That Whole Battle For The Soul Of The Democratic Party Thing-- Plus: Lipinski Gets A Challenger
Do you get excited that Trump's approval ratings keep sinking and sinking in most polls? How about how much Americans dislike the congressional Republicans? Nice, huh? But, you realize, of course, that those same Americans rate the congressional Democrats almost as badly. Sometimes just 1 point better. The Democrats seem to revel in the idea of being the lesser of two evils and even seeing how far they can push the "evil" thing without being seen as worse-- or even just as bad-- as the Republicans. How lucky they are that the Republicans are actually existentially bad. And that's bad. They can choke on it; they deserve it.
But what about the Democrats? Here we get into a little problem. Are "the Democrats" Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rahm Emanuel, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Jim Himes, Joe Crowley, the Clintons, the Blue Dogs, the New Dems... the Wall Street Dems? Or are "the Democrats" Elizabeth Warren, Donna Edwards, Barbara Lee, Alan Grayson, Ted Lieu, and these people? And Bernie. Bernie's been smart enough to not even be a Democrat, just to assimilate with all that has made the Democratic Party the vehicle for working families and for peace on earth, while rejecting the corporatism, the corruption, the elitism, the careerism... all the garbage that today's Democratic Party has adopted and absorbed and become more and more defined by. Yesterday, Trevor Timm, writing for The Guardian reminded people why Bernie would have won if the corrupt corporatists didn't cheat their own widely hated candidate into the nomination. Short version: A new poll found Bernie's the most popular politician in America. But instead of embracing his message, establishment Democrats continue to resist him. The Fox poll showed American voters rating politicians like this-- most favorable first, least favorable last:
• Bernie- 61%Bernie's "net" rating is +29. The only other politicians with net favorable ratings are Elizabeth Warren (+8%) and Pence (+4). All the other politicians are in net negative territory: Trumpanzee is at -9%, Ryan at -10%, Pelosi at -17%, Schumer at -4% and Miss McConnell-- no one likes a congenitally deceitful closet case-- negative 24. Eek! He's almost as hated as Bernie is beloved!
• Mike Pence- 47%
• Trumpy-the-Clown- 44%
• Elizabeth Warren- 39%
• Paul Ryan- 37%
• Nancy Pelosi- 33%
• Chuck Schumer- 26%
• Miss McConnell- 20%
This poll is not just an aberration. Look at this Huffington Post chart that has tracked Sanders’s favorability rating over time, ever since he gained national prominence in 2015 when he started running for the Democratic nomination. The more people got to know him, they more they liked him-- the exact opposite of what his critics said would happen when he was running against Clinton.This manifests itself in many way. Timm talked about the DNC chair battle and the refusal of the party to take on the big corporate donors or the lobbyists, allowing the direction of the party to be set by special interests who don't have America's working families first and foremost in their minds. We see it every day when it come to DCCC candidate recruitment. They always seem to prefer "ex"-Republicans like Charlie Crist, Tom O'Halleran, Monica Vernon, Randy Perkins, Tim Mahoney, Mike Derrick... and conservative Democrats with Republican DNA-- i.e., the New Dems and Blue Dogs (the Republican wing of the Democratic Party).
One would think with numbers like that, Democratic politicians would be falling all over themselves to be associated with Sanders, especially considering the party as a whole is more unpopular than the Republicans and even Donald Trump right now. Yet instead of embracing his message, the establishment wing of the party continues to resist him at almost every turn, and they seem insistent that they don’t have to change their ways to gain back the support of huge swaths of the country.
Politico ran a story just this week featuring Democratic officials fretting over the fact that Sanders supporters may upend their efforts to retake governorships in Southern states by insisting those candidates adopt Sanders’ populist policies - seemingly oblivous to the fact that Sanders plays well in some of those states too.
Sanders’s effect on Trump voters can be seen in a gripping town hall this week that MSNBC’s Chris Hayes hosted with him in West Virginia - often referred to as “Trump Country”-- where the crowd ended up giving him a rousing ovation after he talked about healthcare being a right of all people and that we are the only industrialized nation in the world who doesn’t provide health care as a right to all its people.
But hand wringing by Democratic officials over 2018 candidates it’s really just the latest example: the establishment wing of the party aggressively ran another opponent against Keith Ellison, Sanders’s choice to run the Democratic National Committee, seemingly with the primary motivation to keep the party away from Sanders’s influence.
They’ve steadfastly refused to take giant corporations head on in the public sphere and wouldn’t even return to an Obama-era rule that banned lobbyist money from funding the DNC that was rescinded last year. And despite the broad popularity of the government guaranteeing health care for everyone, they still have not made any push for a Medicare-for-all plan that Sanders has long called for as a rebuttal to the Republican’s attempt to dismantle Obamacare.
Democrats seem more than happy to put all the blame of the 2016 election on a combination of Russia and James Comey and have engaged in almost zero introspection on the root causes of the larger reality: they are also out of power in not the presidency, but both also houses of Congress, governorships and state houses across the country as well.
