Thursday, August 09, 2018

The Establishment LOVES It When Progressives Lose A Race


Media conservatives could not wait to attack Alexandria (and Bernie) for the races "they" lost Tuesday. This was an especially venal headline from venal right-wing propagandist and fake news manufacturer Kyle Olson, Socialist star Ocasio-Cortez strikes out: All endorsed candidates lose Tuesday primaries. "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s record on Tuesday night for her chosen primary candidates," he giggled, "was as bare as a Venezuelan supermarket shelf." And dull status quo shill Bill Scher quickly penned Down Goes Socialism for Politico. I'm sure Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Chuck Schumer are all patting themselves on the back today. "If you thought," he channeled, "that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset primary win over Rep. Joe Crowley meant the Democratic Party was poised to go socialist, think again. Last night’s largely Midwest primaries produced a near-shutout for the anti-establishment left. Ocasio-Cortez partnered with Bernie Sanders to make a series of splashy endorsements that, in the end, failed to clinch victories. And two leftist upstarts hoping to emulate Ocasio-Cortez, and defeat longtime Democratic incumbents, fell far short."
The most glaring defeat came in Michigan’s gubernatorial primary. This is the state where Sanders defied the polls and edged out Hillary Clinton, raising hopes that he had a magic touch in the Rust Belt. Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez tried to catapult the young and brash newcomer Abdul El-Sayed, who trailed in polls, endorsements and money to former state Senate Democratic leader Gretchen Whitmer. They could only nudge him up to second place, with 30 percent of the vote.

In fact, Hillary Clinton’s endorsement appeared to carry the most weight in Michigan. Her late robocall in support of Haley Stevens helped take Stevens from second-place in polls to an Election Night victory in the suburban 11th district, a top Democratic target, while Fayrouz Saad, backed by Ocasio-Cortez, placed fourth. In two other House primaries in Michigan, candidates backed by the party’s official campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, coasted against supporters of Sanders’ signature Medicare for All proposal.

El-Sayed’s defeat may have been the most noticeable loss for Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders, but the defeat of Brent Welder in Kansas is far more politically significant. Welder, a former Sanders 2016 campaign staffer, hoped to carry the Democratic banner in Kansas’ 3rd congressional district. The largely urban district is a top party priority, one of a handful of Republican-held seats that Clinton won in 2016.

The Berniecrat left desperately wants to convince naysaying political veterans (and annoying political pundits) that a democratic socialist platform holds the ticket to victory in heartland districts like this one—so much so that Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez gave a full-throated endorsement to Welder over another compelling and fairly liberal candidate in Sharice Davids.

She’s a lesbian Native American, professional mixed martial arts fighter and former Obama White House Fellow. But Davids exhibited a bit too much of an incrementalist streak for some progressives, arguing that single-payer health insurance is not realistic in the short term and supporting free community college instead of promising to make all college debt-free. Negating the stereotype that the far left puts “identity politics” above all, Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez backed the white guy.

Welder led in the early vote, raising hopes among progressive populists that they would get one major victory out of last night’s primaries, only to see Davids come out on top Wednesday morning by about 2,000 votes. That leaves Nebraska’s Kara Eastman as the only single-payer supporter nominated for a competitive House race in America’s “breadbasket.” (In Kansas’ 4th congressional district, James Thompson, who supports single-payer and was endorsed by Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, won his primary, setting up a rematch with incumbent Rep. Ron Estes. But most professional handicappers don’t consider the seat to be attainable for Democrats.)

Targeted Democratic incumbents easily survived challengers who hoped to be the next Ocasio-Cortez and who were endorsed by the anti-establishment Justice Dems. In Washington State’s “top-two” primary, Susan Smith received less than half the votes of Rep. Adam Smith and failed to make the cut. And in Missouri’s first congressional district, Rep. William Lacy Clay defeated Cori Bush by 20 points. While the remaining Democratic incumbents still facing primaries this year shouldn’t get caught napping like Rep. Joe Crowley, nor do they have to fear that the Democratic Party is gripped with a fever to throw all the bums out.

