A Fork In The Road For Grassroots Progressives
Matt Cartwright moved the grassroots progressive agenda forward yesterday
Hillary won all 5 states last Tuesday, although, it's still really too close to call in Missouri, 310.602 to 309,071, a bit over 1,500 votes separating them. Each has been awarded 32 delegates. Illinois was also close... 68 delegates for Hillary and 67 delegates for Bernie. Even Ohio, which was a much bigger win for her, the delegate count was 79 for the establishment and 62 for Bernie. The two Confederate states, of course, were much more strongly in Clinton territory. Although Bernie won most of the western counties, he only took 45 delegates to her 59. Florida was a wipeout-- 133 delegates for Clinton and 65 for Bernie.
There were also down-ticket congressional primaries in Ohio and Illinois. The establishment backed the more conservative candidates in every instance and the conservative candidates, each one better financed, of course, were all winners-- although in non-congressional races in both states, grassroots activism actually triumphed in some pretty significant races in each state. Still, a bad night for the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. Even before that Obama had been telling donors that it was time for Bernie to give up-- even as he acknowledged to the Texas fat-cats he was talking to that Clinton's weakness as a candidate stems from the perception that she's inauthentic. Although Obama was careful not to endorse Hillary over Bernie, he has an exceptionally bad history of endorsing particularly bad candidates in primaries who go on to oppose everything he says he stands for. People who don't get all their info from TV news or Hillary campaign e-mails, are well aware Bernie still has a pathway to victory.
This week, Ryan Cooper asked "with a triangulating neoliberal as the likely Democratic nominee, and a crypto-fascist as the Republican one, where are Sanders supporters to turn?" He's talking about the Democrats and independents that have bought into-- and are part of-- Bernie's political revolution. Presumably, most of the Democrats will go for the triangulating neoliberal lesser-of-two-evils candidate. Polling indicates independents may not. Cooper suggests looking into those non-congressional down-ballot races I referred to above to get a hint as to what might be going on in the heads of Bernie's forces. [Look, even if Rahm and the notoriously corrupt Cook County Machine didn't steal the election for her--absurd, but humor me-- the totals were still pretty close. The official tally in Cook County was 53.6% for Hillary and 45.6% for Bernie. Statewide the difference wasn't gaping-- 1,007,383 (50.5%) for her and 971,555 (48.7%) for him.] Cooper:
One answer came from a much lower-profile race in Cook County, Illinois. The incumbent state's attorney, Anita Alvarez, was obliterated by challenger Kim Foxx by nearly 30 percentage points. Alvarez became infamous for failing to file charges for 400 days against the Chicago police officer who gunned down Laquan McDonald, a black Chicago teenager, and only after a journalist forced the release of damning dashcam footage. This was only one of 68 other instances Alvarez had declined to file charges against police for killing people.Yesterday one of the most corrupt Beltway tools of the Wall Street elites, Patrick Murphy, announced a gaggle of congressional supporters. Most of them were just the kind of garbage members of Congress you would expect-- grossly corrupt conservatives like himself, from Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), Steve Israel ("ex"-Blue Dog-NY), John Delaney (New Dem-MD), Denny Heck (New Dem (WA) and Jim Himes (New Dem-CT), to Kathleen Rice (New Dem-NY), Ann Kuster (New Dem-NH), Filemon Vela (ex-Republican New Dem-TX), Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL), Joe Crowley (former head New Dem-NY) and Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY). These are the people Murphy consistently skips across the aisle with to vote for the Republican anti-family agenda-- the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, Blue Dogs and New Dems, although on his website he doesn't identify any of them as Blue Dogs or New Dems. Arizona reactionary Kyrsten Sinema, for example, is in both the New Dem and the Blue Dog caucuses but Murphy only identifies her as co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. Juan Vargas, another New Dem, is characterized only as being a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. On the other hand, when he managed to snag a handful of the slimier members of the Progressive Caucus, he trumpeted their CPC membership. Andre Carson (IN) and Don Beyer (VA), for example, are both New Dems and vote with the New Dems against working families but managed to join the CPC as well and are identified by Murphy as CPC members but not as New Dems. I wonder who he thinks he's fooling.
Timothy McGinty, the prosecutor who did not indict the policeman who killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio, also went down to defeat.
Activist pressure has already forced Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to fire the police superintendent in a desperate effort to keep his own position, but he is likely the next target. Even if he manages to cling to power for the rest of his term, his political career is likely over.
These results illustrate a key fact about American politics: The further down the political ladder you go, the easier it is to cause change. Five thousand committed activists can't swing a presidential primary, but they can completely overturn the politics of a medium-sized county. Most people don't even know who their state-level representatives are, and a great many of them run unopposed.
This suggests a clear path for Sanders and his supporters to take. Once the primary is settled one way or the other, and he's leveraged his delegate haul to push the party platform in a good direction, he can turn down-ballot. He can direct his astonishingly voluminous money spigot toward lower-profile Democrats and leftists who need just a little cash to be able to compete. National politics gets the vast bulk of public and media attention, but Sanders could turn that to his movement's advantage by leveraging his sudden high profile.
That means national-level races to help take the Senate and at least contest the House, but it also means literally thousands of state and local races that should be fought wherever possible. Prosecutors are virtually never challenged, and it is a certainty that Alvarez and McGinty aren't the only ones who deserve to be toppled.
Sanders could start with this simple phone app listing all of the nearly 520,000 elected offices in the United States, plus all the legal and technical hurdles for contesting each one. Making it simple to figure out the convoluted and redundant structure of American politics would probably go no small distance towards making it easier for people to enter politics.
Above all, the general point is that leftists should continue to participate in politics writ large. My great fear is that Sanders supporters (who are disproportionately young or new to politics), having tasted the hope of defeating Clinton, will now abandon politics and political organizing in disappointment. But it was never going to be as easy as simply knocking off the Democratic favorite in a primary. There were 100 more hurdles between President Sanders and a decent social democratic America. As Tony Benn once said, "There is no destination called justice or democracy and if you catch a train driven by the right man you'll get there."
So as I've argued before, don't listen to the Democratic partisans urging abject fealty to the party. It is a vehicle for good policy, not a church. It should be supported insofar as it is tactically useful. But don't despair, and keep on voting for somebody.
But the point I'm making isn't that Los Angeles Murphy-endorser Janice Hahn, for example, is a pathetic hack with no values other than self-promotion but that the progressive infrastructure is so dysfunctional that it is in the way of any kind of grassroots progressive movement, not a part of it, let alone a leader of it. Almost all the members of the CPC actually endorsed Hillary Clinton-- the Wall Street-owned establishment candidate of the status quo-- instead of Bernie, member of the CPC and, in fact, the founder of the CPC. Thursday the CPC refused to endorse Donna Edwards, a member for the Senate and one of the more disreputable members actually used the argument, "he's too liberal," against several candidates who came before the endorsement committee, none of whom were endorsed. Is it wrong to look to DC for political leadership? Are you joking? I trust these people: