Stalinism Inside The DCCC-- Beware The Red To Blue Program
The DCCC's hopelessly corrupt and widely discredited Red to Blue Program, co-chaired by the ambitious and venal Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL), who is working vigorously for the re-election of far right Republican fanatics in South Florida, has declared for 45 candidates so far in this cycle. Very few grassroots donors give to this project but it is a veritable stamp of approval for wealthy and institutional Democrats who don't pay much attention. Savvy activists learned long ago that the DCCC is entirely untrustworthy and that many of their hand-picked candidates are the mirror image of brainwashed or brain-dead Republican rubber stamps and that, in fact, way too many support Republican principles and values.
Typically, the DCCC advises Democratic candidates to disguise their stances on controversial issues that separate the two parties. With ABC News reporting today that the lines are starting to blur between which party is pro-choice and which party is anti-choice, socially conservative candidates are meticulous in hiding their anti-choice and their homophobic manias from voters. There will always be one or two like Chris Carney (PA) who will actually lie about it when asked, but most just refuse to discuss it. Take a look at "courageous" Ohio Democrat John Boccieri tap dancing around these two issues.
Last year many of the Red to Blue candidates got into Congress and immediately started voting like Republicans-- but just on crucial issues like the war in Iraq, warrantless wiretaps, immigration reform, trade policies... If you don't pick and choose your own candidates and you instead just give blindly to DCCC Red to Blue candidates you will have donated to candidates who are social conservatives and who will oppose women's right to choice and not fight for equality for gay men and women (like, for example, current reactionary Democrats on this endorsement list Don Cravins, Paul Carmouche, Steve Driehaus, Bobby Bright, John Boccieri, and Kathy Dahlkemper, who are, essentially just like John McCain when it comes to social issues). Although they try keeping it on the down low, several on the Red to Blue list are pro-war and some are corporate-leaning shills. It's never about Democratic ideal, values, principles... it's always getting as many members willing to call themselves "Democrats," for whatever reason, into Congress. That's how Democrats wind up in the majority in the House and can't get anything accomplished.
There were 17 Democrats who voted more frequently with Republicans than with Democrats on the key substantive issues that divide the two parties. Of the 17, nine are freshmen. They are, from bad to worse, Don Cazayoux (LA), Zach Space (OH), Harry Mitchell (AZ), Travis Childers (MS), Chris Carney (PA), Heath Shuler (NC), Jason Altmire (PA), Brad Ellsworth (IN), Joe Donnelly (IN), and-- with a ProgressivePunch score of 28.91 out of 100, Nick Lampson (TX). Further, 2006 Red to Blue candidates Tim Mahoney (FL) and Gabby Giffords (AZ) voted with Republicans as much as they voted with Democrats on these substantive matters. Last year if you donated to the DCCC's Red to Blue program, you helped elect people who are determined to keep the war in Iraq going, who voted to allow warrantless wiretaps, and who were willing to rubber stamp Bush trade policies that throw American workers out of their jobs... and who actually applaud Nancy Pelosi's decision to take impeachment off the table. In fact, they are a big part of the reason why Nancy Pelosi did take impeachment off the table.
That said, quite a few Red to Blue candidates this year happen to be absolutely outstanding, such as Darcy Burner (D-WA), Vic Wulsin (D-OH), Joe Garcia (D-FL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Larry Kissell (D-NC), Tom Perriello (D-VA), Eric Massa (D-NY), Judy Feder (D-VA), Bob Lord (D-AZ), Linda Stender (D-NJ), Gary Trauner (D-WY), Mark Schauer (D-MI), Jim Himes (D-CT), Judy Baker (D-MO), Charlie Brown (D-CA), Ashwin Madia (D-MN), John Adler (D-NJ), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Dan Maffei (D-NY), Dan Seals (D-IL), Jon Powers (D-NY).
