Wednesday, July 10, 2019

How Can You Tell The Difference Between A Progressive Democrat And A Centrist?


A friendly congressman called me yesterday to complain about progressives-- particularly young ones-- not pulling together behind Pelosi and Biden. I reminded him what primaries are all about and he asked if I thought all the "energetic young people"-- who he doesn't think know anything (he said that)-- would accept Biden as the nominee if he wins the primary. I told him that most Democrats probably will, although I think Trump will be able to persuade many African-Americans to sit on their hands rather than vote for the racist Biden will be painted as. I also told him that many of the "energetic young people" don't identify as Democrats per se and that they might be excited about Bernie or Elizabeth Warren for reasons that have little to do with the Democratic Party. That seemed to make him uncomfortable and he said he had to catch a plane and would call when he got too DC. He hasn't.

Too many professional Democratic politicians-- Biden, Hoyer and Pelosi being stand-outs-- have allowed themselves-- sometimes over the years--to be inculcated with Republican, or conservative world views, for "the energetic young people" to be able to relate to them. This week Robert Reich explained some of the lies conservatives spout. Listen closely and see if these aren't lies you also hear from conservative Democrats-- or see conservative Democrats voting for them.

Conservative Democrats like Biden claim to be "progressives" when it suits their campaign narratives. Just yesterday, the New York Post ran a piece on crooked centrist Andrew Cuomo screaming about how he's the left. He sounded just like Biden:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo railed against progressives activists as talkers rather than doers and proclaimed “I am the Left!” in New York when asked if he backed the wrong horse in the contentious Queens District Attorney Democratic primary race.

Cuomo-- the de facto head of the Democratic Party-- backed establishment candidate Queens Borough President Melinda Katz over democratic socialist public defender Tiffany Caban, who was endorsed by lefty firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“What do you make of this whole thing, did you bet on the wrong horse? You’ve been saying you’re a progressive for a long time now, does that put you in a bad spot?” WAMC host Alan Chartock asked.

“I am, I believe I am the most progressive, or one of the most progressive leaders in the state. It depends on how you define progressive and that my friend should be the discussion in this Democratic presidential primary. What does that mean progressive?” Cuomo shot back.

“How do you define progressive? By pontification? By rhetoric? By aspirational goals with no realistic plan or knowledge or analysis?” he said.

But when asked if he’s taking shots at other lefty Democrats such as Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx/Queens), Cuomo said, “No, I am the left. I am the left!”

“Who says the progressives are more progressive than other progressives? You know what I mean?”

Caban, initially declared the victor, now ranks behind Katz by a slim margin of 16 votes, forcing the Board of Elections to begin a hand count of 91,000 ballots.
When Pelosi left the progressive movement to pursue congressional leadership, it would have been pretty hard to make a case that she wasn't-- like Biden-- a real progressive. He never was. She was. But the progressive movement is not static; it continues to evolve. Bernie has. Elizabeth Warren has. Nancy Pelosi hasn't. Not even a little. She's not even close to being a progressive any longer. She's an establishment conservative now and isn't capable of realizing it.

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At 9:17 AM, Blogger Jimbo said...

The idea that Trump might try to persuade African-American voters that he, Trump, would be preferable on civil rights grounds than Biden is beyond delusional. I'm not saying he wouldn't try that tack if Biden became the nominee just that Trump is the worst mouthpiece for that just like his frantic boasts about the environment were totally ridiculous.

My own view is that slinging around terms like "progressive" or "moderate" outside of a specific policy context and related implementation plan is really just meaningless, especially at this stage of the race. For any candidate, there needs to be a balance between personality and, relatedly, a getting to know me strategy combined with transformational policies that have a realistic implementation plan plus an effective messaging strategy for the first two.

But you need all three.

At 9:56 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Andrew Cuomo To Alan Chartock - “No, I am the left. I am the left!”

No you're not.

At 11:03 AM, Blogger paul lukasiak said...


Howie did not say that Trump would persuade AA voters that he was superior to Biden. What he said was that Trump (with russian help) would convince black voters that Biden was not worth voting for -- that on election day, they won't show up at the polls, and if they do show up, won't stand in a long line just to make sure that Biden is elected.

In other words, black voters (and most progressives) won't WANT to vote for Joe Biden. They will be showing up to vote against Trump, period. And the more people who think "we got through four years of Trump and Biden won't do the job we need to be done" the fewer voters will show up for Biden -- and Dems up and down the ballot.

At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


"realistic implementation" is entirely in the eyes of the beholder much like "electability".

e.g. no one in 1859 had a realistic plan for abolishing slavery. The same is true of civil rights in 1960. Even Kennedy had doubts that his moon shot could be achieved before 1970. What matters is that a candidate has specific commitments and credible commitments.

Obviously in the immediate and near-term we aren't going to have a Green New Deal or a universal Medicare system. However, there are clearly some candidates who are going to push much harder than others and attempt to alter the calculus for what is ultimately possible. I think Sanders policies are highly unlikely to be achieved in 2021 if he becomes president. On the other hand, I think he's got an entirely reasonable assessment of what it will take to achieve those goals any time soon. e.g. in all likelihood it won't be a result of insider dealing, but will require a national mobilization from below of working people who are willing to push their representatives to act.

