The Most Important U.S. Senate Race in 2006
By: David Sirota, The Huffington Post
A lot of people have asked me which races in 2006 are going to be most crucial.
The disgusting Katherine Harris of Bush-Gore 2000 fame is running in Florida -
should defeating her be progressives’ biggest priority? Or what about taking
out wild-eyed right-wing lunatic Sen. Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania?
Both of these races, and many others, are definitely important. But if you are a
progressive who wants to start seeing some fundamental, long-term change (as
opposed to short term incrementalism), there’s one race in 2006 that stands
head and shoulders above the rest in terms of significance: The race to replace
retiring Sen. Jim Jeffords in Vermont.
Why do I say this? Because the leading candidate in that race is Vermont’s
Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders - the longest-serving Independent in
Congress. This is not a man who is independent in the “between Democrats and
Republicans” way - this is one of the most committed progressives ever to hold
federal office, a man who is an independent because he has long believed the
current political system is bought by Big Money. Electing him to the U.S.
Senate transcends this election because it would elevate one of the strongest
voices progressives to the national stage - a stage that, beyond a handful of
courageous leaders like Ted Kennedy and Paul Wellstone, has been sorely lacking
strong progressive voices for years.
You may have recently heard about Sanders after he managed to defy a veto threat
by President Bush and pass legislation to reform the Patriot Act. You might also
have heard about him when he was the first Member of Congress to take seniors to
Canada to highlight how the drug industry is ripping off Americans with the
highest prices in the world.
The Capitol BuildingBut if you don’t know much about Sanders and think I am
overblowing the case, do yourself a favor and read this new piece on him in
Vermont’s Rutland Herald - the newspaper that covers one of the more
conservative-leaning areas of the state. If you don’t want to read an article,
check out some video of Sanders’ angrily confronting people like Fed Chairman
Alan Greenspan - people that most bought-off politicians are too afraid to
criticize in private, much less challenge in public.
Make no mistake about it - the GOP and its Big Business backers are going to do
everything they can to try to knock off Sanders. They have already recruited a
multi-millionaire corporate executive who has pledged to spend $5 million of
his own money to try to buy the election. And Sanders faces special challenges
because he refuses to accept corporate PAC money. That’s why you should join me
in heading over to his website and making a donation. No matter how small, it is
important - Sanders has always relied on small contributions from ordinary
people to fund his campaigns.
For far too long, the U.S. Senate has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of
Corporate America, taking orders from Big Business and conservative interest
groups. Electing someone like Sanders to the Senate would finally give The Rest
of Us a voice in an insitution we have been locked out of. That’s why Vermont’s
Senate race is the most important election of 2006: because it goes beyond the
short-term partisan makeup of Congress, and finally gives us a chance to power
someone who fights for real people into the most exclusive, elitist-dominated,
and important institutions in America.