But what I want to look at today isn't who is good and who is bad but at the candidates who have already been endorsed by the DCCC but who are still in the midst of hotly contested primaries: Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Jon Powers (D-NY), Michael McMahon (D-NY), Ethan Berkowitz (D-AK), and Suzanne Kosmas (FL). The Chris Van Hollen first took over the chair of the DCCC from Stalinist Rahm Emanuel he promised-- in accord with democratic norms and Party rules-- to allow hotly contested primaries to play themselves out and not take sides the way Emanuel had done. Emanuel, you may recall, backed reactionary Establishment candidates in tough primaries against dozens of progressive and grassroots Democrats. In some cases his shills won and we wound up with pseudo-Democrats who vote with the GOP, like Tim Mahoney in Florida, or with a victorious Republican, like Vern Buchanan, who was able to beat a weak, vacillating me-too-Democratic who stood for nothing. In other cases the grassroots beat back Emanuel's anti-democratic strategy and that is why we now have progressives in Congress like John Hall (D-NY), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), and Jerry McNerney (D-CA). Van Hollen promised to not follow the Stalinist path Emanuel had lain out. But he has.
4 of the 5 endorsed candidates still contesting primaries are conservative, Establishment hacks fighting progressives. The DCCC's strategy of funneling money and the sense of inevitability into the candidacies of the conservatives makes it extremely difficult for the grassroots candidates to tap into traditional sources of Democratic funding. Even unions-- and not just notorious Democratic Party lap dogs like AFSCME-- often succumb to DCCC pressure to support candidates whose election is not in the best interest of progressive goals.
Recently I saw Ann Kirkpatrick speak at a Red to Blue event. My heart sank. With an outstanding, brilliant and articulate candidate like Howard Shanker in the race, the DCCC is backing a card board cutout of a candidate who stands for nothing whatsoever and is as inspiring as a potato. Better than the neo-fascist Republican running in AZ-01 (Sydney Hay)? Yes, but a C is always better than an F. What about going for an A+? Standing in front of an audience of Democrats Kirkpatrick was unable to make the case of why anyone should even bother to go out and vote. The Republican brand is so damaged in AZ-01, after the indictment of Congressman Rick Renzi, that it will be hard for the Democrats to lose the election. But if anyone can do it, it is Ann Kirkpatrick. The primary is on September 2.
Michael McMahon is so reactionary that his races for New York City Council have been endorsed by the Conservative Party-- which is to the right of the Republican Party. The Staten Island Conservative Party was about to endorse him for Congress-- they love his pro-war approach to Iraq-- when the state party jumped in and forced them to toe the line and endorse whichever Republican was the nominee that particular week. Steve Harrison is a far better choice and an actual progressive. It is unconscionable for the DCCC to try to swing the primary to someone who, of he is elected, will oppose Democratic Party positions for as long as he's in Congress. The primary is on September 9.
Similarly, in Florida's 24th CD Clint Curtis is the grassroots candidate; and the DCCC shill, Suzanne Kosmas, is just some rich person who promises to be easily led around by the nose. In Alaska Ethan Berkowitz is the Rahm Emanuel establishment candidate who is running against a grassroots independent-minded progressive, Diane Benson.
The one case where the DCCC did the right thing was in NY-26, where they added Jon Powers to their list in order to forestall another disaster with disgruntled and crazy ex-Republican Jack Davis-- who switched parties and vowed vengeance when Cheney refused to shake hands with him after he gave the GOP a pile of money. Davis is spending millions of his own dollars to try to buy the seat-- even bribing third party officials to try to guarantee himself a place on the ballot after Powers kicks his reactionary ass in the September 9 primary.
If you're in the mood for helping battle this DCCC Stalinism, please consider donating to Howard Shanker today. He can win his September 2nd primary if he has the resources he needs to get out his message. In fact, everyone who donates at least $30 to Howard's campaign today at the Blue America ActBlue page will get a free copy of the book 50 Simple Things You Can Do To Fight The Right.