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November 08, 2007

Single Issue Candidates

Kevin Drum republishes bits of an interview with Tom Tancredo showing that Tancredo sees himself as playing a political role that has nothing to do with being elected president, and everything to do with acting as an extremist pole that can help pull the center of the immigration debate far to the right. Kevin wonders why liberals don't do this, and concludes "the answer is talk radio. Our extremists don't succeed in redefining the playing field because there's no institutional infrastructure behind them that converts lunacy into political pressure."

I'm not sure that's true. Forgetting for a moment that the blogs now serve a pretty similar purpose, Tancredo has not been engaged in an organizing effort. His presidential campaign is not about using talk radio to create a standalone movement capable of pressuring the Republican Party. Rather, he's using the structure of the primary season as his "institutional infrastructure" to force concessions from the presidential candidates. A Democrat could easily do that.

One of my real hopes for this election was that John Kitzhaber, the former governor of Oregon, would mount a single issue candidacy on health care. He's a former ER doctor with a Brian Schweitzer-like Western charm, and his whole focus is now on federal health reform. For whatever reason, he didn't take the bait, though there was a fair amount of pressure on him to do so. Luckily, Edwards, to some degree, stepped into that role, even if he didn't do it in a single-issue way. But this stuff works just fine on the Democratic side.

November 8, 2007 | Permalink


So Kitzhaber & Edwards are the ideological equivalents of Tom Tancredo? Their health care & economic planks are radically out of the mainstream, with base support of maybe 25% of the party. UHC is not leftish. Nationalizing Health Care and the complete destruction of the insurance industry and private health care might be left enough to move the Overton Window. Maybe.

Give me a break. Neither the Democratic Party of the liberal blogosphere provides and support for views left of center-center-left. See previous post, substitute "phony leftists" for "phony centrists."

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Nov 8, 2007 11:37:25 AM

A Dodd staffer told me this is precisely what they're trying to do with their campaign.

Posted by: Ykcir | Nov 8, 2007 11:45:31 AM

Well, they're doing a terrible job then. They've not chosen an issue to lead on, and their health care plan, if that's what you're referring to, is worse than the Big 3's.

Posted by: Ezra | Nov 8, 2007 12:22:37 PM

I'm from Oregon, and have always wished that our former Gov Kitzhaber a) had a big enough ego to be compelled to run for President and b) didn't have young kids that he rightly values spending time with.

Kitz would make a great presidential candidate, and a great president.

Posted by: Robin Ozretich | Nov 8, 2007 1:29:04 PM

Not a single issue candidate, but a physician supporter of single-payer, Steve Blythe, is challenging Weldon in FL-15.


Check him out!

Posted by: dr.steveb | Nov 8, 2007 1:48:19 PM

During the course of discussing why Al Gore won't endorse a primary candidate, Kate Sheppard convinces me that Al Gore has run a single issue campaign without being a candidate.

Decide for yourself:


Posted by: Aaron | Nov 8, 2007 2:02:07 PM

Um, try this

Posted by: Aaron | Nov 8, 2007 2:04:35 PM

Dodd's single issue is the war, I believe. Though he did a good job of forcing the other candidates' hands on the telecom immunity bill.

Posted by: tps12 | Nov 8, 2007 2:05:06 PM

For crying out loud.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Posted by: Aaron | Nov 8, 2007 2:07:27 PM

This is also a failing of Kucinich. Here he is, far left on all sorts of issues (and correct on at least some of them), but he never really attacks the frontrunners no matter how far to the right they run.

Posted by: Dilan Esper | Nov 8, 2007 2:47:23 PM

I've always really liked Kitzhaber, too. I wonder if he could be talked into a vice-presidential run.

However, he is - through the Archimedes Movement, which is a sadly-below-the-radar attempt to influence the health care debate.

Posted by: SDM | Nov 8, 2007 3:43:30 PM

Um, terrible grammar. I got distracted mid-post.

Posted by: SDM | Nov 8, 2007 3:45:42 PM

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