pompeo, an anti-Muslim Tea Party member who has expressed openness to bringing back waterboarding. He joined Republicans in repealing crucial elements of the Dodd-Frank Act put in place in the wake of the 2008-9 financial crisis. And perhaps most alarmingly, has introduced a replacement for the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force which actually codifies and expands President Trump’s ability to launch military action against any group in any country without Congressional approval, an especially horrific prospect now that John Bolton, one of the most hawkish men in Washington, has been made Trump’s National Security Advisor. The danger which this proposed replacement presents is so extreme that it prompted Senator Jeff Merkley to introduce his own replacement, one which closes all of the loopholes of Kaine’s bill and successfully limits the president’s power to wage war unilaterally.

ORA finds Senator Kaine's actions on these issues unacceptable, but we also understand the importance of this election and the need to prevent further Republican control of the Senate. Additionally, we cannot ignore that the GOP has chosen Corey Stewart to be their nominee for Senate. In his failed campaign for governor, Stewart repeatedly embraced racist, anti-immigrant positions that should have been disqualifying for public service. He must not be elected.

Because we cannot encourage support of the Republican candidate, ORA hereby endorses the re-election of Sen. Kaine. In so doing, however, we must also speak truth to power. We expect more from our leaders than Sen. Kaine has delivered and have serious reservations about his candidacy. In particular, we cannot ignore that his AUMF bill, as written, will only exacerbate the scourge of perpetual war.

Accordingly, ORA will not promote Sen. Kaine's re-election until he significantly modifies the AUMF bill he helped introduce or agree to support Senator Merkley's bill in its place. We would like to work with Sen. Kaine to improve his position on this and other issues, but until then, we must encourage all other liberal and progressive groups to follow our lead in holding Sen. Kaine accountable for this reckless assault on both national and global security.

13 Jun, 2018 07:52

Hey guys, Dan here. Given Corey Stewart's nomination as Kaine's challenger, I have a few thoughts:

I like the tone and spirit of Jason's idea, but I still dislike the idea of saying we "endorse" Kaine; even though the letter makes it clear that our endorsement is largely in opposition to Stewart's candidacy, endorsing Kaine A) gives him a blank check to run a purely fear-based campaign a la the 2016 election, eliminating any incentive to change any of his positions, and B) implies that we like his platform generally, when our differences run much deeper than that. It also risks reducing us to another Democratic partisan group.

That being said, Stewart's nomination definitely can't be ignored, and it'd be a pretty awful look for us if we went around railing against Kaine without addressing that someone like Stewart is running against him. Therefore, a few approaches we could take would be:

1) Vote to do nothing. 2) Create a revised letter, which attacks Kaine's AUMF and encourages others to press him on the issue, without taking a position of endorsement or non-endorsement. This could be followed by a campaign to get others to follow us in attacking the AUMF. (this is what I'm leaning towards now, personally) 3) Add language strongly denouncing Corey Stewart to the existing letter, while still emphasizing that Kaine's AUMF is an existential threat that can't be ignored.

16 Jun, 2018 15:43

Building on the "camapign against the AUMF instead of Kaine" idea, I think if we were to pick that option, we could still release a statement announcing our non-endorsement of Kaine and explaining that the AUMF is the reason why, but without the implied threat of not voting and harsh tone against Kaine in the current proposed statement. Thoughts?

17 Jun, 2018 03:08

I'm struggling with all this—have written things from different angles and scrapped them all.

I agree with Jeff that we need to figure out what we are going to get out of this. Do we want to spend our political capital when we won’t have anything to show for it? I tried to make a decision grid with Actions, Upsides, and Downsides to figure out what I thought. It is imperfect. It may not reflect all options or what others may think of the options, but it clarified things for me. I'd share it, but it's an excel sheet that won't attach so here it is in a less accessible form:

  1. Be silent on election and AUMF UPSIDES: We'd continue to build credibility in local matters while being viewed as strategists on national matters. DOWNSIDES: Bad things happen when good people stay silent. ORA is interested in making progress at all levels.

  2. Be silent about election, lobby on AUMF (meet with Kaine’s people, write resolution, write letters, work with other progressive groups, etc—make voices heard, but not disruptively) UPSIDES: We'd express our opinion and try to change policy, while continuing to build credibility DOWNSIDES: Even though no position is taken on election, our actions may be construed as anti-Kaine if focus is always against Kaine, which could piss off local allies.

