This is No Way to Run For Congress, Matthew Guyette

The good news is that John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives and my congressional representative, has a Democratic opponent this year: A fellow by the name of Matthew Guyette. This is good news in that last election cycle Boehner ran unopposed, and generally speaking democracies are healthier when their elections are contested. Whether one intends to vote for Guyette or not, having a choice for one’s vote is a good thing.

The bad news is that at this point, it appears that the way Matthew Guyette is planning to run for the position of the Ohio District 8 Representative to the United States Congress is to put up a Facebook page and fill it with a bunch of snarky memes dedicated to the proposition that Republicans generally and Boehner in particular are, like, bad, and you should totally hate them. In other words, a page largely indistinguishable from umpteen million other snarky liberal and/or Democratic pages on Facebook.

What I can’t find on Guyette’s Facebook page: Any real information on who he is or any useful, detailed articulation of what his political positions are and how he plans to implement them if he gets to DC, or why he, in particular, deserves my vote over Boehner this November. The best I get is a sentence or two at the top of the various links and memes, most of which do not offer any substantive food for thought. Beyond that: Nothing useful.

So I thought, well, maybe all that is on Guyette’s Web site. I scrolled back to the top of the page, looking for the official “Guyette for Congress” Web site link. And didn’t find it. Fine, okay, I went looking for it on Google — which is already, incidentally, more than most people in this same situation would do — and came up with nothing. What I get is the Facebook page. I will note that at the top of the Facebook page there’s a link to an ActBlue page to collect contributions, but that ActBlue page is almost devoid of any information about Guyette beyond the “I am running against Boehner! Send me money!” sort. ActBlue has a $30K goal for Guyette; as of me writing this, he’s at $484.

And no, I didn’t donate. Why? Because, for starters, I know nothing about this dude, nor is he making it easy for me to learn anything. Facebook pages filled with memes, snark and links are not a substitute for a serious campaign Web site with serious and useful information for voters. Look, I’m deeply unlikely to vote for Boehner, this year or any other. But I’m not going to vote for Guyette — or anyone, for that matter — just because he’s running on the “I’m not Boehner” platform. You know what? I’m not Boehner, either. Not being Boehner is not that special. You have to give me something more. I’m perfectly happy not to vote for a Democratic contender for OH-8 if I don’t think he or she is worth my vote. Maybe Guyette is, but I don’t know. He’s not telling me.

Boehner, incidentally? Very nicely put together campaign Web site, with all sorts of details on his positions, what he’s doing, who he is and his engagement with his district. His facebook page? About his accomplishments and positions, not so much with the snark and memes. And, it has a link to his campaign site right where I can find it. If I was voting strictly on coherent social media messaging, this race would already be over, and Boehner would get the vote.

Mind you, this is part and parcel with how the Democratic party does things around here in OH-8. Boehner is basically unassailable in the seat until or unless he decides to retire and so the Democrats don’t appear to want to make that much of an effort. On one hand, this is understandable — why throw money and effort into a race you’re simply never going to win? — but on the other hand, come on, guys, throw me a bone, here. At least make me feel like if Boehner got hit by a truck and the Democrat was then the only living candidate in the race, that I could feel like whoever was running would do a better job in the role than Boehner’s flattened corpse. There’s more to being a Representative than being against one’s opponent. In Guyette’s case, I have no idea what more he brings to it.

So: Convince me, Mr. Guyette. Because otherwise, while Boehner won’t get my vote, you won’t get it either. You can start with a site — a real one, away from Facebook — that actually tells me what you are for, not merely who you are against.

Update 5:45pm: Commenter John Mark Ockerbloom notes another Democratic contender in OH-8, Tom Poetter. And look! He has a Web site with information about him and his positions! It’s just that easy!

76 thoughts on “This is No Way to Run For Congress, Matthew Guyette

  1. I agree. Saying that someone else sucks is a bad campaign platform. It probably doesn’t work in other venues either.

  2. This seems to be the problem in most of the GOP districts where the DEMs have gone home. They gave up. And letting someone like this piss on the election doesnt really help to ever change that situation.

  3. Bravo, John! I am so tired of Democratic Party unprofessionalism. We have very similar dysfunctionalism going on in my area. I need them to show me they can handle constituent services, & tell me something real about the platform. And maybe clean up some of the most blatant cronyism. Every time they make a good move, they take the next opportunity to blow it. (sigh)

  4. I have long suspected that much of politics would work better if you had the option of voting “none of the above”, and if that’s what wins, then the office is simply assumed by fiat to vote no on everything, veto anything it can, and do nothing. This would be an improvement over at least some candidates.

  5. Yeah, I know what you mean. Here in Texas, the Democrats barely even try. The runoff for Democratic candidate for Senate (and the right to be trounced by John Cornyn) is between a crazy woman who wants to impeach Obama (Democrat, remember) and a wealthy dentist with no political experience. Basically, two people who should be Republicans.

    I wish I were kidding about this.

  6. Yeah, you absolutely have to tell people what you’re for. Just running against won’t get you anywhere, even if people are generally against the same thing you are. Obama at least understood this in 2008. The GOP was absolutely toxic at the national level, but he still went out and talked about what he wanted to do. It paid off. The Republicans seem to have forgotten this basic political maxim over the last decade or so.

