Saturday, September 30, 2017

The GOP Civil War Is On-- What About A Much-Needed One Among Democrats?


Sinema-- This is how Upchuck Schumer defines "a Democrat"

There's no denying that Roy Moore is far less fit for office-- any office-- than even Trumpanzee. That said, I admire Republican Party insurgents for successfully derailing a swampy lobbyist who oozed his way into the Senate and represents, more than anything, the repulsive, soul-murdering corruption of the establishment. By defeating-- gloriously defeating-- Luther Strange (despite the blandishments of their beloved Trumpanzee), a right-wing populist base sent a chilling message to Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and their coteries of swamp creatures. This week every establishment Republican in Washington was shaking in his or her boots. More of them are contemplating early retirement. Not shaking: Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. They feel confident that populists on the left will do nothing of the kind.

Shouldn't Democrats be working furiously to end the vile political careers of Joe Manchin (WV), Joe Donnelly (IN), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Clare McCaskill (MO) and Jon Tester (MT)? Maybe... but that isn't really analogous. You may-- you should-- dislike those conservative Democrats but those are really red states:
West Virginia- R+19
Indiana- R+9
North Dakota- R+19
Missouri- R+9
Montana- R+11
That is tough territory. And although the anti-Trump/anti-GOP tsunami may be big enough to defeat Moore in December and replace him with Doug Jones... well, that would have to be the biggest tsunami in history. Alabama's PVI is R+14. So Bannon and Mercer and that crew weren't really taking that big of a gamble they would give away a red seat. In fact, every poll shows Moore winning. (Google Consumer Surveys: Moore- 58%, Jones- 42%; Opinion Savvy: Moore- 50%, Jones- 45%.) We'll get to situations that are analogous below, but first, let me share some typical Politico conventional Beltway "wisdom": Bernie backers give Dem incumbents a pass in 2018. Gabriel Debenedetti reassures Beltway Dems that they have nothing to fear. No Democratic civil war brewing anywhere.
“What Democrats right now care about more than anything is winning,” veteran Democratic pollster Jefrey Pollock said of divisive Democratic primaries. “I don’t think the ultra-progressives have abandoned their principles-- not at all-- but I think they looked at the challenge and said, ‘This is not the right place.’”

...[T]he relative peace on the left wasn’t preordained-- the divisiveness of last year’s presidential primary was widely expected to manifest again in 2018 statewide elections. Yet with next year’s Senate and gubernatorial races shaping up, it’s Democrats whose sighs of relief are echoing around the country.

Democrats have escaped the brunt of their own party’s populist fury largely because they’re heading into the midterms in a defensive crouch, with 10 of their incumbent senators on the ballot in states that voted for Donald Trump. So instead of going after their own senators, progressive activists are focused on gaining Republican-held seats in the House.

“There’s some reluctance to put a lot of time into [unseating Democrats], versus [building] a more progressive Congress overall,” said former Communications Workers of America union president Larry Cohen, a top Bernie Sanders advisor who now chairs the board of the Our Revolution political group that was spawned from the senator’s 2016 presidential campaign. “There’s going to be a lot more activity where it’s possible to change the makeup of the Congress.”

Not all statewide Democratic incumbents are home-free: Actress Cynthia Nixon has been encouraged to mount a long-shot challenge against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo from the left next year-- much like the one he fended off in 2014. Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee has suggested he may take on first-term Gov. Gina Raimondo, criticizing her for not being sufficiently progressive on an array of issues.

And in California, fourth-term Sen. Dianne Feinstein has faced fury from the left for not challenging Trump more aggressively. State Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León, who made the rounds in Washington this month, and liberal activist Joe Sanberg have gained notice as potential challengers... [L]liberal challenges to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill have so far failed to gain traction... [N]one of the many Democratic senators running in liberal states in 2018-- such as Delaware’s Tom Carper, Maryland’s Ben Cardin, Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar, Rhode Island’s Sheldon Whitehouse, or Washington’s Maria Cantwell-- have seen any reason to sweat their own positions.

...Still, messy Democratic primaries are still expected in several House districts where vulnerable Republicans are running for re-election. One conservative Democratic House member-- Illinois’ Dan Lipinski-- already faces a primary fight.

That’s reason enough for establishment-oriented and moderate Democrats to avoid complacency, insisted a handful of party operatives.
What Debenedetti missed are the two Senate primaries in the two states Democrats expect to flip from red to blue. Schumer and Van Hollen recruited 2 of the absolutely worst, most abysmal excuses for Democrats to run, grotesquely corrupt Blue Dog Kirsten Sinema (who actually-- by voting record-- is the single worst Democrat in the House) and almost-as-bad-as-Sinema worthless Jacky Rosen. Arizona progressives haven't gotten their shit together yet, but Nevada progressives sure have-- and with a far more qualified candidate that the swampy establishment is offering: Jesse Sbaih. Schumer, Reid and Van Hollen ar doing everything they can to bury Sbaih's campaign but progressive voters in Nevada are taking note-- and seeing who he is and who Jacky Rosen is. (Shamefully, the imbeciles at HRC have endorsed Sinema on the day she announced. She may be right-wing on everything else, but went it comes to her own private parts...)