The one endorsement that paid off for Ocasio-Cortez was of Rashida Tlaib, who won a close race to succeed John Conyers in Michigan’s 13th district and, having no Republican opponent, is poised to be the first Muslim woman elected to Congress. But that victory illuminates the limits of Ocasio-Cortez’s influence. Michigan’s 13th is like New York’s 14th: deep, deep blue. Ocasio-Cortez’s district is the 30th-most Democratic in the country. Tlaib’s is the 21st. When Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth snarked that Ocasio-Cortez represented the future of the Democratic Party “in the Bronx,” she was mistaken. It’s the future of the Bronx-- and Detroit.

OK, that’s a cheap shot. Cori Bush performed better against Clay than did Russ Carnahan, a sitting congressman (who was redistricted out of his seat), in 2012. As FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich wrote on Twitter , “This tells you all you need to know about how the Democratic Party has moved.” Bush, El-Sayed, Smith and Welder all scored about one-third of the Democratic vote in their contests, which is not nothing.

The Democratic Party is more liberal than it was 15 years ago, and there’s no question that shift is partly due to an increasingly vocal, confident, confrontational democratic socialist faction. But it is still only a faction. Most Democratic nominees in competitive House races-- not to mention incumbent Senate Democrats fighting for their political lives in red states—are not embracing single-payer or calling for the abolishment of ICE. They are mostly calling for improvements of the Affordable Care Act and a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented.

“There is no district too red for us to flip,” Ocasio-Cortez declared in a recent speech. Given how close Danny O’Connor came to winning the special election in Ohio’s 12th district, she’s probably right. But her platform doesn’t seem like the path to Democratic victories in red districts, based on Tuesday’s results. In the places where democratic socialists are making their biggest inroads, the hue is blue.
So what does this committed defender of the status quo have wrong? First off, because of her experience as a state legislator coupled with her policy agenda, Rashida Tlaib, was probably the most important race of the evening. And she fought off and beat-- much to the chagrin of the status quo Democrats-- a gaggle of establishment Dems, including the nephew, Ian Conyers, of the outgoing congressman, the son, Coleman Young II, of Detroit's first African-American mayor, the current president of the Detroit City Council, Brenda Jones and the current mayor of suburban Westland (the white candidate in the race).

I seem to recall that the big rally that Bernie and Alexandria did together was in Wichita... where James Thompson won went on to win a 65.3-34.7% landslide. Last time the establishment was busy blowing $6 million on some dull, meaningless centrist in Georgia, this was the result:

The establishment spent virtually nothing to help James Thompson at around the same time and look how his race ended up:

Imagine of one of those millions they wasted on Ossoff had been spent on Thompson's race. So that parenthetical dismissal from Bill Scher is just more elitist crap. KS-04 is very much in play, particularly after Estes just spent the last year being a lapdog and enabler for Trump.

Right now progressive activists who backed Brent Welder in KS-03 and Abdul El-Sayed in Michigan are rallying for Sharice David and Gretchen Whitmer... which is more than the DCCC is doing for progressive primary winners like Thompson (KS), Matt Longjohn MI), Mike Siegel (TX), Dayna Steele (TX), Kendra Fershee (WV), Jess King(PA), J.D. Scholten (IA) or Carolyn Long (WA).

Even Fox News' Todd Starnes decided to attack Alexandria, claiming she was a distraction from Danny O'Connor's campaign in Ohio! John Amato at Crooks and Liars had the story. "Religious right loon Todd Starnes... [said] 'another issue here is the Democrats, they've got real trouble on their hands. I imagine Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is going to be crying into her pillow tonight because the Democrat, here O'Connor-- look how he ran, he ran not as a progressive, one of those Socialists, you ran as a centrist. That's a big problem for the Democrats.'"

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At 5:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not the establishment. The money. In this context, those are equivalents.

Now, the lie: "The Democratic Party is more liberal than it was 15 years ago.."