    It’s perhaps less surprising that the Democrats aren’t making a big push to unseat Boehner. There used to be a sort of gentlemen’s agreement that the Speaker and the Majority and Minority Leaders in both houses were off limits. The Republicans tossed that out the window in 2004 when Bush, Cheney, and Bill Frist campaigned hard against Tom Daschle. The Dems haven’t responded in kind to date, though it looks like they’re going to in Kentucky.

  7. We have some democrats here who do that too. They always lose. They need to run FOR themselves, not AGAINST the whole republican party. (Against Boehner is fine, since that is who his opponent is.)

  8. My default position on political offices is “when in doubt, vote them out” as it is usually difficult to get someone worse into office, especially given that the new person would have to start at the bottom of the patronage (excuse me, “Committee membership”) ladder which limits their opportunities for mischief. But I’d sure like it if we had a “None of the above” option like the one Radical Bender describes or if we went to an Aussie-style preferential voting system; I suspect that either change would work to move more politicians into the middle. And that would make a nice change from where we are today in the USA.

  9. I think you can even defend making your entire site on Facebook; I’m sympathetic to a lost cause not wanting to drop money down a hole. It feels wasteful. But you can put pictures, statements, policy papers, whatever, on FB and Dropbox or Google Drive shares.

    I guess it’s the difference between viewing a run at office as purely an ego & get-the-job thing vs considering it also a chance to advance a platform. I’m not a huge fan of political parties but if they’re going to exist they should do so as something other than employment lock-in operations. This guy might not ever win but a run could be a chance for the DNC to shine a light on what they think Boehner is failing to do for OH.

  10. Peter Cibulskis: I’m a liberal who lives in Ohio’s 2nd congressional district, I’m within spitting distance of Boehner’s district. The Republicans controlled the redistricting process in Ohio in 2010 and gerrymandered the hell out of the state, carefully chopping it into 12 safe Republican districts and 4 safe Democratic districts. It’s virtually impossible for a Dem to win Boehner’s seat, or 11 other seats.
    In 2012 Dems won in aggregate 47.94% of the votes cast in the U.S. Congressional races, yet they won just 4 of 16 seats.
    Right now the Dems are concentrating their time, money and energy on state-wide races – governor, attorney general, etc., which *are* winnable.
    The Dems didn’t go home, they were carefully gerrymandered out. Google “ohio congressional districts” and take a look at the ridiculous shapes of districts in Ohio.

  11. [Deleted for being both a pathetically lax attempt at a swipe, even by dpmaine’s standards, and also being aside the point of the entry. Dpmaine, if you’re going to troll, try to troll on point — JS]

  12. As far as I can tell, Matthew Guyette isn’t actually the Democratic nominee at this point; rather, he’s campaigning from the Democratic nomination, which will be decided in a primary on May 6.

    There’s another Democrat also vying for the nomination, Tom Poetter. His website’s here:

    http://www.poetterforcongress.com/

    I can’t say he’s running a particularly strong campaign either (last news update was back in November, for instance). But he’s raised over $14,000, according to ActBlue, well more than Guyette has.

    The May primary is also when the Republican nominee will be decided. There isn’t a whole lot of doubt who will get the nod, unless something happens to Boehner, but Ballotpedia reports that there are a few Republicans challenging him for it:

    http://ballotpedia.org/Ohio%27s_8th_Congressional_District_elections,_2014

  13. I think you’re being a little too hard on him. Reading through his introductions and responses to the snarky memes, I found it pretty easy to get a very good idea who he is as a person and his policy interests and beliefs. It *did* feel like the webpage of a random liberal activist friend of mine, rather than a campaign’s, but I think I got a better sense of the man that I ever would on a professional website. His selection of memes puts him in Bernie Sanders territory.

    Anyone who thinks traditional campaign websites are better, go have a look at Obama’s first campaign website. I *like* a lot about Obama, but the page contains broken promise after broken promise. Guantanamo is still open, we don’t have a high speed rail system, the ACA is darned watered down compared to the website’s promises, the spying on Americans he objected to he expanded, etc. Bush’s website from when he first ran is even more embarassing – no more nation building! (Seriously, that was one of his points of emphasis!) And yes, I know that realistically politicians can’t keep their promises, even if they mean to, and new circumstances can change points of view. Even more reason to prefer an honest snarky display of a politician’s beliefs and personality to standardized and vetted campaign promises that will never be met.

    As to whether a traditional website would be better at attracting voters, that I don’t know. Though it’s a stay-at-home election for Democrats, being a midterm, and he’s facing a candidate everyone assumes he can’t beat, so perhaps a risk taking out there campaign that rolls the dice is better than a calm and traditional functional surrender.

  14. John at this time in American history voting for a Democrat is always preferable to voting for a Republican. The whole party has passed on from regular villainy to cartoonish super villainy. I wish I was joking but I am dead serious. It doesn’t matter if the democrat doesn’t have a good website.

  15. Sadly it seems that the term “My honorable opponent…”, followed by actual reasoned discourse, has become an endangered species. It doesn’t help that voters appear more likely to vote for candidates who would be more at home on reality TV, and once those candidates are in, letting them behave like it.

  16. MPAVictoria:

    “It doesn’t matter if the democrat doesn’t have a good website.”

