Mark Brewer and Steve Pestka: Taking the “Democratic” Out of the Democratic Party

As MLive reports, the state Chair of MI’s Democratic Party, Mark Brewer, has asked the Democratic primary candidates in my congressional district to take the democracy out of the primary.

He doesn’t call it that, mind you. His DoubleSpeak for asking Steve Pestka and Trevor Thomas not to talk about each other’s record is “Clean and Fair Campaign Agreement.”

I write today to ask you both to put [commitments to focus on Justin Amash] in writing by signing and abiding by the enclosed “Clean and Fair Democratic Primary Campaign Agreement.”

One of the clauses in the proposed agreement is:

To avoid attacks on each other’s records and positions by any means, including the media, campaign literature, advertisements, phone calls, mailings, e-mail and speaking engagements. [my emphasis]

Apparently, the guy running MI’s Democratic Party thinks it’s “fair” to voters to gag all discussion of candidates’ past records. And Steve Pestka, who said he will sign this gag order, agrees!

A couple of notes about this proposed gag order.

This is yet another attempt (at least the fifth I have heard or witnessed over the course of this primary) by leaders in the Democratic Party–the same one running against the GOP’s war on women–to silence all discussion of Democrats’ own attacks on women’s autonomy. As far as I’m aware, the only part of Pestka’s record that Thomas has addressed (thus far) was his anti-choice votes while serving in the MI House (indeed, MLive suggests that’s what this is about, as well). Pestka’s campaign, meanwhile, just wanders around saying Thomas has no record (ignoring, of course, Thomas’ role in getting DADT repealed; apparently that doesn’t count).

So this is not about gagging discussion on a policy that Justin Amash would use to bash the Democrat, cause he’s rabidly anti-choice too. Rather, it is about preventing voters from learning what Steve Pestka did the last time voters entrusted him to represent their interests. Mark Brewer’s idea of a “fair” primary is to prevent women from being reminded that Pestka’s record includes a history of legislating against women’s autonomy.

Apparently, we girls aren’t allowed to hold him accountable for voting against our interests.

Furthermore, Brewer built this gag order to be asymmetrical. He didn’t ask Pestka and Thomas to avoid talking about their own records–meaning Pestka would be gagged from mentioning he served in the House and Thomas would be gagged from talking about his role in a key civil rights victory. Rather, this gag order would allow Pestka to continue sending out lit pointing to his time in the State House as one thing that qualifies him to serve in Congress, without allowing Thomas to point out some of the terrible votes he made while there.

If you’re going to gag discussion about past records, Chairman Brewer, you’ve got to gag discussion on both sides!

There’s one more really disgusting aspect to this gag order. Brewer attempts to gag not just the campaign itself, but both his reference to “the media” in the passage above and in the scope of those the candidates would have to gag if they agreed to this–“campaign teams, including staff, surrogates, advisors, consultants, vendors and volunteers”–people far beyond Thomas himself. I’m not formally part of Thomas’ campaign at all (I have donated to his campaign, though), but I am “the media.” I also happen to be a 3rd CD voter who finds the paternalistic way the Democrats have pushed Pestka–“shut up girls! don’t talk about his anti-choice record!”–to be profoundly anti-woman. Is Chairman Brewer really proposing that Thomas be fined every time I speak, as a 3rd CD voter and registered Democrat, for the importance of a candidate who fully supports women’s rights?

That’s what the Democratic Party has come to?

Who knows. Maybe there’s a bright side to this. Pestka’s campaign loves to attack Thomas–who grew up, went to college, and worked in the area, then returned home after succeeding in DC–as a “carpetbagger.” Since this gag order also imposes a fine for personal attacks, I assume Pestka’s campaign will start doling out $1000 to a charity of Thomas’ choice every time they continue to make such stupid attacks.

Maybe Thomas should name Planned Parenthood as the charity Pestka will have to donate to?

11 replies
  1. lefty665 says:

    Go for it! You’ve got a platform to get their attention.

    The “Oh don’t say anything the Repubs could use” crap is part of why we quit the party. It is both profoundly undemocratic and anti-Democratic. You’ve got it right on the money.

    In addition to calling them on the issues, figure out how to laugh at the Blue Dog, DLC, Dick Morris toe sucking, right wing, Tea Bagger wannabes. They really can’t stand to have their status as earnest, responsible, “serious” people ridiculed.

    Whatever happened to “I’m not a member of an organized political party, I’m a Democrat”?

    Here’s a couple more from Will Rogers:

    “You’ve got to be an optimist to be a Democrat, and you’ve got to be a humorist to stay one.”

    “And kid Congress and the Senate, don’t scold ’em. They are just children thats never grown up. They don’t like to be corrected in company. Don’t send messages to ’em, send candy.” – Works for state parties too.

    “When you get into trouble 5,000 miles from home, you’ve got to have been looking for it.”

    “Ten men in our country could buy the whole world and ten million can’t buy enough to eat.”

  2. JTMinIA says:

    Since a majority of the Great Unwashed choose who to vote for by inferring the ethnic background of the candidate from their last name, I don’t see much of an effect of this.

    (I wish I was joking, but I’m not.)

  3. mike tarp says:

    Pestkas polling has him defeating Thomas 84-11 with 5 percent undecided. The general will be very close between Peska and Amash though

  4. Matt says:

    Mike Tarp. You just made that up.

    If you support Steve, I don’t think it represents him well to have to lie about his strength.

    Paul Mayhue, who ran a campaign on something like a tenth of Trevor’s budget, garnered more than 30 percent of the vote against Miles two years ago, and that primarily was not nearly as fiercely contested.

  5. mike tarp says:

    Not made up, Thomas also only garnered an 11 percent name recognition. Though Peska’s was not ideal either at around 52. I interned for almost a month on their campaign

  6. orionATL says:

    republicans care about “issues”, however demented their issues may appear to democrats.

    democratic party “leaders” care about getting elected, and only about getting elected. this is a major characteristic of a dying dynasty trying desperately to hang on.

    that democratic ‘leader” care only about being elected is why the democratic majority of decades ago has been so successfully eroded at every level of gov’t by republican challengers slinging whatever hash the times and circumstances will support.

    writing in blogs is useful because informative,

    but the only real solution, as in all of human conflict about values and power,

    is open warfare over a period of time.

    nothing else – absolutely nothing else – will cleanse the democratic party of its calculators and schemers and free up opportunities for its visionaries and moral leaders.

    whoever mark brewer may be, he is just, at best, a well-intentioned flunky of an ancien regime.

  7. orionATL says:

    @mike tarp:


    – if peska has such a lead, and

    – thomas has such poor name recognition,

    why would the state party chair care about what either candidate said about the other?

    almost nobody knows who thomas is, right?

    unsolicited advice to thomas – burn the barn down if necessary.

    hillary clinton got sucked into the “mustn’t say anything bad about another dem candidate”, and the nation ended up with a republican in all but name as its democratic prez.

    more unsolicited advice, forget your political future and your current “electibility”,

    focus on the present and most especially on the desperate need for change in the democratic party,

    and attack peska tooth and claw, women retaining control of their inherent fertility being in the forefront of that attack.

    if amash has the numbers to win, nothing you will do in attacking peska will change that, though you will be blamed.

    and while you are fighting a morally corrupt democratic party, consider attacking mark brewer frequently and forcefully. independents and some dems might approve.

    rebels are those who have nothing (more) to lose and nothing to hope for, save change.

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