As Politico reported on the Democrats’ post-Trump strategy in February “Democratic aides say they will eventually shift to a positive economic message that Rust Belt Democrats can run on.” However: “for now, aides say, the focus is on slaying the giant and proving to the voters who sent Trump into the White House why his policies will fail.”
In other words, they’re doubling down on the exact same failing strategy that Clinton used in the final months of the campaign. Sanders himself put it this way in his usual blunt style in an interview with New York Magazine this week when asked about whether the Democrats can adapt to the political reality said “there are some people in the Democratic Party who want to maintain the status quo. They would rather go down with the Titanic so long as they have first-class seats.”
In the long term, change may be coming for Democrats whether they like it or not. Sanders loyalists are quietly attempting to take over many local Democratic party positions around the country. While Ellison lost the race for the DNC chair, it was incredibly close-- closer than Sanders came to beating Clinton. And Sanders’s supporters are already organizing primary challenges to incumbent Democrats who aren’t sufficiently opposing Trump.
One thing’s for sure: Democrats who refuse to change do so at their peril.
Democrats should be overjoyed that a real, honest-to-goodness Democrat, Marie Newman, is getting ready to challenge a right-wing Tennessee Blue Dog, Dan Lipinski, who inherited his father's blue Chicago seat and masquerades as a Democrat-- except when it comes to voting on crucial issues. ProgressivePunch rates Lipinski an overall "F," but an especially low "F" because his district is so blue (D+5). IL-03 gave Obama wins over McCain (58-41%) and Romney (56-43%) and Trump did far worse there than either McCain or Romney. Hillary beat him 55.2% to 39.9%. The Republicans love Lipinski and didn't even bother fielding a candidate against him. The last serious challenge he had was... never.
The bungalow belt district has virtually no blacks (3.7% around the same as the Asian population). It's 62.4% white and 29.4% Latino. It includes a chunk of Chicago between McKinley Park and Armour Square, Bridgeport, Canaryville, swings down along a narrow corridor to Gage Park, Marquette Manor, then opens up into West Lawn, Midway Airport, Oak Lawn, Western Springs, Palos Hills, Orland Park and all the way west to Lockport and Crest Hill just north of Joliet.
Back to that ProgressivePunch "F" for a moment. Lipinski's lifetime crucial vote score is a reprehensible 57.84 and this year he's got a 9.09 so far, easily the worst of any Illinois Democrat and, in fact, only Kyrsten Sinema-- the Arizona ZERO girl-- has a worse voting record among Democrats. That 9.09 score is shared with ultra right-wing Democratic shiteaters Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX), Ami Bera (New Dem-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), John Katko (R-NY), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), John Faso (R-NY), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and-- drumroll-- Louie Louie Gohmert (R-TX). and 8 Republicans have flat out better voting records this term than Lipinski. So, like I said, shouldn't the House Dems be just delighted to be on the verge of possibly getting rid of this worthless sack of excrement? They're not. Marie Newman, isn't exactly being welcomed in Democratic circles, even if progressives are excited about her challenge to Lipinski. There are Indivisible groups in the Chicago area already making her election their cause.
In an interview, Newman makes it clear that she's going to run as a "real Democrat" of sorts-- my phrase, not hers-- against the more conservative Lipinski.Unfortunately, he's all too correct and if Pelosi does get involved it will be to bolster the execrable Lipinski, the same way she did-- unsuccessfully-- when Tim Holden (PA) and Al Wynn (MD) were challenged-- successfully-- by progressives Matt Cartwright and Donna Edwards. (By the way, a savvy operative friend of mine told me this is all a proxy war between the dark evil forces behind Emanuel and the dark evil forces behind the Daley Machine. Pick yer poison.
"People need to have someone who represents their values," says Newman, noting that Lipinski was the only Democratic congressman from Illinois to vote against the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare. "It's clear they feel Mr. Lipinski is out of touch."
Lipinski also has voted against family planning, women's health care and reproductive rights, she says, "ignores" small business, and routinely accepts campaign donations from PACs and lobbyists.
Newman, who lives in La Grange with her husband, Jim Newman, and her two children, has been involved in various social action groups, including one that opposes school bullying, which resulted in a book that she says is used in schools nationwide. She has also volunteered in the campaigns of Foster and U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, and presidential hopefuls Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Lipinski, in an interview, waved off the challenge, saying he's focused on things such as "jobs for the middle class. That was the message of the past election." While he did vote against Obamacare, he now wants to "fix, not repeal it."
Lipinski also has repeatedly voted against the election of Nancy Pelosi as House Democratic leader, and Pelosi has lots of ways to get involved, if she so chooses, particularly with fundraising. Lipinski's response: "I don't think Nancy Pelosi would get involved here. This is not a Nancy Pelosi San Francisco district."