    Well, yes, it does, if the lack of a good Web site means I would be voting blind. And no, voting for a Democrat is not always preferable to voting for a Republican; I’m not going to vote for an incompetent over someone whose positions I disagree with but who is on balance a conscientious Representative for his or her district. I’ve voted for Republicans before (notably Frank Wolf when I lived in Virginia) and would do so again if I felt it desirable. At this moment in time I am not at all likely to vote for Boehner for all sorts of reasons, but if his opponent does not give me sufficient reason, I won’t vote for him (or her) either. I don’t do default votes.

    Johnny Carruthers:

    I don’t believe Boehner is at all concerned about his primary.

  17. Some people create Facebook pages before they create a proper website. I really don’t get this, but it’s 2014.

    There is also the question of what day it is. ;)

  18. What an embarassment of riches this year. Not only do you have a Democratic candidate, you have 2! And a Primary!

  19. John, I live in a district that has not elected a Republican since the Hoover administration. I have an excellent Congressman but he wouldn’t have to be. Every two years some total dingbat runs on the GOP side. The last one had a record as well as some insane positions. This is what you get when the parties gerrymander their states to produce the results they want. The parties are not going to dump a lot of money into a district they have no chance to contend in. That means they are not going to get a lot of smart, quality, people to sacrifice the time and effort to run.

  20. “And no, voting for a Democrat is not always preferable to voting for a Republican; I’m not going to vote for an incompetent over someone whose positions I disagree with but who is on balance a conscientious Representative for his or her district.”

    A conscientious Repubilican (not that conscientious people are Republicans) is still someone who is going to vote for a Republican House Speaker and Republican Committee Chairs. This means that voting for ANY Republican congressman means voting for cuts to food stamps, medicare, education and more. It means voting against labour rights, women’s rights and gay rights.

    An incompetent Democrat will still support a Democratic House Speaker and Democratic Committee Chairs. It is as simple as that and I am actually surprised that you don’t agree.

  21. @Colin – Saying that someone else sucks is a bad campaign platform.
    Otherwise known as current Australian politics in a nutshell :(…

    @John – preferential voting is great in the House of Reps (our equivalent to Congress). Although it would be a lot better if both our major parties noticed that they’re only pulling in about 30% of the primary vote (i.e. getting elected because people are preferencing them as 5/6 instead of 6/6). Preferential voting in the Senate however is getting a bit out of hand. C.f. 2013 Federal election (http://senate.io/senate/2013/nsw#preferences= and http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-31/senate-electoral-inquiry-could-put-end-to-preference-trading/5357558)

    @MPA Victoria – It is as simple as that and I am actually surprised that you don’t agree.
    Eaaaasy there tiger…You’re sliding perilously close to “Clearly my opinion is RIGHT, how could someone possibly have a different one?”

  22. “Clearly my opinion is RIGHT, how could someone possibly have a different one”

    Well I am surprised.

  23. First things first: a pithy and appropriate quote.

    Don Whiteside:

    If push comes to shove, you can ask a volunteer to push pixels in Squarespace for a weekend, and focus on the quality of the copy. healthcare.gov a campaign site ain’t… and I’m appalled by how much vendors have been charging for exchange sites, particularly given how many of them have launched completely b0rked sites.

    As slogans go, “can’t be arsed to try” would at least amount to a refreshing breath of sincerity.

  24. Ah, what we here In California would give for an opposition candidate who campaigned on a platform of “I’m not the other guy.” Instead, the Republicans can’t seem to field a candidate who isn’t clinically insane, diagnosable with either bipolar disorder or schizophrenia (I wish I was exaggerating, I sincerely do). But, like the House Speaker, our Senators have zero chance of losing against a Republican, so the Republican Party has no interest in bothering.

    Which is to say, your situation isn’t unique, or even unique to red states.

    I’d cheerfully vote for my former roommate’s dead cat before any incumbent at the national level.

  25. We’re having our senate election re-do this weekend here in Western Australia. I get to either pick one party above the line (and have my preferences automatically allocated according to their preference stylesheet) or number all seventy-two candidates below the line. Yes, that’s right, seventy-two.

    Fortunately, I know who I’m voting against (and therefore who is going to be occupying the bottom however many positions) as well as who I’m voting for (occupying the top spots). I’m still going to be making someone’s job in the AEC horrible for a lot of next week, though, because they HATE dealing with the folks who vote below the line on the senate papers.

    At the moment, I haven’t seen much actual campaign materials from any of the parties aside from the Palmer United Party (a new party started by a millionaire in Queensland for the previous election because he wasn’t being paid enough attention by the local Liberals and Nationals). Since I wouldn’t be voting in favour of Clive Palmer’s ego in a million years, it’s headed straight to the recycling.

    And yes, a lot of the Australian political process for the last few years has been very much about campaigning on “at least I’m not the other guy” (“At least I’m not John Howard” – K Rudd, 2007; “At least I’m not Tony Abbott” – J Gillard, 2010; “At least I’m not Julia Gillard OR Kevin Rudd” – T Abbott, 2013).

  26. I agree completely with MPAVictoria, but would add one other fact. Right now there are probably enough “conscientious Republicans” in the house to pass an immigration reform bill. But it’s not going to pass because those same Republicans voted for Boehner for speaker. And he’s not going to bring it for a vote. An incompetent, but loyal, house Democrat is preferable to a Republican.