Jesse Sbaih is upbeat and hopeful, if wary. "Democrats across the nation have awoken," he told us. "The days of Super Delegates, interfering with primary elections, and embracing corporate money are no longer tolerated by the majority. The more the Democratic Party insists on pushing its anointed candidates, disrupting the democratic process, and advancing the interests of greedy corporations (not the people), the more registered Democrats refuse to come out to vote in general elections. The 2016 election cycle was a perfect example of such intolerance. As we approach 2018, it behooves the Democratic Party to change its old ways or it shall face the peril of continuing to lose elections."

And progressives need to pick off corrupt and Republican-lite reactionaries in blue district primaries. One of the most important this cycle is the Chicagoland seat occupied by Blue Dog throwback Dan Lipinski. He can be beaten because the Democrats have an extraordinary candidate-- a stalwart progressive with deep community roots and the right message for the middle and working class voters in IL-03, Marie Newman. Yesterday she told us that "We have to start upgrading the party to have members of Congress who have real ideas and are willing to both fight and collaborate to get things done. Mr. Lipinski is the epitome of Blue-dog, Do-nothing establishment Dems. This district deserves a real Democrat with real ideas who will actually work and get results."

Goal ThermometerNormally, it takes 2 cycles to dislodge an entrenched incumbent and progressive champion Tim Canova is on his second cycle to replace the odious Debbie Wassermann Schultz in South Florida. "It's crucial we hold incumbent Democrats accountable," he just told us, "when they've shown a repeated pattern of selling out voters to corporate interests and personal political gain. There are none more in need of scrutiny and challenge than Debbie Wasserman Schultz-- for her many failures when chair of the Democratic National Committee, for undercutting so many other Democrats in and outside of Florida, and for taking millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the largest Wall Street banks and big corporate interests. Wasserman Schultz talks like a liberal and progressive, but she shills for predatory payday lenders, private prisons, fossil fuels and other big business donors. She personifies all that's wrong in our politics and with the Democratic Party. Wasserman Schultz will remain a danger to democracy and drag down Democrats as long as she's in public office."

As Humanist Report host Mike Figueredo reported at HuffPo yesterday, Yes, Medicare For All Is Definitely A Litmus Test For Democrats, not for swamp creatures like Schumer or Reid or Van Hollen, of course, but for actual Democrats.
Medicare for All is absolutely a litmus test! Democrats that refuse to cosponsor Sanders’ or Conyers’ bill in the Senate or House, respectively, will not only lose support (read: votes) from progressives, but we will actively find primary opponents to challenge and defeat them. If incumbent Democrats won’t support Medicare for All, progressives will find somebody else that will. In fact, we’re already doing that. Our intentions have been quite clear from the beginning.

On my podcast, The Humanist Report, I discussed a town hall that took place in Nevada’s 4th congressional district with newly-elected Rep. Ruben Kihuen. An activist named Amy Vilela showed up to ask Kihuen-- a self-proclaimed “progressive” and member of the congressional progressive caucus-- why he refuses to cosponsor Conyers’ Medicare for All bill. More importantly, Vilela’s question was accompanied with her daughter’s poignant story. Vilela explained to Kihuen that her daughter, Shalynne, died at the young age of 22-years-old because she was denied basic medical screenings that would have undoubtedly saved her life. Shalynne couldn’t prove that she had medical insurance and was instead told to go get insurance and find a doctor. But Shalynne’s story didn’t resonate with Kihuen, apparently. Not only did he refuse to commit to cosponsoring Conyers’ Medicare for All bill at that town hall, but even got arguably defensive, as constituents kept pushing the issue further. After reporting on the events that took place at this town hall, and how a so-called progressive couldn’t provide his constituents with one good reason why he wouldn’t support Medicare for All, my viewers submitted hundreds-- if not thousands-- of voicemails to both of Kihuen’s offices, demanding that he cosponsor Conyers’ bill. He still wasn’t moved.

[Note: Kihuen pretended to be a progressive to help him beat actual progressive Lucy Flores last year. Once he got to Congress he joined the corrupt, Wall Street-owned New Dems and quickly reversed his progressive positions and started running up a dreadful voting record. His ProgressivePunch Crucial Vote grade is a "C," far from what he promised when he sat in my living room and portrayed himself as a progressive champion. For Blue America, he was 2016's biggest disappointment.]

As a direct result of Kihuen’s unwillingness to do what he was elected to do (i.e. represent his constituents), he is now facing a primary challenger. His opponent is the mother he didn’t take seriously during that town hall: Amy Vilela. She announced her candidacy on July 19 on The Humanist Report, and she intends to cosponsor H.R. 676 herself since her representative refused to do it. But Amy isn’t the only progressive challenging an incumbent Democrat that refuses to support single-payer.

After months of putting pressure on Rep. Denny Heck in Washington state’s 10th congressional district, he’s now being challenged by a progressive named Tamborine Borrelli, namely because Heck refuses to cosponsor John Conyers’ bill.

