Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thank You Harold Ford Jr.

You ran a good campaign. Last year, when you announced for the Senate, there was barely a rumbling outside of Tennessee. The conventional wisdom then was, Bill Frist would give up his seat to another Republican, and no serious effort would be needed to protect it from some young, inexperienced, black man with family issues from Memphis. But something happened on the way to the polls.

Ford was able to innoculate himself early on from the misdeeds of his uncle, the bribe taking John Ford by simply stating, "I love my family, but I'm my own man." Instead he made the race about his record. A record which for me at least was a little too conservative. As a member of the House, Ford voted both for the war and the bankruptcy bill. I am left wondering had Ford been a middle aged white man with a wife and two kids, would the outcome have been different? I know of at least two incidences of people voting for Democtatic Governor Phil Bredesen and Democratic House member John Tanner but unable to vote for Ford because he is black. I'm not playing the race card here, this is absolutely true. And I suspect it is true among a lot more voters in Tennessee. But I won't go so far to say Ford lost because he is black. Corker also ran a great campaign. He should be congratulated.

But my main point is this: Ford did the country a great service. By running such a well focused and agressive campaign he forced the RNC to dump millions of campaign dollars into what was once considered a relatively safe race. Money that obviously now, may have been better spent elsewhere. Although one could argue that the RNC got their money's worth, they won. But did they win Tennessee at the expense of Montana or Virginia? (As of this writing there is no official winner in either Senate race)

So Ford deserves kudos. He demonstrated that the Dems can compete in the dirty south. There are fewer and fewer "safe" seats for the GOP across the country. The Nixonian Southern Strategy is in its "final throes, if you will" to borrow a phrase from Chaney.

So thank you Harold Ford Jr. Even in defeat, you have done your country a great service. And thank you American electorate, you have restored accountability and checks and balances to our national government.


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