Monday, November 14, 2005

A Cuppa with Joe Hoeffel

To entertain and enlighten those readers who may be visiting here from Philly Future, I am hoping to present a few things out of the ordinary. As one of these I had a virtual coffee klatsch with Joe Hoeffel, who has served as Congressman for the 13th district, Democratic candidate for the Senate, Montgomery County Commissioner, and State Representative for the 153rd district. Regardless of all of these credentials, he was more than willing to answer a few questions.

What role do you see yourself playing in the regional or statewide political scene?

I am still very interested in public policy and politics and intend to stay actively involved. There is a large role to play for progressive Democrats in suburban, regional and state politics. Among other things, we Democrats need to reclaim the mantle of reform and must propose constructive changes in campaign finances, ethics, government contracting and legislative practices. I would like to empower Pennsylvanians with the powers of initiative and referendum.

Are there any congressional votes that you now regret?

Just one -- the vote to authorize the war in Iraq. I knew that in the 1980s Hussein had used chemical weapons against innocent civilians, and I was convinced in 2002 that it was necessary to disarm Hussein of WMD. I preferred diplomacy and multilateral action, but I was convinced we had to act. I am now convinced we were lied to by Bush and his administration. If I knew then what I know now, I would have voted no.

Your district was re-drawn significantly before the 2002 race and you were pitted against fellow Democratic congressman Bob Borski who decided not to run. What can we do to keep the shape of districts from being used politically?

We must depoliticize redistricting in Pennsylvania. The 2001 congressional redistricting was a disgrace. Many states use bipartisan processes and non-partisan commissions to limit the raw partisanship that we see in Pennsylvania. If such reform cannot or will not be enacted by the legislature, we ought to consider convening a state constitutional convention to reform redistricting and do some other progressive things, like replacing the flat state income tax with a fairer graduated system, establishing initiative and referendum, etc.

You’ve had your own website/blog, for about 6 months now, what has that experience been like? Is it what you expected?

It is a lot of work.

As someone who has held office at the state, county, and federal level, what is one change you would make to the electoral or campaign process, if you had the power to do so?

We must figure out how to reduce the cost of elections, by providing some free or reduced rate access to TV, radio and mail, as well as institute some public financing of campaigns.

If you were king or queen maker in 2008 what would you have the Democratic presidential nominee do or what message would you have them deliver, to do the most to ensure victory?

Telling the truth (about the state of the Union, policy positions, tough steps that must be taken) is fundamentally important, but "feeling their pain" is equally important. We need a presidential candidate who connects with people, as Bill Clinton did.

What strategy do you think the Republican nominee will take and will it be successful?

He will lie, about balancing the budget, the terror threat and his moral values.

Thanks, Joe!


Franny Ward said...

"Just one -- the vote to authorize the war in Iraq. I knew that in the 1980s Hussein had used chemical weapons against innocent civilians, and I was convinced in 2002 that it was necessary to disarm Hussein of WMD."

Of course he did. So did many others. America supplied Saddam with these weapons to use against Iran and the Soviet threat in Afghanistan. Remember that picture of Rummy?

Anonymous said...

I'm curious as to Joe's definition of the term "progressive" as there is so much debate over what exactly that means. It's so subjective. His "progressive" candidate is not necessarily mine, nor yours, nor someone else's. But everyone uses that term, myself included.

Anonymous said...

woops, i also meant to say, wonderful interview! and glad to see joe taking a little break from all that pesky lawyering to chat!