Monday, May 15, 2017

Paula Jean Swearengin Seems Like A Pretty Ideal Senate Candidate, Right?

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There's a fantastic candidate running for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia: Berniecrat Paula Jean Swearengin. And she's running against the worst Democrat in the Senate, Joe Manchin. Under normal circumstances, we'd be urging everyone to get on board the Swearengin train immediately. Normal circumstances? Remember them? That was before we wound up with that mentally-ill, orange-hued baboon in the White House.

First a little something about Paula Jean and then I'll come back to our dilemma. Her father, her step-father, her uncles and her grandfather were all coal miners, not coal mine owners. "As a little girl," she wrote, "I was proud of my coal heritage. I was proud to know that America was built on the backs of West Virginians and by families like mine. But times have changed, and now my eyes are open. For far too long, West Virginia has been told we need to choose between clean water and jobs-- I'm here to put an end to that myth." This is from a letter she wrote to voters in West Virginia this weekend:
My state can’t afford six more years of the rudderless leadership Senator Manchin is providing. His cozy relationship with mining bosses and corporations is going to lead to more suffering like my family has endured. It will lead to more grandfathers lost to black lung, more uncles with heart disease, more children struggling with cancer-- and no access to health care. Senator Manchin lacks the vision to see the coal industry is dying. It’s time to invest in new industries with clean, safe jobs for all.

From Tennessee through West Virginia and all the way to Pennsylvania Appalachia is struggling, and leaders like Joe Manchin are content to stand idly by while the jobs dry up, leaving whole towns in the dust.

These last few months I found myself wondering: Why is Joe Manchin cozying up to the people trying to gut Medicaid coverage for his state instead of fighting to make sure coal miners don’t lose their health care? I bet the answer lies in over $330,000 he got from drug makers and insurance companies.

Well I’m not like Joe. I can’t turn a blind eye to the stagnation in our state and I can’t be bought. I’ll push for investments in infrastructure and new energy-- industries that bring in good jobs and fair wages. I will fight against Trumpcare because I won’t allow our people fall through the cracks of America’s broken health care system. I will fight for Medicare for All. I want the people of West Virginia to have the future we deserve. The future we’ve paid for with generations of hard work and sacrifice.

I tried to work with Senator Manchin as a concerned citizen. I wrote, I called, I went to his town halls. A lot of us did, but he blew us off.

I got tired of our concerns being ignored, and I decided it’s time to stop playing by their rules. It’s time to change the game. I’m running for Senate to do something Manchin won’t-- represent you. I believe in West Virginia and I think it’s worth investing in.

...When I confronted my legislators at town halls for being on the take from coal companies instead of investing in new industries that could provide better, safer jobs, I received death threats from folks who the coal companies had spread their lies and propaganda to. But they found out that Appalachian women don’t scare so easily. If you help me get elected, I will never back down from anyone in power-- I will take your fight to them.

I believe in a West Virginia where good jobs don’t have to come at the cost of clean water. I know Appalachians are determined, hard working and smart. And when we band together, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish. I’m ready to stand up for you and your family to deliver the prosperous, healthy future we all deserve.
I haven't spoken with her but she sure sounds awesome-- and we know what a villain Manchin has been. So let me lay out the problem we're trying to cope with. Given: Manchin is horrible. But he can-- and most likely will-- win reelection in the general. Even in the unlikely event that Swearengin were to beat Manchin in a high-consciousness primary, she'd probably be devoured by a Republican, something that Blue America would normally not shy away from. Remember Chris Carney? We knew if he lost, he'd be replaced by a Republican-- which is what happened-- but we were happy to help defeat him and get his reactionary, bigoted Blue Dog ass out of the congressional Democratic caucus where all he ever did was vote with the GOP anyway. But now there's the very real and very existential threats posed by Trump hanging over us like The Sword of Damocles. Imagine the Democrats win back the House AND don't lose any of their other vulnerable Senate seats. AND imagine they defeat Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Dean Heller (R-NV) ... AND Ted Cruz (R-TX). That would mean Trump would be impeached and convicted UNLESS the Democrats lose West Virginia. So I'm thinking about what's the right thing to do with Swearengin. I've been losing sleep over it.