    With respect to the Texas democrat primary, what’s wrong with Dr. Alameel’s background? He’s an immigrant veteran entrepreneur philanthropist. He’s also got a good website with good policies.

  27. @MPA Victoria

    A conscientious Republican (not that conscientious people are Republicans) is still someone who is going to vote for a Republican House Speaker and Republican Committee Chairs. This means that voting for ANY Republican congressman means voting for cuts to food stamps, medicare, education and more. It means voting against labour rights, women’s rights and gay rights.

    There is logic to that strategy, bit it isn’t the way everyone chooses. If you are faced with two candidates, and one supports a party not aligned with your goals but you believe that he would offer better constituent services, or might better serve your district, then there is a trade-off there. How happy are Leeland Yee’s constituents with their choice now?

    There are millions of Republicans, are you telling me that you don’t know a single one who is conscientious? Do you know any Republicans?

  28. “There are millions of Republicans, are you telling me that you don’t know a single one who is conscientious? Do you know any Republicans?”

    By definition conscientious people cannot be modern Republicans. Conscientious people think gays should have the same rights as everyone else. Conscientious people don’t take food out of the mouths of small children while supporting tax cuts for the rich. Conscientious people believe in climate change and want the government to do something about it.

  29. To the Democratic Party, it might seem like wasted money to foot the bill for a candidate who will almost certainly lose, but it’s not. Because, despite the seeming inevitability of some candidates’ re-elections, the operating principle in politics is, You Never Know.

    Take the district in upstate New York where I grew up. It’s pretty conservative up there, and the district was gerrymandered to make it even more so. Back in 2006, the Congressional incumbent, widely believed to be unbeatable, was running against a relative unknown named Kirsten Gillibrand. Gillibrand was a credible, articulate candidate who ran a real campaign, despite the long odds. Then, shortly before the election, someone leaked a police report from 2005, in which the incumbent’s wife had reported in a phone call that her husband was “knocking her around the house.” I know, I know,,,what are the odds of a Congressman being suddenly enveloped in a political scandal? Yet it happened, and Gillibrand moved ahead of the incumbent in the polls, then won the election. A short time later, she was appointed New York’s junior senator to replace Hillary Clinton, then won two re-elections. It was an improbable rise to the Senate, but it happened. And it wouldn’t have if Gillibrand hadn’t run a competent campaign, and if she hadn’t received the support of other prominent Democrats, like the Clintons.

    It’s what every good salesman knows: maybe the customer’s unlikely to buy, but you’re going nowhere if you don’t ask for the sale.

  30. MPAVictoria:

    In fact I don’t agree with you, and I think your belief there are no conscientious Republicans is, flatly, wrong. I have voted for several over the years; moreover, I’m pretty sure I’ve never voted a straight ticket for either party.

    Beyond this, in my particular circumstance, in which the likelihood that Mr. Boehner will not be returned to office is so small as to be completely insignificant (he’s been in office for 25 years in a district that has been Republican since the 30s) that even if I were inclined to hold my nose for an incompetent Democratic candidate, he or she would still lose. That being the case, I’m not in the least inclined to encourage the Democrats to field substandard candidates here. Have chosen not to vote for the Democratic candidate before for this; if I don’t like the one this time, I won’t vote for him, either.

    I don’t think you’re likely to gain much headway in this particular topic with me, so let me suggest you chalk it up as one of those “agree to disagree” moments.

  31. John Mark Ockerbloom – I should not, at all, be surprised to find you here. Yet it’s still neat to see your name in lights, as it were. – Harimad

  32. Fair enough John. Consider it dropped. If I may make one suggestion, it would be worth your time to read Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns and Money on this issue. I think you would find what he has to say on this illuminating.

  33. As Ockerbloom wrote above, this is a primary election. That is, there’s very little of a filter here for candidates – some of the people running in the primary may be very ordinary schmoes, people who have day jobs and are new to politics and don’t have a lot of money or rich friends or political experience, and so on. And therefore, since these people may be amateurs, their efforts may be amateur. The primary is the first filter – it is intended to let the strongest candidate pass and other candidates not pass, so that said strong candidate can then compete in the elections proper.

    In other words, Scalzi’s complaint above is sort of like complaining that most eighth-grade students don’t write competent novels, or something like that. The competitors in a primary are EXPECTED to be amateur and vaguely incompetent; they are performing exactly at grade level. Especially in a race against John Boehner in a R+14 district, which is to say a district that no Democrat has any chance whatsoever of winning in. Smart candidates, competent candidates, tier-1 candidates – the kind that Mr. Scalzi would like to vote for – are smart enough to know that it would be a gigantic waste of time and money (mostly their own money) to run against Mr. Boehner, and so they will not do so. Because they are smart.

    Imagine you can run a 100-meter dash. Against the current world 100-meter dash champion. And it will cost you $50,000 to enter the race. And the current champ starts 50 meters ahead of you. Would you do it? No. Because you’re smart.

    So I can’t tell Scalzi who to vote for. What I can say is that all primaries will necessarily have some less-skilled candidates in them, and also that the quality of the final Dem. candidate/campaign in a R+14 district against John Boehner is not going to be the highest, and both of those things are simply due to the system at hand and not due to any particular failings of the Democratic party or anything else. The same scenario in reverse plays out in many D+14 districts, and so on and so forth.