No. It only seems to TALK more liberal because their normal rhetoric has become corporatist/free trade etc. The liberal talk stands out more. However, their deeds have descended to become strictly corporatist and establishment. 2009 saw zero bankers prosecuted for $20 TRILLION in fraud. You can't prove your corporatist fidelity better than that.

I don't know whether AOC or Bernie actually expected to win a few races in the Midwest. After all, among the left, those states are the dumbest, which is REALLY saying something.

But the epitome of pathetic is recognizing that, in a massive anti-red wave, making a less corporatist democrap more competitive but still a loser is not a reason for optimism.

Every democrap is still a democrap. They vie for the privilege of giving the despot (scummer or Pelosi) their gavels again (and in so doing becoming a puppet to corporations) so they alone can determine the legislative direction of this Nazi shithole.

At 6:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any so-called "democrat" who cheers when progressives lose is a tool of Corporatism and deserves to be voted out of office.

At 7:28 AM, Blogger Anthony said...

The media acting like this is all on her. She's actually inspiring more people to get out and vote and raising voter turnout. People who all but gave up on participating in democracy because of our shitty corrupt politicians. Before she won her primary, if you went around asking these people if they'll vote in a primary, most would say they don't vote or that they didn't know there was a primary.

At 8:58 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Not the establishment. The money. In this context, those are equivalents.

Now, the lie: "The Democratic Party is more liberal than it was 15 years ago.."


Any so-called "democrat" who cheers when progressives lose is a tool of Corporatism and deserves to be voted out of office.

I know who Ben Ray Lujan he's Nancy Pelosi hand picked corporate lackey running the DCCC he's pathetic.

At 3:45 PM, Blogger Elizabeth Burton said...

Hey, give them a break. They think the goal is to "turn the Democratic Party socialist." For heaven's sake don't burst that bubble.

At 8:40 PM, Blogger Anthony said...

Nobody has a problem with socialism when it means we get such cheap gas prices that it stops dead in its tracks any chance at divestment from fossil fuels. Or that $0.89 cent hamburger from McDonalds when producing one pound of beef uses 1,800 gallons of water. Or bank bailouts when the mortgage industry takes a shit because they gambled with the housing market...

At 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now you all see why I observe that even lefty voters are dumber than shit?

The democrap party will never become socialist. They, in fact, are moving in the opposite direction (neoliberal) every cycle... sometimes in leaps and bounds. AOC and Bernie and Elizabeth and stache and the rest of the BA slate will not change this vector at all. And, in fact, Bernie and Elizabeth are playing a key role in that vector... that of sheepdogs.

And voters affirm that vector every single cycle. So there's that. (circling back)

At 9:55 PM, Blogger Anthony said...

At their core, they're all democrats. Even the "independent" Bernie. Different shades of democrat, the shittiest of that bunch being Warren, who puts on a nice show, but doesn't always reflect that in the way she votes. If Alex really is the future of the democratic party, I believe she will be the driving force behind the shift away from neoliberalism. Younger voters know which side to take when it comes to the issues and policy. We just need more of them to run because people my age (gen X) and older are too indoctrinated in Third Way Politics.

At 6:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anthony, you are far too kind to those voters and their sheepdogs. "indoctrinated in Third Way Politics" is just another way to say STOOOOPID.

A person either gets it or they don't. third way... fascism... neoliberalism... corruption, cowardice, betrayals... it's all pure evil committed with a smile. If you don't get that, you're a goddamn idiot.

At 8:37 AM, Blogger Anthony said...

I've actually been trying to be a little softer on people so I'm glad you noticed. The moral highground has been usurped by charlatans and we have to take it back and we need more convincing arguments.

At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I make convincing arguments. But I believe that being soft on morons is why we have so friggin many morons today.

Back when you got your ass kicked early on for being a dumbfucktard, there was motivation to NOT be a dumbfucktard. We've lost that motivation in the last half century. You should not get a trophy just for showing up with your shoes on the correct feet.


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