Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Tom Perriello is Running for Governor of Virginia

Tom Perriello became one of my favorite politicians back in 2010, when he voted for the Affordable Care Act despite warnings that it would cost him his seat in Congress. He had eked out one of the narrowest victories in the Democratic wave election of 2008, making him one of the most vulnerable Democrats as the 2010 vote approached, but he didn't care. He told Politico,
There’s got to be something more important than getting reelected. If I lose my seat, and that’s the worst that happens, I could live with that.
Really, more Congressmen should take the same attitude; after all, most of the ones who lose re-election get pretty good jobs. Perriello became a diplomat for the Obama administration, serving for a while as special envoy to the war-torn Great Lakes/Congo region. He already had a lot of experience in Africa, as wikipedia summarizes:
From 2002–03, Perriello was Special Advisor to the international prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, where he worked with child soldiers, amputees, and local pro-democracy groups, and helped to prosecute warlords. He later became the Court's Spokesman and helped to indict Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, peacefully forcing him from power. 
So when I heard Perriello was running for governor of Virginia, I was intrigued. Perriello has the views that a lot of Democrats think we need in the Trump era: he is strongly progressive on economic issues but waffly on guns and abortion, a combination that earned him his two-year stint representing a district that Trump won by more than 10 percent. His signature issue may be his hatred of corporate monopolies and love of anti-trust actions, and he can get very wonky when he talks about the "consolidation and monopolization of the economy."

I read through the stuff on his web page, but really it was very much like what any other Democratic candidate would have. You can some sense of Perriello from this profile at 538. and this Slate interview:
Interviewer: If there is one lesson you take from the 2016 election, what is it? I have almost no patience for postmortems and finger pointing, but I am wondering what your vision of how to move forward from such a colossal defeat looks like.

Perriello: The forces of economic and racial anxiety, if left unaddressed, are on a collision course in America. Debates about which factor is stronger obscure the interconnection and thus acceleration of both. We also often miss the fact that economic anxiety is not limited to those below certain income levels.

Too often, Democrats defend the status quo, noting positive GDP and unemployment numbers instead of speaking to the underlying forces that threaten economic security. When we say our only problem is with messaging, we imply that voters are too dumb to realize how great we have been for them or would be for them. People are smarter than elites think. They already know that both parties were naïve about the costs of globalization and can see that both parties are again failing to address the impact of new forces like economic consolidation, automation, and exclusion.

Many people I meet know that Trump is full of smoke and mirrors. They recognize that he is two decades behind, and that we are no longer losing our manufacturing to China, but rather to computers. But at least Trump showed up and acknowledged their pain. As Democrats, we need to show up. We need to tell the brutal economic truth that of these jobs aren’t coming back, and we need to offer a better solution than blaming minorities. We can do this.


pootrsox said...

I have very much appreciated Northam's positions et al as Lt. Gov here in VA.

But I shall pay careful attention to both him and Perriello now. But I have to confess, as important as the economic issues are (and from what you've cited here, I think Perriello is dead on target) I'm also concerned about issues affecting women, including reproductive rights. And I am concerned about education, LGBTQ rights, etc. Perriello seems much too traditionally "conservative" on those issues for me.

I would not be happy with a governor who was right only on economics-- because I don't think that the VA legislature will let any governor do what is needed in places like the Northern Neck or southwest VA.

John said...

Right. This is an interesting election partly because attempts to cast it as Mainstream vs. Insurgent Progressive won't fit the complexities of the candidates.