  34. I feel you. I live in CA-23 [formerly CA-22], which is Kevin McCarthy’s district and the Dems have not run anyone against him for three terms and don’t appear to be running anybody against him this year either.

    I contacted the state org a few years ago and they blew me off. While I despise the Republicans, I’ve come to hate the Dems as well. *spits* They’re all shills for The Corporate State at this point.

  35. JS–

    You should run. It is much easier to criticize than to step up and do what you think is right. You already have a large platform and an opinion on almost everything. You know how to make a website. And you have a lot of followers.

    It is immensely easy to criticize, from afar, a candidate for office. Running for things that are parallel institutions to civil government may make it easy to remember that those organizations in the big picture don’t matter. You were President of the SWFA, have been on various award juries, but how about you make a contribution, even if you lose, to the actual civil administration of government?

  36. John’s criticizing the incompetent campaign of one candidate, he’s not criticizing the other party. It never ceases to amaze me how candidates for office (as well as many businesses and yes, even some authors [no, not John]) have a miserable media presence. At this point, it should be Political Campaigns 101. It’s important to communicate with those whose support you desire.

    @Eric Aitala
    Boehner’s crew could at least use a current version of Drupal… like, Drupal 7….

    Yawn… does the website function? Does it communicate the positions of the candidate? Does it really matter that they didn’t use a current version of Drupal?

  37. Dpmaine:

    I have no ambition to run for public office; the work doesn’t interest me, not do I feel it is the best use of my particular talents. Should I run for public office it will likely be a local office, rather than a national one, as that is where I would feel my particular talents would be best suited.

    Also, of course, I do my part for the public weal by paying my taxes, thus paying the salaries of those in public office, and by voting, actions which allow me to freely criticize, on the grounds of getting value for my money and my vote.

    Independently, the argument that those who criticize should run is similar to, and as incorrect, as the argument that those who criticize art should have to attempt making art. In both cases the usefulness of the critic is not contingent on their ability to do the thing they are criticizing. They use different skill sets.

    However, this is still aside from the thread topic, so let’s go ahead and cut off this particular thread of conversation and get back to the actual topic at hand.

  38. It seems to me that this person is actually a Republican sockpuppet, a candidate in cahoots with the Republican incumbent designed to be the Democratic stereotype that Republicans push so incredibly hard. The only thing missing is a “stump speech” consisting of “Derp, derp, derp, derp!”

  39. I’m a member of the executive committee of my county’s Democratic Party, and involved at the state level, in one of the redder counties in… oh, pick any Deep South state, and it’s close enough. You may not be “inclined to encourage the Democrats to field substandard candidates”, but there are two big mistakes in that statement. First, you’re assuming there are good candidates to field. Second, you’re assuming that the Democrats are fielding this guy to begin with.

    Candidate recruitment is pretty much impossible (and often even undesirable) for races like OH-8. It takes a minimum of about $25K out of your personal pocket to actually run a congressional campaign, even a shoestring one. If you’ve got that kind of spare cash lying around to begin with, you’ve got to be willing to blow it on getting maybe 35% of the vote (and if you don’t already know that, your early polling will tell you). Campaigning can sometimes be fun, but more often it’s a hell of a lot of work. Donations and volunteers are finite resources, and anything that goes to your campaign is money that’s not being put toward your governor or senate races. Politics doesn’t tend to have much in the way of second acts, so you’ve blown a shot at elected office, which will hurt you if you later want to run for something more achievable.

    Anyone who’s a serious enough person to have the money and background to run a real race is a serious enough person to know that there are better uses for their time, effort, and money. It’d be great if we could field real candidates for every race, but lacking an magic evergreen candidate tree upon which to grow rich and smart people who like losing and wasting their time, it simply isn’t going to happen. So almost by definition, anyone running in a race like OH-8 is a fringe candidate who’s purely in it for ego gratification purposes.

    You don’t generally have to get your party’s approval to run as a Democrat (or Republican). All you need to do is walk down to your Secretary of State’s office with your papers and your filing fee and say “I want to run as a Democrat”. Per Ballotpedia, in Ohio, it takes an $85 filing fee and 50 signatures of registered voters to become a congressional candidate, and that’s it. Some states have tougher requirements to weed out these people, but in a lot of places, you’re basically a congressional candidate when you say you are. No vetting, no party signoff, no monetary support from the party, nothing.

    It might be more correct to say that we in the parties really can’t do much to STOP these fringe people from filing to run in our primaries. In my state, we’ve got a “Democratic” candidate who is actually a hard-core Tea Party guy — he’s running as a Dem purely to cause as much mayhem as he can. Remember, Fred Phelps and Randall Terry of Operation Rescue have done much the same in the past, not because they’re Democrats, but to exploit campaign regulations and party by-laws. This guy isn’t any more “fielded” by the Dems than they were, though he at least appears to actually be a Democrat. Being listed on the ballot != being sponsored by a party.

    Poking at Matthew Guyette, or at the Democrats on his behalf, is a total misunderstanding of how all this actually works. It’s kind of the equivalent of me saying “why don’t you just self-publish like that Hugh Howey guy?” — sounds vaguely plausible to an outsider, but anyone who’s actually involved with the sausage-making can tell you that it’s not the real story at all.