...[C]onventional wisdom tells us that Democrats residing in relatively conservative districts-- or red and purple states-- shouldn’t get on board with an idea that presumably won’t resonate with more conservative voters. This line of thinking, however, is outdated. First and foremost, Democrats have lacked the courage to embrace bold progressive policies in conservative states and districts and have played it safe for years; and yet, they still managed to get wiped out at all levels of government. Playing it safe obviously hasn’t been a successful strategy for them.

Second of all, we’re witnessing a rapid cultural shift akin to the wave of social acceptance we saw in the early 2010s towards marriage equality. The “big government” and “socialist” boogeyman arguments just don’t work any longer. A majority of Americans now support single-payer. A recent Harvard-Harris poll found that 52% of Americans back Medicare for All. Some polls even find that single-payer is supported by a plurality of Republicans; that is, more support it than oppose it. Even in polls indicating single-payer doesn’t yet have a majority of support, attitudes towards Medicare for All are still becoming increasingly positive. Additionally, there’s overwhelming support for the general idea that “government is responsible” for ensuring citizens have healthcare. So even in polls that are less kind to single-payer as a policy, there’s still a great deal of symbolic support for it-- which is a strong indicator that Bernie is changing hearts and minds. In fact, Vox’s Dylan Matthews reports that even the alt-right “loves” single-payer, surprisingly.

But even if momentum wasn’t shifting towards single-payer among the general public, it would still be a winning strategy for Democrats. That may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s actually strategically sound. As Democrats have continued to shift to the right—in an effort to court moderates turned off by the Republican Party’s increasingly extremist right-wing views-- they’ve disenfranchised their core base that still exists on the left. America’s Overton window is almost exclusively right-wing, and the Democratic Party has abandoned their populist ideas in an effort to cater to what they think are more moderate voters. This is a strategy that has lead to the Democratic Party being completely annihilated at all levels of government. Moderates don’t like Democrats. When given the choice between a Republican candidate and Republican-lite candidate-- they’ll almost always opt for the real deal. The Democratic Party’s constituents have always been working class voters, and those individuals aren’t going to take time off of work and spend hours in line at the voting booth supporting a candidate whose neoliberal policies will only harm them slightly less than the Republican. They’ll just stay home.

If Democrats actually move back to the left and embrace a bold, progressive message, the voters they’ve abandoned just might come back to them and vote for the first time in a while. So, Democrats should be thanking progressives for making Medicare for All a litmus test because, if anything, it will help their electoral chances. Running away from progressive ideas is a losing strategy in conservative regions of the country because you need your base more than ever in these particular areas. Republicans don’t court moderate voters on the left because they know their core base on the far right won’t go for that; and in a time where Americans are incredibly polarized, it’s time Democrats acknowledge the reality of our current political landscape and opt for a strategy that will actually help them defeat Republicans. They must reinvigorate their demoralized base.

But everything I’m saying would be considered blasphemous to the Democratic Party’s overpaid strategists. Why listen to ordinary Americans when elites in D.C. and the media reinforce all of their bad decisions? More importantly, why alienate potential donors from the health insurance industry when Democrats know they only have to wait for Americans to grow so tired with Republicans and Trump that they’ll inevitably come running back to them even if they change nothing? That’s what the Party is banking on, which is why progressives have made Medicare for All a litmus test. We know Democrats won’t back Sanders’ or Conyers’ bills unless we force them to-- and that’s exactly what we intend to do.

Progressives (and left-leaning Democrats) would be dimwitted to not capitalize on the momentum and grassroots enthusiasm we currently see for single-payer. But besides Medicare for All being a practical and advantageous strategy for Democrats, it’s a litmus test because it’s the right thing to do. If Democrats don’t support a policy that would literally save countless lives, then what good are they? Really, Medicare for All is the easiest litmus test for Democrats to pass. If you don’t care about helping people, and only care about appeasing your donors, why did you run for Congress in the first place? If Shalynne’s story doesn’t tug on your heartstrings, then you’ve become too detached with the struggle of ordinary citizens. This is a moral issue.

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At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just in the past week, I've seen two different articles of hospital closures in Red areas. One was South Georgia, and one was Western North Carolina. IF the Democrats ruining - er, running the Party were smart, they would recognize a very beneficial issue long before Republicans would be prepared to oppose any action on behalf of those afflicted with closing hospitals.

But no. They would rather continue to collect big checks from corporate sponsors than to do the harder work of asking individual voters for their support. Did they not learn from Bernie's campaign?

I support the proposed attacks on Blue Dogs and "New" Dems. I suggest that p[ending hospital closures are a very good way to localize an issue and cause these corporate parasites to either defecate or vacate the excretion device.

At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:33 almost gets there... then cannot.

The democraps are not now and never will be again our party. They are owned and operated by the big money (who are less racist). It won't help to support and even elect a small number of good people in a party oligarchy (of 10s of thousands) that is part and parcel to the socioeconomic collapse since 1980.

The ONLY way is for voters to tell the democraps to go fuck themselves... and coalesce around a truly left party/movement.

But americans are far too stupid and tribal. So this won't happen.

The only thing left is to make your own defensive moves and await the Armageddon. It cannot NOT happen. And, collectively, we fucking deserve it.


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