Similarly, Pelosi signals to us, like Biden and Schumer, that nothing will fundamentally change anytime soon, based on the way that the DCCC, DSCC, and DNC amd affiliated lobbies and consultancies are organized, how they raise money, and based on whose in leadership. Odds are, if we are going to achieve critical and timely goals, it will mean that an electoral wave will need to sweep through Washington that doesn't just flip party control, but also alters the balance within parties.

Finally, with respect to an assessment of individual politicians, you also have to look at the structures and organization that are in place. What are the coalitions behind a candidate? How is a candidate raising money? Is a candidate building organizational power within the party or outside of it, or is the candidate using a hybrid strategy? e.g. Obama could have fundamentally altered the balance in DC if he had used the OFA as an outside pressure organization. When he rolled it into the DNC after 2008, he sent a clear signal about the limits of his ambition and policy goals.

At 7:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Corporatists like Biden wish they had the power over voters that CEOs have over employees. They don't, not even if they bring back slavery in the form of corporate ownership of the workers. Then they could have their corporate "donors" force the workers to see things the desired way without having to actually DO anything to earn it.

At 8:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:33, a pretty good assessment but with one problem:
wrt individual pols, it is pointless to do much of anything but this: which party is he/she cleaving to?
You know that a Nazi will be servile to money and hate. that's pretty much their entire CV.
You also know that a democrap will be servile to money. That's pretty much that party's entire CV.

You will hear talk from some, passionate at times (see: AOC and Bernie). But you will not see action. AOC endorsed Pelosi to be the sole decider in the house. Bernie endorsed the greatest democrap bank whore to be president.

There you have it. That's all you need to know.

The difference between a true progressive and a democrap (centrist is a misuse of terms... fascist would be far more accurate)?

The true progressive is not going to be a member of the democrap party. The two are philosophically incompatible.

At 10:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 8:44 PM. There's a near horizon and a long-term horizon. With respect to the near-term horizon you have to assess what your power is and negotiate the best possible deal at that time; ideally in such a way that you move the process along towards longer term goals.

In the case of the race for the Pelosi leadership, the outcome of the race wasn't really decided in December 2018. The process played out over several prior election cycles based on control of the DCCC and other leadership positions. As a first-term member AOC did not have the ability to unilaterally dictate terms. Her faction represented a minority of the new membership, and within the existing membership, they just didn't have the votes for a more progressive option. The balance of power was in the hands of more conservative members. Pelosi may not be good at this point, but I strongly doubt that any of the alternatives would have been better. So the choice was obvious. You vote for Pelosi with your eyes open, hope for the best, and make contingency plans for the future. For the new freshman the first challenge is just going to be to maintain their seats. The next stage, which affiliated groups are working on, is working to change the balance within the caucus, so that there is a more favorable split in the next election. Odds are the real change will take several election cycles.

AOC and Bernie have done a great job shifting the political terms of the debate. They have also altered the political calculus to some degree in state and local elections -- and at the federal level. What AOC and some of the other freshman are doing is a fundamental departure from what has happened in the past -- made possible in part through social media.

I have a lot of respect for what they are attempting to do. It is a monumental task.

I'm not really that interested in a "True Progressive" label that isolates itself and exists in some kind of hermetically sealed universe outside of political struggle. If you don't see a path in electoral work,there are plenty of other ways to engage in meaningful political work. e.g. organizing at work or in a local community. If you are doing that, great. if you don't believe in electoralism, that's fine too. If you're a fully committed Green Party type, I don't see why you are wasting your time here.

Personally, I don't care if people call me a "true progressive" or not. What I care about are policy goals like a universal single-payer system, a Green New Deal, not locking kids up in concentration camps at the border. I'm willing to work with other like minded people to achieve those goals. If you have some alternative path to achieve those objectives, have at it, and more power to you.

At 8:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:26, if you really do care about USP, GND and being against concentration camps, there is simply no path forward with the democrap party.

In fact, the party is thwarting any and all progress on all of those issues and more.

And AOC certainly didn't have to vote for Pelosi... except to get a committee seat and maybe re-election graft. She's impotent on that committee. And the party still might recruit a new fascist to primary her.
But I repeat, she's impotent. She can only run to the end of her chain and bark. And Pelosi is shortening her chain every day.

Your evolution pathway for the democraps to eventually return to 1936 is also unworkable. It won't work and it would take far too long.

But I belie the admitted impossibility of my own hypothesis -- because it won't work for the same reason -- voters are far too stupid to ever make it work.

Voters are stupid, lazy and far too gullible in this shithole. No "big picture" exists and no far horizon. When only instant gratification exists, the least horrible immediate outcome is always desired.

thus: $hillbillary over Bernie. Pelosi over anyone else. and it means trump wins again.

You might not want to believe this, but there are millions of voters who feel as I do, though almost all of them just stopped voting. if the DNC rigs it for fascist joe, there will be millions more.

eventually, either there will be a 30% turnout to elect Nazis ad infinitum, or there will be a truly left party fill the vacuum. Or it'll be too late and we'll all be saluting pictures of trump in every public space, like north korea or Nazi Germany.


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