  40. Huh, this is kinda funny. I think Guyette is actually perfect candidate for you.

    Snarky page devoid of any substance that’s desperately trying to appear clever and hip? That’s you John, that’s Whatever and that are your books. You and Guyette – match made in heaven. :D

  41. See, I tend to agree with those who’ve said that one cannot in good conscience vote for a Republican in this day and age — and I say that as someone whose very first vote was cast for Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield, a liberal Republican, and I’m still quite proud of that — but I’ve always known, as an extremely longtime reader of this site, that my politics and Our Host’s differ on many many many key points, most important of which in this case is that I’m a partisan (I’m a member of the Democratic Party, even though I’m actually far, far further to the left than most Democrats; I remain a Dem to honor the memory of my grandfather, and because of FDR and Truman and suchlike) and he’s not.

    At the same time, there are two other points I’d like to note: no matter what a lousy congresscritter I think John Boehner is, that doesn’t make Matthew Guyette a good prospect of one (though I’d vote for him or any other Democrat over Boehner in any event myself, if only to keep the reanimated corpses of Senator Hatfield and my sainted grandfather from coming and haunting me), and at the end of the day, John’s vote is John’s vote, and if he declines to give it to anyone — or to one Michael Mouse, esq., or to no one at all, that’s nobody’s business but John’s.

  42. JS–

    There’s more to being a Representative than being against one’s opponent. In Guyette’s case, I have no idea what more he brings to it.

    This is not true. If you are in the minority in the House there is literally NOTHING MORE TO BEING A REPRESENTATIVE THEN BEING AGAINST ONE’S OPPONENTS. There isn’t even a constituent services role that is substantial anymore. There is nothing but voting the party line.

  43. A note on Radical Bender’s comment above (4/1, 5:02). The crazy, “impeach Obama” woman referred to is possibly a Libertarian / Tea Partier masquerading as a Democrat to serve as a spoiler in their primary. This tactic has been discussed fairly openly around Texas by the more radical conservatives activists (who are justly afraid of Texas’ demographics heading in a “blue” direction in the coming decades).

    As for me, I guess I’ll vote for the dentist if he gets on the ballot, as a vote for Cornyn is simply beyond the pale.

  44. John Kerry ran on “I’m not Bush.” No President Kerry. Mitt Romney ran on “I’m not Obama.” No President Romney. And while we’re on the subject, anyone notice Al Gore’s platform was “I’m not Clinton”? That took a special kind of stupid that ended up all the way into the Supreme Court in what should have been a slam dunk election. Hmm…

  45. I do love the idea expressed waaayyy above of the option for “don’t like any of these trained monkeys”. I was fed up with our local zoning board for a number of reasons, last year, went in to try to vote them out, no can do. Same people running, all the time. I have a similar gripe locally, no-one seems to run on what they want to do, what they’d actually like to change/accomplish/etc. We actually had a couple of new candidates last year, but all I got from their promotional material was “we are married with beautiful children, church, God, country” GRRRRR. I ranted a little in the local Patch for that election, because, damnit I don’t vote according to party, I vote according to what I want to see happening in local government. Granted, I’m starting to feel as if no-one talks the talk or walks the walk. Its discouraging. And yet, democracy and choice are still the best options out there. People are dying for democracy and free speech all over the world. For the chance to have what we’ve messed up. I’m not saying it can’t be fixed, but we have to stop this “me”/”them” mentality. Maybe a “none of the above” option would fix the problem. (Sorry about the long post, pushed a couple of buttons)

  46. evil–

    Those people you mention were running against an incumbent. That’s what you have to do. The power of incumbency is massive – a study from Stanford showed that an incumbent gets 100+ mentions in the press, per week, for their entire term for a US House seat. That means they get, on average of 104 weeks in office, 10,000 mentions.

    For the Presidency, that’s obviously even more. It’s not a joke all the TV shows (Leno did it often) you get people who don’t know anything – anything – about the government. Who their Senators are. Who their US rep is. The name of any Supreme Court justice. Who is President. Who is Vice President. This is a thing.

    Gore is a little bit weird, Gore was running against Clinton in a way, since Clinton’s 2nd term exploded into (mostly manufactured) crises and scandals.

    Not being known is a huge problem. Almost as much as being disliked.

  47. I have no ambition to run for public office; the work doesn’t interest me

    That’s pretty much why Congress is in the toilet. It’s not a job. It’s not interesting, rewarding work, it’s civil service.

  48. Do you think this guy’s fb page and approach resonate with millennials more than old folks like me? Millennials appear to be highly focused on media exposure and seem to place a lot of value on generating volume in that respect.

    I mean personally someone like Mr. Guyette is an utter fail with the approach he’s using. I really have no patience for a politician who prefers to bitch and moan about someone else rather than try and address the actual problems and seek solutions.

    How old is he?

  49. dpamine:

    One, no, civil service does not have to be a pain, and some people enjoy politics, as it’s done on a national level here in the US. I’m not one of them.

    Two, I thought I told you we were done with this particular thread of the discussion, as the conversation here is not about me, it’s about people actually in the running for the position. So quit it, please.

  50. You are not going to get high quality competition in locations where its overwhelmingly liberal or conservative. The national committees will not give money to cancidates who can’t win. They have to make strategic choices. High quality candidates are not going to run. It is alot of effort to run for congress. Is it possible to hold a job while running for office? So your asking someone to go without income for an extended period of time in an election they can’t win. I wouldn’t quit my job to do that.

