Two of the Good Guys: Perriello and Giffords

We need to support Democrats who are taking the courageous path.

The RNC has been targeting Congressional Democrats who represent GOP-leaning districts in a desperate attempt to stop health care reform.  Two of these Representatives are Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and Tom Perriello of Virginia.  And recently, Giffords and Perriello told them to shove it: they are both voting yes.

Perriello might be my favorite member of Congress.  He represents Virginia’s 5th district, which covers much of the state’s southside, and has a cook PVI of R+5.  Not only did Perriello defeat the odious Virigil Goode in the 2008 elections, but he represents a particularly compelling brand of conviction politician: he worked as a human rights prosecutor in Sierra Leone and has founded a series of faith-based political activist organization, including Faithful America and 24 Hours for Darfur.

Giffords represents Arizona’s 8th Congressional District, which is sort of ground zero for nativist sentiment.  Her district borders Mexico, but she has resisted crude anti-immigrant bias and has called for a comprehensive immigration reform bill.  Recall that the Arizona GOP has brought us such winners as JD Hayworth, Matt Salmon, john Shadegg, Trent Franks, and Rick Renzi.  There must be something in the cactus juice.

Both Giffords and Perriello are endangered incumbents this year: Stuart Rothenberg listed Perriello as one of the most endangered house members this fall.  You know the drill.


Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

10 thoughts on “Two of the Good Guys: Perriello and Giffords”

  1. Duly noted. And Steve Benen had a post yesterday about the Republican fearmongering that came with Social Security, including Alf Landon in the 1936 election warning that Social Security would force all Americans would be forced to wear identification tags around their necks.… has the story. Good for these two that they can stand up to today's Alf Landons. THe 1936 story bears much repeating; it is too bad that it has received so little.

  2. Contributed (very modest amounts, unfortunately) to both — thank you for the pointer.

  3. I will go to Perriello's Charlottesville office and personally help with GOTV efforts if he votes yes. I think Perriello is a good guy, and on a relative merits basis, he is light years ahead of Goode, who is loathsome. The only thing that might help here is that C'ville is actually growing, unlike other parts of his district, which are fairly moribund.

  4. Technically speaking, if you're a "Representative", doesn't "good behavior" imply representing your constituents? Rather than shoving things they don't want down their throats?

  5. No, technically speaking, being a representative means using your best judgment to do what's right for your constituents. If they are really convinced you did the wrong thing they will vote you out of office, as is their right.

  6. Then I think you're going to have to change the name of the position to something with less "Represent" in it. Maybe start calling them "Misrepresentatives", so voters can reasonably say, "Hey, good job of misrepresenting me!"

  7. “Misrepresentatives”– that's an excellent suggestion, Brett Bellmoron!

  8. Hey, we've got a bicameral legislature, on the theory that one chamber takes the long view, because it's insulated from the immediate wrath of the votes, and the other chamber reflects the will of the public, because it's up for reelection every two years. The result is a combination filter which is only supposed to pass legislation which is a good idea in the long run, AND popular with the people. Fail one of those tests, and it's not supposed to become law.

    Apparently you want TWO chambers that ignore the will of the people. I personally don't think that's very healthy for the legitimacy of the government in a representative democracy, but maybe you define legitimacy as, "The government doing what I want, and damn everybody else." I do get that impression here.

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