  3. Be silent about election, do hard tactics on AUMF (more disruptive) UPSIDES: We'd express our opinion and try to change policy, feels great DOWNSIDES: Hurts credibility, ORA viewed as not understanding stakes.

  4. Make statement about election—endorse with no explanation UPSIDES: ? DOWNSIDES: Betrayal of ideals, loss of credibility with membership

  5. Make statement about election—endorse with explanation UPSIDES: Builds credibility as strategist on national matters, explains and highlights views, avoids misunderstandings about who we want to win election DOWNSIDES: Could piss some local allies who want to win more cleanly.

  6. Make statement about election—say we will endorse if Kaine changes AUMF position. UPSIDES: Explains and highlights views, depending on how written, can avoid misunderstandings about who we want to win election, might put additional pressure on Kaine to change position DOWNSIDES: Probably not more effective than endorsing with explanation, so pissing people off to a greater extent for nothing. Viewed as not understanding the landscape or process. If Kaine changes position, he would be viewed as caving to pressure, so less likely to change--more palatable to be viewed as reacting to views of constituents (lobby) than to threat of non-endorsement.

  7. Make statement about election—refuse to endorse with explanation UPSIDES: Explains and highlights views, might put additional pressure on Kaine to change position DOWNSIDES: Would piss everyone off who doesn’t want Stewart. Viewed as not understanding the landscape or process. Kaine less likely to listen.

  8. Make statement about election --endorse Stewart UPSIDES:Included for completeness—NO UPSIDE!! DOWNSIDES: Too numerous to mention

After going through this, I think it would be better for ORA to endorse with reservations. If we say nothing and then hammer Kaine on the AUMF (or any other issue that comes up) we aren’t being clear who we think should win.

I would shorten Jason’s write up, and then do most of the advocacy in resolutions and lobbying efforts. We would get kudos for recognizing the reality of the situation, actually giving us the freedom to be scathingly frank in our issue advocacy.

I think the write up below (which I cobbled together from all the write ups) could be improved, and if anyone else agrees with me (a big if…), please improve this. I am leaving town tomorrow and can’t work on this for another week. By that time, I think it will be too late.

Here is my draft recommendation:


ORA Endorses the Re-Election of Sen. Kaine with Reservations

Our Revolution Arlington (ORA) agrees with Senator Tim Kaine on many important issues, but we also have strong disagreements on others. We strongly oppose Senator Kaine’s proposed replacement for the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which codifies and expands President Trump’s ability to launch military action without Congressional approval. His AUMF bill, as written, will only exacerbate the scourge of perpetual war.

However, despite major policy flaws, Senator Kaine is a far-better candidate for the Senate than Corey Stewart, the GOP nominee. In his failed campaign for governor, Stewart repeatedly embraced racist, anti-immigrant positions that should have been disqualifying for public service. He must not be elected. In addition, we understand the importance of this election and the need to prevent further Republican control of the Senate.

Recognizing the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two candidates, ORA hereby endorses the re-election of Senator Kaine. We encourage all other liberal and progressive groups to work with us in pressuring Senator Kaine to improve his position on the AUMF, and other issues.

17 Jun, 2018 10:54

Endorsing Kaine, even with reservations, would turn us into a de facto partisan group that Kaine and others like him can continue to ignore because after all, who else are we going to vote for? This is especially evident given that we did get a chance to lobby Kaine's office and they didn't listen to a word we said on the AUMF. I'd also like to point out that we don't agree with Kaine on many important issues; he's anti-Medicare-For-All, anti-tuition-free college, anti-ending the War on Drugs, pro-interventionist, and pro-bank deregulation. The list of things we agree with him on is actually very small. I'm in full agreement that we can't be as aggressive as I originally wanted to be, and I'm open to other approaches as well, but I'd prefer even complete silence this election cycle (which I'd like to remind everyone is still an option to vote for) over an explicit Kaine endorsement.

Edited 17 Jun, 2018 11:01
19 Jun, 2018 12:52

Thank you everyone for an important and respectful discussion. You will see all raised options in the voting form that will be released shortly.