    The same thing happens in very liberal areas. Republicans don’t get quality candidates to run and the republican national committee is not going to invest money there. It doesn’t make alot of sense.

    That being said, even though I would vote Boehner, no one should run unopposed. Competition is good.

  51. Another agreement with Victoria – given how precariously balanced Congress is, unfortunately I’d vote for a zombie if they promised not to eat my brains and vote with the democrats.

    Did you see Paul Ryan’s complete joke of a budget yesterday – no cuts to the military, tax slashed for the 1% (eliminating capital gains tax completely), social programs cut to pay for it? Or the SCOTUS decision today to remove funding limits? If the only way to stop more Republican SC justices and such a budget is to vote for a zombie, I’d put down the cricket bat and vote for Zombie, Rotting (D) in a heartbeat, even if the local R was a sensible human being, he’d still vote/confirm against my interests.

    Fortunately the Tea Party prevented the Republicans from taking over the Senate with unelectable wackos, hopefully the same thing will happen this year.

  52. I lament once more the current state of politic discussion in the US, where being Democrat or Republican has devolved into more than Us and Them and into out and out vilification. I know there has long been animosity between parties and that there have always been deep philosophical divides between the various political factions, but it seems like since the 90s (and Newt Gingrich’s new politics) it has grown increasingly overtly hostile in a way that is both embarrassing and depressing.

    The assertion that anyone who is Republican is a mindless servant of the oligarchy or that anyone who is Democrat demands a nanny state reduces all discussion to the point of parody.

  53. @dpmaine:

    Running against an incumbent is unsuccessful when your candidacy is simply “I’m not him.” Reagan ran successfully against Carter, not by simply saying “I’m not Carter,” but by asserting he was better than Carter. Clinton did the same thing, running against GHW Bush by not simply saying he was different, but emphasizing policies and positions he asserted were better.

    All candidacies are about emphasizing the differences, but the successful ones are about persuading why your differences are preferable to the other candidate’s. If your only reason why someone should vote for you is that you’re not the other, you’re not going to be terribly successful. (See Martha Coakley thinking she could walk into Ted Kennedy’s old seat in a 2010 special election by simply not being Republican.)

  54. [Deleted for stupid. Muscles, you have yet to ever offer up a comment that isn’t complete shit, so you’re in the moderation queue until further notice. Have fun! — JS]

  55. JS– my comment is not directed at you. It’s directed at why we get low quality candidates like Matthew Guyette. Congress isn’t a job, it’s supposed to civil service.

  56. “The assertion that anyone who is Republican is a mindless servant of the oligarchy or that anyone who is Democrat demands a nanny state reduces all discussion to the point of parody.”
    In the House, you have no individual identity. There is no actual business conducted by the House. It is, entirely, party-driven. There are no real investigations (Rep’s typically get 2-5 minutes to make a speech and then move on), no real appropriation, no oversight, no rule making, and no lawmaking. You are a fractional cog in your party machine.

    It is not parody it’s how the House works. You are your party.

  57. Hi all! I ran for office in VA last year, so can speak to some of this. A) I was prepared to run as an independent if I didn’t get the Dem endorsement (but I did! Yay!) B) Seriously running takes time, effort, and money. Mostly time. And hopefully you get money from other people. Which takes time. C) It’s true that a candidate MUST offer something other than, “I’m not that other person”.

    It’s also true that in many places there is no party vetting for the candidate to go through. Thus, in Tennessee a couple years ago, a rabidly anti-gay candidate was the Dem nominee for Senate. Seriously. That happened.

    All that said, I’d like to point out that if you don’t like any of the candidates on the ballot, you can either run yourself, or use that empty slot at the bottom of each section of the ballot and WRITE IN A NAME of some one ELIGIBLE TO SERVE that you think will do a good job. (Please do not write in “Mickey Mouse”. He’s not eligible to serve.)

    You can even put together a write-in campaign for an eligible person. Eligible tends to mean, lives in the district, of voting age (or of the minimum age to serve in that office), and not a felon.

  58. Is it me, or has the trolling gotten worse around here?

    Given this guy is running for the primary, it’s not terribly surprising to find candidates with substantially different levels of political persuasive capacities.

    As for “none of the above”, I think that’s a horrible idea. The biggest problem with the House of Representatives boils down simply to gerrymandering. House Democrats won a majority of the popular vote in 2012, but Republicans control the House by 33 seats. That is the direct effect of gerrymandering.

    Fix gerrymandering and you’d fix the biggest structural problem with the government today.

    The Senate is designed to represent states rights because there are always 2 senators per state. But the House is supposed to represent the popular vote. Gerrymandering directly obstructs the Constitutional design of congress.

  59. dpmaine:

    “my comment is not directed at you.”

    Well, no. Inasmuch as it was a direct response to and comment on something I said, it was therefore directed at me. Stop playing silly games. If you want to comment on Mr. Guyette, do so without using me as the lead in.

  60. I’d vote for you because you aren’t Boehner. You’d best be careful stating your qualifications so openly like that.

  61. Hi John,

    Given our past divergent opinions, I want to make sure that I offer some kudos for your position here. There is a fair amount of Bulverism that gets tossed back and forth between various philosophical camps. A good person works to see past that sort of thing. Well done.

