Thursday, July 31, 2014

Identity Politics Rearing Its Ugly Head Again-- In Hawaii, Michigan And California


This week, EMILY's List dropped a last minute $17,441 into an independent expenditure for the extremely conservative candidate they're supporting in Honolulu, Donna Mercado Kim. Many elderly ladies who remember when EMILY's List was founded by Ellen Malcolm 30 years ago don't realize EMILY's List has swung from being a basically progressive organization to being one of the most conservative and untrustworthy elements in the Democratic coalition. "We don't care about anything except electing pro-choice women to office," they use as their excuse for backing absolutely horrible conservatives most of the time-- even when their conservative candidate, like Kim, isn't even really pro-Choice. It's identity politics at its ugliest. EMILY's List is backing Kim because Kim is a woman. Other candidates in the race are much more pro-choice than Kim but… well, that's EMILY's List 2014. Maybe EMILY's List should have consulted with the Patsy T. Mink PAC, which is Hawaii's progressive version of EMILY's List. They have never once endorsed the conservative Donna Kim in her 30 years of politics. There's a reason for that.

Last week we looked at how progressive Congressman Mark Takano threw his progressive cred to the winds, lied to the Congressional Progressive Caucus that another conservative, Mark Takai is somehow not a conservative despite a record that proves he is, and tricked them into backing someone based on an ethnic kinship-- Takai and Takano both being Japanese-American. More ugly identity politics.

Today I got a letter from a former Blue America-endorsed Michigan congressional candidate, Syed Taj, from the 11th district. He's a Muslim and last cycle when he could have beaten insane teabagger Kerry Bentovolio, except that anti-Muslim sleaze bag Steve Israel refused to allow the DCCC to help him. So he lost. This year, Israel is trying to insert some ex-CIA agent, Bobby MacKenzie, as the Democratic nominee. Dr. Taj's letter this morning urged me to support another MD, Anil Kumar. I spoke with Kumar a few months ago. He seemed like a nice enough man but, unlike Taj, there was absolutely nothing about him that qualified him for public office, especially not as a Democrat. He and Taj, though, have some identity politics between them.

But the one that really took the cake for identity politics this week wasn't religious, or gender-oriented or ethnic. It was mayoral-- the very conservative, fake-Democratic mayor of San Jose, Chuck Reed, endorsing the Republican mayor of Fresno, Ashley Swearengin, for state Comptroller against a superbly qualified Democrat, Betty Yee. "Ashley Swearengin and I have worked together as part of the Big Ten Mayors, a bipartisan group organized to focus on statewide issues impacting our residents and taxpayers," said Reed. Swearengin’s "focus is not on partisan politics, but rather on getting the job done right. I’m proud to support her."
Reed’s decision to give the cold shoulder to Betty Yee, the state Board of Equalization member who is the Democrats’ choice in the Nov. 4 race, shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Reed, who has always been well out on the conservative edge of the Democratic Party, is termed out of office this year and has even less reason now to go blue.

Even before Reed was elected in a landslide back in 2006, local Democrats grumbled that the Air Force veteran and land-use attorney was way too conservative for the South Bay. But with San Jose on the brink of financial disaster, voters liked his tough stand on public spending and re-elected him with 77 percent of the vote in 2010.

But when Reed persuaded San Jose voters in 2012 to pass Measure B, which called for city workers to pay more into their pension fund and required a citywide vote before retirement benefits could be increased, labor unions howled and filed lawsuits that are still making their way through the courts. And when Reed pushed for a statewide initiative allowing cities and other government agencies to cut future pensions in a fiscal emergency, Democratic leaders joined their labor allies in loud opposition.

Reed ended up suing Democratic state Attorney General Kamala Harris for what he claimed was a biased title and summary of the initiative written by her office. After losing the court battle, he dropped efforts to put the measure on the 2014 ballot.

Reed said the pension reform was desperately needed because “skyrocketing retirement costs are crowding out funding for essential public services and pushing cities, counties and other government agencies closer to insolvency.” There’s little love lost between the San Jose mayor and the Democratic Party leaders who joined with labor to help quash the measure.

That partisan attack left a mark, as Reed made clear in his pointed endorsement of Swearengin.

The Fresno Republican has “demonstrated the leadership and determination that we need to reform government and improve efficiency, without regard for party labels,” Reed said in his statement.
At least this seems to be based on politics and issues-- albeit from a decidedly right-wing, anti-family prospect that Reed and Swearengin share. I respect that, as much as I disagree with it, much more than picking people based on factors that having nothing to do with policy, the way Takano, Taj and EMILY's List did. Obviously, I still hope Swearengin loses and have every intention of voting for Betty Yee, a far better choice.

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At 6:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For what it is worth, Mayor Reed is the rare Democrat who understands that the existing pension system will not survive. His efforts at preserving pensions for the future, should be praised, not criticized.

At 7:46 PM, Blogger Dennis Jernberg said...

I haven't been a fan of identity politics for a long time. In fact, I'm convinced it's conservative in and of itself. After all, aren't most right-wingers utterly devoted to identity politics? This shilling of Blue Dog conservatives, based solely on identity politics, only proves my point.


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