10/05/2010 03:30 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Senator Patty Murray and the Nation

How is it that Patty Murray (D) only has a single digit lead over Dino Rossi (R) in Washington State?

I met Senator Murray Sunday, diminutive and in her fabled tennis shoes. I shook her hand and, while uttering that it was an honor, felt the tiny delicacy of that hand, that hand that wields the power of a more-than-equal among the only one hundred Senators of the United States of America. I felt I had gripped it so hard that I might crush it and so suddenly let go. In this tiny hand, I saw a metaphor for the delicate liberal grip on government.

True, there are two Washington States, one half red, east of the Cascade Mountains, and one blue, west of the Cascades. True to the form of the national picture, the blue regions support the economies and public services of the red regions. Red states are net welfare states while blue states produce the bulk of GDP and tax revenue. On average, red states and region are poor, contributing less to government taxes than they receive in benefits from government. Conservatives are the real burdens, both public and private, not Reagan's myth of the "Welfare Queen".

Senators are elected at large, meaning the red beneficiaries of the largess of the blue half of the state are free to screw themselves at the polls. But you still have to ask, how can a blue candidate not have the support of the red half of a state when their economic welfare depends on the state being net blue? Is the maladaptive and antisocial philosophical allure of Social Darwinism so compelling that red voters will chose it even though it means their own more than likely impoverishment? Perhaps it says something about the fitness of the red voter to survive, an irony of Social Darwinism they seem not to have examined.

In the "you're on your own" philosophy of the Republicans, red regions will be poorer still on their own. They may have to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" and "take personal responsibility" for their roads and schools and police and fire, their crop subsidies and irrigation projects.

Politics do make a difference. All of the progressive legislation of the last century has built an economic engine that is unrivaled in history. No, it wasn't capital. Capital, by itself, is not interested in building economies. Capital is interested in the most profit to be had for the least effort, it does not build nations.

By legislating in the interest of the economic welfare of the working middle class, liberals created the economic icon that is the United States. They did so by logically simple things like creating a minimum wage to offset the power of capital to depress wages, by establishing a 40 hour work week, through Social Security and Medicare which underpin the ability of people to consume with relative confidence. Wages and economic security drive demand, and demand is business. Liberals created the economy of the United States against the, paradoxical, fierce opposition of conservative business.

Senator Murray has made a political career out of making things better for people, starting with her local PTA and leading to the Senate of the United States. Rossi is a former Washington State Senator and failed two run candidate for governor whose connections to the banking lobby wound up with him owning interest as a principal investor in Washington based Eastside Commercial Bank.

The man is a banker, literally. His bank is under investigation for capital ratios and lending practices. From the Politico article:

Last year, the federal Comptroller of the Currency, which monitors capital ratios, declared Eastside had "engaged in unsafe and unsound banking practices relating to its strategic and capital planning, credit underwriting, credit administration, concentration risk management, and liquidity management."

No such investigation is pending for Murray's Parent Teacher Association. It is not, entirely, a facetious contrast. Government and business have long been equated by the right. If they are to be equated, Rossi's malfeasance in business, then, must equate to probable malfeasance in his role in government.

Malfeasance in business/government is most commonly expressed in corruption, in a conflict between the interest of business profit and the interest of the public. Republicans want profit from business with government as its hand maiden. Philosophically, Democrats are in government to best serve the interests of people. Democrat's clients/constituents have less money than has business. Not a very good choice for Democrats when it comes to payday.

It really is this simple: Republicans want to make the rich richer and Democrats want to make the poor and middle class richer.

So it's not just a contest between a PTA mom, Murray, turned a fine U.S. Senator, and she can speak for herself on her accomplishments in the Senate, and Dino Rossi, a real estate agent turned banker lobbyist. It is urgent that we emphasize the difference between these two in order to level a tilted world, a world tilted towards self destructive conservative lunacy.

Senator Murray is real, rational and tough. And while Citizens United SCOTUS decision money pours into the State of Washington to buy an office for Dino Rossi, an office he could never win on merit, Murray is fighting back with what she has. Dino has eight times the soft money, but Patty has her tennis shoes. She has her tiny hands and her heart of iron and her tennis shoes with which to walk from door to door and make the world more a better place. She has my love and admiration, and my words for what that's worth.

We should be a nation of Patty Murrays.