I detect a simple difference in the way Republicans and Democrats describe their candidates. Democrats in Tennessee almost always seem to degrade their candidate by saying things like, "Neither of these candidates is any good, but at least (insert a random, hard to articulate reason to support a democrats majority here)." Republicans do not frequently make the same comments. Is that because the Democrats have no good candidates and are forced always to settle for the bottom of the barrel? Hardly. It is because it is simply harder to prepare to defend one's choice on the issues, and the transformation of liberal into a dirty word means that Democrats who would defend the experience, ideas, and records of their candidates must first withstand a barrage of negativity that is not easy or fun to deal with. Political discourse, however, will not be restored by simply complaining that the other side shuts us out. The time has long since come for citizen supporters of democrats in Tennessee (and over 850,000 voted for Harold Ford last night) to re-engage the discourse.
Democrats in Tennessee care just as fervently about their neighbors, their state, and their country as the Republicans who put their lives on the line for public service. Democrats in Tennessee need to engage political discourse in a positive and honorable manner. Just as we ought to be careful to disparage the motives and personality of Republicans who oppose us, we should begin to be more careful about disparaging the motives and characters of those candidates who ask for our votes and represent the ideals that Tennessee Democrats hold dear.
"The lesser of two evils" is incredibly discouraging talk. When people put their lives, families, and careers on the line to serve the citizens of Tennessee, we need to avoid dishonoring that incredible sacrifice by calling them "evils." We need to return the focus of our discussion to the issue that separate the candidates and the opportunities they offer for the good leadership the people of Tennessee so desperately need.