Goal Thermometer We've been discussing this at Blue America. The consensus seems to be that this is one midterm to lay out of a primary like this, this meaning one where the constituency isn't blue enough where holding the seat would be guaranteed. The thermometer on the right, for example, will take you to a page where progressives are challenging reactionary Democrats who have earned primaries-- but in districts that Democrats will hold no matter who the candidate is. Please take a look. None of us likes Manchin's politics or what he stands for and normally we would be eager to help wound him. But... we don't want to lose this seat and we don't want to give Manchin more reasons to side with Trump on anything.

The chance that the Republicans in Congress will do anything is a real long shot-- remote is a euphemism-- and clearly the Department of Justice, as Digby put it so eloquently, "might as well be working out of the White House."  The 2018 midterms may be our only chance to stop Trump and if we don't... who knows what will happen!

Some of us feel that all internecine Senate battles come down to one overriding question only-- at least until the next election: pushing the Democratic Party to obstruct Trump. We'll continue criticizing any Democrat who works with him but beyond that many of us feel that our complaints against senators and Democrats in swing House districts are on hold until November 2018. After that, all bets are off. We are feel that building grassroots energy is important. But unless Trump is stopped we're seriously not sure we'll have normal elections in the future... so it won't really matter. Meanwhile, I suggest channeling your antipathy towards the Republican wing of the Democratic Party towards culprits in blue districts like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Kyrsten Sinema and Dan Lipinski... for now.



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8 Comments:

At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, I suggest channeling your antipathy towards the Republican wing of the Democratic Party towards culprits in blue districts like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Kyrsten Sinema and Dan Lipinski... for now.

And which wing does Senator Manchin belong to?

 
At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And which wing does Senator Manchin belong to?"

Is there a wing named "Whore of Babylon"?

 
At 3:37 PM, Anonymous wjbill said...

Tough situation. Not sure pulling punches is right but I see your point also. Then there is that .... can Manchin be counted on for the construct you made? I would not trust him at all! But what do I know?

 
At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, until the democrap party is dead and gone, there can be no meaningful change.

No matter how many good people can unseat the money's whores, there will never be enough of them to revolutionize the party all the way to the top. The very best you can hope for is a period of stasis where the worst doesn't continue to degrade.

But after a cycle of betrayals, lefty voters get pissed and stay home (see: 2010).

No lasting nor meaningful change will ever occur until the political left actually represents the left. That means killing forever the democrap party.

 
At 7:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure what the end goal is for impeaching Trump. We then get President Pence. He gets his own honeymoon period and goes into 2020 with both GOP establishment and Tea Party bona fides, while getting the PR boon of any likely establishment Democratic stupidity while controlling Congress.

I doubt Trump can wrought any more pain than Pence could with Democrats controlling both houses. If Trump tries to start a war, then you impeach. But if the Democrats win back the House, a compromised and isolated Trump for 2 years is better than a potentially rejuvenated GOP establishment under Pence.

 
At 8:33 PM, Blogger lukeness said...

I think there's a mistake in your calculation here. The constitution requires a 2/3 vote of the Senate to convicted an impeached person (Article 1, Section 3). So 48, 49, 51, or even 60 votes won't matter. It'd have to be 67, if there were 100 Senators present.

 
At 7:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lukeness, good point. Best case is 35 R senators are sufficiently disgusted and all Ds stay away.

No chance of that.

And if there is no chance of conviction, the house would never impeach... unless it was a democrap prez.

Still, the trial would be entertaining... if the house actually tried. I'm sure there is plenty of proof to present.

 
At 4:30 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

The average Republican voter is more progressive than people think. If you poll people issue by issue, a majority of Republicans support increasing the minimum wage, support single payer healthcare/expanding medicare. Paula's platform is popular with normal people. WEst Virginia has never been given the option of a populist, so how do you know she would just outright to a Republican? Besides, running corporate democrats against Republicans doesn't work out. Look at what happened to Alison Lundergan Grimes. If that's not enough, HRC lost to Trump.

Also, look at the number of Republican votes Bernie gets in his home state. Voters can tell if a candidate is running to help people or enrich themselves. Popular policies and genuine candidates is what makes people cross party lines.

Manchin is basically a Republican anyways. If he votes with them 95% who cares if a Republican replaces him.

 

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