    If I venture an opinion, I think that American Republicans are somewhat cartoonishly presented to citizens in other countries. At least, the blow-back seems to indicate this to be the case.

    The use of the term “labour” suggests the UK or one of their colonies (former or otherwise).

    Regards,
    Dann

  62. Very little about politics takes into account common sense. Remember, Democrats are following the example of their leadership, and seeing as President Obama got elected on the “I’m not Bush” campaign, you can really blame another Democrat from doing the same?

    The Republicans have been trying to run on a solutions platform and they keep loosing, so maybe Mr. Guyette has the right idea. Pander to the kids on facebook who will turn 18 just in time to vote. Most of them will just either vote for the candidate of the party they want or they pick a name they remember hearing, how else do you explain Al Franken or Arnold Schwarzenegger being elected.

    The era of the educated voter is long gone, which is sad because information is so easy to find these days. We are now ruled by pure party politics, a duopoly, where common sense and intelligence is not represented by either choice.

  63. I have been reading many of your comments and find some of them to be very insightful. Some of you have already made my case much better than I could have. Others have engaged in what can only be described as armchair quarterbacking. To those who fine me “snarky” I would direct them to read the comments, profanity and threats that have been leveled at me. While it is perhaps true that I should not sink to the level of the Facebook trolls attacking me, neither have I felt comfortable in the rarefied atmosphere of the ivory tower since my teenage years.

    As you have already surmised I am a political neophyte. But in the last election there was no opponent running against John Boehner and I decided to run. My intentions are honorable: I am a lifelong Democrat and a legal resident of the Eighth Congressional district; although due to the Boehner “trickle-down” economy I was forced to look elsewhere to obtain work that would allow me to meet my financial obligations.

    I recently posted a Biography on my Facebook site and plan to be posting a set of positions on important issues soon. A website has been in the works but I have been dealing with some painful but temporary back issues while trying to work 2 jobs, so I have had limited time to put one together and have been reduced to running my campaign on Facebook.

    Matthew Guyette
    Greenville, Ohio
    Democratic Candidate for the Eighth Congressional District

  64. Matthew Guyette, I’m not one of those who posted profanity, threats, or anything else about this previously, and I don’t live in your district, so I have no dog in the fight. Let me just make a couple of points, though.

    1. You said, “To those who fine me ‘snarky’ I would direct them to read the comments, profanity and threats that have been leveled at me. ” And …? If you hope to be in public office, you’d better grow a thick skin and learn how to respond to profanity and threats in a more mature way. I don’t think you meant your statement to be whiny, but come on. Your defense is that people were mean to you? Really? People have been mean to me on the Internet since 1996, and I knew where and when to reply in kind and where and when to let it roll off and respond like an adult. Your campaign page? Not a good place to let your inner bratty adolescent show his ass. When candidates have public meetings and attempt to have slanging matches with hecklers in the audience, it never looks good for the candidate. You’re doing the Facebook equivalent of that in some of your comments.

    2. Being in Congress is harder than running for Congress. If you aren’t campaign-ready when you start your campaign, perhaps you have bitten off more than you can chew? Does Ohio not have local and state offices that would provide you with some experience in (1) running for public office and (2) holding a public office?

    You’ve heard that first impressions are lasting, so it probably wasn’t such a good idea to run your campaign on Facebook and let that visual mess of links and joke graphics make that first impression. But it’s your choice.

    Good for you for coming here to participate in the thread, though. Best of luck to you.

  65. I stayed out of this one for the sake of my sanity, but now that things have calmed down a little and the trolls have tasted the Mallet of Loving Correction, I feel safe in posting the following, which is the sum total of my thoughts on this matter:

    *headdesk*

    There. That was it.

    The Dems are squandering a really sweet opportunity to beat the Repubs, who seem to be divided between rich old white guys and nut jobs, by running idiots. Which is pathetic.

    It’s nice to see (from the update) that there’s at least one non-idiot running for the Dems against Boehner.

  66. He responds on his web page. From what I have gathered from debate with him is the following. He is openly gay. It’s not just the ridiculous memes that he uses to poke fun of the republicans. He honestly believes they are all idiots. Openly making fun of them like he has a wealth of intellect. He is pretty through and through hardcore democrat. The bad type that believe in raising minimum wage and siding with Obama on everything. As much as I despise Boehner and typically vote for myself for this district. I will be voting for Boehner. Something I hate to do. This guy is an ads though. I wish we could get a Libertarian on there.

  67. Scott

    I think you deserve a commendation for the subtle way in which you smuggled the Libertarian dismount into your post; not many are able to do that.

    Unfortunately, it’s rather hard to work up enthusiasm for conversing with people who resort to the Libertarian dismount…

  68. I see that Tom Poetter has won the OH-8 Democratic nomination in light turnout, by a margin of about 1500 votes over Matthew Guyette:

    http://ballotpedia.org/Ohio%27s_8th_Congressional_District_elections,_2014

    Boehner easily won the nomination on the Republican side, though J. D. Winteregg, the strongest Republican challenger, got more votes than the Democratic nominee. Which suggests it’ll be an uphill battle for Poetter, but anything can happen between now and November.

    Meanwhile, if you live in Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Oregon, or Pennsylvania, I hope you’re going out to the polls today as an informed voter.

Comments are closed.