Thursday, June 02, 2016

Beltway Media Hack Wants To Tell Progressives Who Their Next Leaders Shall Be


I've been mulling Amber Phillips' Washington Post piece about who the next generation of progressive leaders will be post-Bernie/Elizabeth Warren. I'm guessing it can be blamed on the lowering of pay-- and standards-- for editors that a dullard like Phillips is encouraged to write this kind of drivel that winds up being published. As I remarked the first time I realized she's one of the truly awful Beltway pseudo-journalists, "Amber, like Rev. Lovejoy of The Simpsons, graduated from Texas Christian University and maybe they have a different worldview than normal people. "Eventually," she blathered, "progressives are going to want a new leader to carry forward the momentum created in recent months and years by Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). They haven't found that person yet. And indeed, there's no one person the progressive community can collectively point to and definitively agree is the next Sanders or Warren." I'd be surprised if Phillips-- like most Americans-- had even heard of Bernie Sanders before he announced he was running for president. She points out they're both old and the progressive movement is filled with young-uns. In a pale of imitation of journalism she writes she "spoke with a half-dozen people involved in various ways and levels of the progressive movement to get their thoughts on who might be their next national leader-- or one of several leaders... [I]t's perhaps more instructive to start by listing the qualities progressives want to see in their next leader. Consider this a kind of job description from the progressive community:
Someone outside the establishment (and preferably Washington altogether): "People who have a real and deep organic connection to the voting base and are less worried about the donor class," said Daniel Cantor, the national director of the Working Families Party.

Someone willing to stick it to the establishment: "One of the ways you demonstrate real leadership in the progressive movement is a willingness to confront power," like Wall Street, yes, says Neil Sroka, the communications director for the Howard Dean-aligned Democracy for America, "but also leaders in your own party when necessary."

Someone with a diverse background: Or at least an understanding of various diverse backgrounds. Women and people of color are pluses.

Someone who has a following already: It doesn't have to be Bernie Sanders big, but it does need to be someone who has proven s/he can rev up a crowd. "They become a pulled attraction," said RoseAnn DeMoro, director of National Nurses United, which was one of the first unions to endorse Sanders. DeMoro even threw out movie stars/Sanders supporters like Rosario Dawson and Mark Ruffalo as possibilities.
It's perhaps just as instructive to understand some of the qualities progressives are NOT necessarily requiring in their next leader:
Someone who lines up perfectly on the ideological spectrum with Sanders and Warren: It's okay if the next leader is a little to the left of them, some said. And others said it'd be okay-- even ideal-- if the next leader was a little more centrist. But nearly everyone indicated that a politician's ability to draw attention to the issues-- and then govern on them-- matters more than the specific individual's beliefs. Plus, the progressive movement needs a larger bench, and when you expand outward, you naturally get different viewpoints.

Just one leader: Yes, movements need leaders. But there doesn't have to be just one, nor does someone have to be stage left the second Sanders and Warren step off the stage. DeMoro of National Nurses United said: "If Bernie fell in line behind Clinton tomorrow, the movement continues."
And then she lists the potential leaders. Great start: Washington state Senator Pramila Jayapal, a dream leadership candidate for sure if, as is likely, she gets into Congress. The next possibility is just as spot-on: Nina Turner, a much-admired, much-respected former Ohio state Senator. Then a sour bump in the road: Kamala Harris. Um... progressive? What does progressive mean? If it means more than an establishment garden variety Democrat, Kamala Harris doesn't fit. Yes, she's better than her right-wing Blue Dog opponent, Loretta Sanchez, but she hasn't even proven herself enough yet for any self-respecting progressive to even vote for her, let alone to follow her. And next is even worse: Tulsi Gabbard, a next-to-worthless conservative Democrat, probably homophobic, who had an affair with that vile Republican Mafia guy, "Mikey Suits" Grimm before he went to prison. Yes, she endorsed Bernie and sent plenty of shade Wasserman Schultz's way, but something tells me no one taught little Amber how to look at a congressmember's voting record. It's lovely she's a Hindu and a Samoan, but Mark Pocan has the single best voting record in Congress (and he's from the LGBT community). He's #1 with a 98.85% score and Tulsi is the #143rd "most progressive" member of Congress with a ghastly 73.56 score, almost identical with the head of the New Dems, Ron Kind, with whom she almost always votes. Steve Israel, Steny Hoyer and even Loretta Sanchez have better voting records-- as do over a dozen New Dems. Too abstract for Amber Phillips, whose understanding of progressivism doesn't go beyond identity politics?

Lucy Flores is Amber's next "leader," except she didn't do a damn thing when she was in the Nevada legislature other than make one inspiring speech, and then-- somewhat opportunistically-- attached herself to Bernie's campaign and suddenly... she's a potential leader of the national progressive movement? One of her congressional opponents-- a Hillary backer, Ruben Kihuen-- has a far better record as a genuine tribune of Nevada working families and will probably win the primary and beat Republican Cresent Hardy. Somehow Amber stumbled into another reasonable choice to end her list: Zephyr Teachout, the real thing, although I would bet Amber wouldn't know the difference between a Zephyr and a Tulsi if her miserable career depended on it-- which it doesn't, of course-- nor why one would be a reasonable bet for national leadership and one... is completely improbable.

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At 3:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once made the mistake of reading an Amber Phillips column the whole way through. I was aghast.

At 7:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point about the dullard Phillips not knowing the difference between progressivism and strictly identity politics. I wonder who her 'sources' were. Some were obviously as clueless as her.


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