Sunday, May 10, 2015

Are Chuck Schumer and Steve Israel Working To Populate Congress In The Image Of Scoop Jackson?


History lesson: In 1972 and again in 1976, the Beltway's conservative Democratic Establishment had found its man. The preferred candidate of the careerist hacks in DC was socially conservative Washington Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, who called himself the voice of those Democrats who didn't want "to make abortion, gay liberation and the legalization of marijuana the primary issues of the country." Jackson was a leader of the "Stop McGovern" cabal of right-wing Democrats and was instrumental in feeding the press all the "acid, amnesty and abortion" nonsense about McGovern. Jackson, a deranged warmonger and the neocon inspiration for shitheads like Paul Wolfowitz, Joe Lieberman and Richard Perle, was in Congress from 1941 until he finally died in 1983. He dropped out of the 1976 presidential race after his loss of the Pennsylvania primary to Jimmy Carter caused his campaign funds to dry up.

Over 4 decades have passed, and the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party is raging as strongly as when Jackson was denigrating reformers for LGBT equality, for women's Choice and for the right to use medical marijuana, with the iron fist of government smashing their lives to bits. Today, power-brokers like Chuck Schumer and Steve Israel are in positions to silence progressive voices and keep them from winning Democratic nominations for Congress. Neither of them has a primary opponent; in fact, so far, neither even has a general election opponent, especially odd in the case of the unpopular Israel, who represents a swingy district with an even PVI. It's almost as if the Beltway national Republican Establishment is buying them off with the promise of easy reelection.

Today, Schumer's heavy hand is selecting Jackson-like conservative Democrats to run for the Senate in state after state-- in Florida, lifelong Republican Patrick Murphy over progressive icon Alan Grayson; in Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto over Dina Titus; in Ohio, Ted Strickland over P.G. Sittenfeld; in Pennsylvania, anyone over Joe Sestak; in Maryland, Chris Van Hollen over Donna Edwards. Meanwhile, in the House, Israel is pulling Ben Ray Luján's strings to guarantee plenty of right-of-center, Wall Street-friendly candidates disguised as Democrats, like William Derrick (NY), Shawn O'Connor (NH), Jeff Van Drew (NJ)...

There are no Scoop Jacksons hiding among the Blue America candidates for the Senate or Blue America candidates for the House. It would be tragic if the Democratic Party were to be eviscerated by selfish careerists like Schumer and Israel and the garbage hitching a ride on their coattails.

This morning, writing for the Florida Squeeze, Brook Hines retold the infamous 2006 Tester-Schumer story in the context of the 2016 Florida Senate race.
In 2006 Jon Tester wanted to run for a Senate seat in Montana, but the party had their chosen conservative corporate candidate and they wanted badly to keep the progressive Tester out of the race. Chuck Schumer, as head of the DSCC at the time, played the heavy, making sure the Wall Street donors’ candidate had a “clear path.”

Fortunately for Tester, the party’s favorite son turned out to be cheating on his wife and had “conflicts of interest” that tanked his bid. Jon Tester became a Senator from Montana (turned out being progressive wasn’t that big of a problem after all), and now it’s his job to muscle progressives out of competing for strategic Senate seats (because, you know, being progressive is a big hurdle).

Who stole Jon Tester’s soul? And more to the point, why does the party seem to prefer Democrats who lose? Isn’t the point to keep as many seats as possible? Wouldn’t the best way to do that be to vet candidates in a primary and send a tried and true candidate to the general?

It makes no sense, but the party only wants a specific kind of Democrat: a Patrick Murphy, Charlie Crist, or Alex Sink. Ambiguously Republican Democrats. Vaguely Demopublican Republicrats. Losers, all.

Every time the party came out of a whooping of one of these sorry candidates it says, “Aw shucks, we shoulda been more effective in our messaging.” At some point you have to admit it’s not the messaging. I’m starting to wonder if we’re really even trying to win at all, or if the point is simply to keep progressives from taking higher seats of power.

...Patrick Murphy’s bizarre early coronation as our only choice for Marco Rubio’s Senate seat stands out as a prime example of this pattern. As a lifelong Republican with no name recognition, one of the most conservative records in Congress, who has had to recently back track on Social Security and the full support of the party, we’re treading depressingly familiar ground.

Why is the party so terrified of Alan Grayson? He’s a lifelong Democrat and national progressive leader with a trusted brand, an enormously effective fundraising apparatus, and a known, muscular volunteer base. In other words, a candidate who can unite the voters as a champion of our values, and win. Are they simply resisting the idea of Grayson advancing to the Senate?

I’ve heard many speculate that those stories that you saw last week about Alan Grayson were a shot across the bow indicating that if he got into the race, his own party would become his prime adversary. They may have a point. The Politico story cited an email provided to them from a “democratic-leaning organization” and a “Democratic source with knowledge of the situation.” This is Dem on Dem aggression.

Who was this democratic-leaning organization that shared the email with the intent to malign Grayson? Who is the “Democratic source” with knowledge of the situation? Would these not be players within the party who have a personal stake the outcome? One thing is for sure, they aren’t bystanders. By the acts they took, they are active brokers sending the message that they intend to get nasty.

It’s fine if there’s people within the party structure prefer candidates for the 1% and seek to get them elected. We have a right to know that’s happening and discuss it. We need to be more honest about the fact that we’re not playing on a left vs right spectrum. It’s far more accurate to say we have a 1% vs 99% spectrum. Conservadems will vote with us on weed and LGBT issues, but they’ll give away the store in the form of tax havens to corporations, defense spending and executive powers-- what brought us the Great Recession and the Iraq War.

So, looking at the bright side, maybe it’s a good thing we’re so dreadful at getting these guys elected.

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At 6:56 AM, Blogger Procopius said...

"Isn’t the point to keep as many seats as possible?" Well, that's what Rahm said, isn't it? It was fine if they were really Republicans running as Democrats because they were more likely to win that way. One reason PPACA was such a cliff-hanger was that the Democrats never actually had 60 seats in the Senate. At the peak, before Scott Brown won in Mass., they had 58 and Bernie Sanders and Joe Fking Lieberman, and a bunch of blue dogs and DLCs that you didn't know which way they would decide to vote, like Mary Fking Landrieau.

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a progressive, love Grayson but his bitterly contested divorce make it impossible for him to win. Florida is still a bible belt state & a lot of blue collar workers who might vote for him will not, particularly after tons of TV ads about what a shit he is for leaving his wife.


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