Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Will Progressive Republicans Make A Comeback? The Competition Could Do Wonders For The Democratic Party


Blue America has always been more than aware of the failings of the Democratic Party. At a time when other progressive organizations were petrified of bucking the establishment too hard, we were working, successfully, to dislodge entrenched corrupt conservative Democratic incumbents like Al Wynn (MD), Tim Holden (PA) and Sylvester Reyes (TX), who were all replaced-- with progressives Donna Edwards, Matt Cartwright and Beto O'Rourke. But we've never endorsed a Republican. Except once, since we've come along in 2005, the Republican candidate was always the greater of two evils. And even in that "once," all we did was point out that Steve Pestka, the anti-choice homophobic asshole the Michigan Democratic Party had decided to run against libertarian Justin Amash, was a worse candidate than Amash. In fact, Michigan's whackadoodle anti-choice fascists decided to endorse putative Democrat Pestka instead of Republican Amash!

Let's not kid ourselves; whatever heritage of progressivism the GOP once had-- from Lincoln to Teddy Roosevelt, Tom Dewey, Jacob Javits, Nelson Rockefeller, Charles Percy, Mark Hatfield, Margaret Chase Smith, Charles Mathias and John Lindsay-- somewhere between the mass migration of Southern Democratic racists to the GOP and the ascendency of the Goldwater wing of the Republican Party, the GOP turned into a hardcore vehicle for hard core conservatism, gross corruption and, more recently, perhaps inevitably, a kind of neo-fascism, while the Democratic Party establishment moved right and away from it's own labor roots and more in a corporatist/Clintonian direction.

Will Blue America ever endorse a Republican? Who knows? I don't foresee it, but... there's an interesting movement on the fringe of the left. Some of the idealistic-- and impatient-- activists who had backed Bernie are having a look at the GOP as a vehicle to... well, to what is the question of course, but let's not go there quite yet. Let's start with the video up top, a monologue by freshly-minted Cincinnati faux-Republican Samuel Ronan.

You may have thought the contest to replace the wretched Wasserman Schultz was between the establishment candidate (former Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez) and Berniecrat Keith Ellison. On the final ballot, Perez got 235 votes (54%) and Ellison got 200 votes (46%). But before the final ballot there were a whole bunch of mostly vanity candidates, including South Carolina lobbyist Jaime Harrison, Sally Boynton Brown of Idaho (now, unfortunately, Florida, where she is doing far more damage), South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Fox News analyst Jehmu Greene, Peter Peckarsky and... Sam Ronan. Never heard of him? Not many others besides a handful of activists have either. In the first round of balloting he didn't get a single vote. He withdrew and endorsed Ellison.

Ronan came to America from Germany with his parents when he was 6 years old. He joined the Air Force and the became a dedicated left-wing activist. In the video above he makes the case that the Democratic Party sucks and that he might as well run for Congress as a Republican in the Cincinnati-based first district. He will be challenging Ryan rubber stamp Steve Chabot in the Republican primary.

I'm not sure if Ronan is aware that in the last Democratic wave (2008), Chabot was washed away, defeated by dull centrist Democrat Steve Driehaus. Dreihaus, riding Obama's coattails took 155,455 votes (52.5%) to Chabot's 140,683 (47.5%). On that same day, Obama had won 171,639 votes. Driehaus was an uninspiring conservative Democrat and in the 2010 midterm, all those 2008 Obama voters stayed away from the polls. Dreihaus only got 92,672 votes (46%) and lost to Chabot who took 103,770 votes (51.5%). My guess is that had Ronan stayed a Democrat and won the primary he could have beaten Chabot and gone on to inspire Democrats and independents in 2010 and beyond. Instead he's decided to run against Chabot in the primary, where he'd probably be lucky to get 20% of the vote.

But Ronan isn't the only idealistic progressive acting on this strategy. A somewhat sketchy group that tries identifying itself with Bernie, Brand New Congress, is backing some progressives running as Republicans, like Robb Ryerse in Arkansas' 3rd district, a Trumpist hellhole (Fayetteville and Ft Smith with an R+19 PVI). Trump beat Hillary 61.9% to 30.5%. Hillary, though, beat Bernie in the primary there, so, not a very high consciousness area, at least not yet. Maybe Ryerse can change that. Although a Democrat, Joshua Mahony, is running against incumbent wing-nut Steve Womack this cycle, no Democrat ran last year, in 2014 or in 2012. The last Democrat to run was Dave Whitaker in 2010 and he only got 27,6% of the vote. The last competitive race in the district was 25 years ago when Republican Tim Hutchinson edged Democrat John VanWinkle 125,295 (50.2%) to 117,775 (47.2%). Unlike Ronan, though, Ryerse, a pastor, actually is a Republican, albeit a genuinely progressive one.

Lindsay Brown (watch the video above) is a sharp, young progressive (ex-Democrat) running as a Republican against GOP incumbent Leonard Lance in north-central New Jersey. A progressive Democrat, Peter Jacob. is also running against Lance, as are half a dozen other Democrats. The DCCC seems to be encouraging a corrupt conservative party hack, Lisa Mandelblatt, exactly the kind of candidate Lance can count on beating and whose only argument-- aside from "I'm a woman and it's my turn"-- is "I m the lesser evil.

Perhaps Brown's, Ryerse's and Ronan's arguments will make sense to millennials, but it will be interesting to see how many actual Republican primary voters will be interested in progressive ideas re-cast in the kind of language Fox News viewers and Hate Talk Radio listeners have been trained-- brainwashed-- to listen to.

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At 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geez, if all these progressive Rs win, they might outnumber the progressives in the democrap caucus.

Hearing "progressive republican" is like smashing matter and anti-matter together. Mutual annihilation. Is it possible that the R voters are clueless enough to vote for a progressive? They certainly aren't progressive themselves... Maybe the quickest path to improvement is to capitalize on how brain dead the R voters are and fool them into electing a cadre of good people quite by mistake! It certainly won't work to try the same thing on the left. The voters are fractionally sentient and the party is irretrievably corrupt.

At 4:11 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Most of the younger generations think both parties are essentially two sides of the coin, so which one they choose to run for office in is irrelevant. To them, what matters is the message. There are solidly Republican districts where a Democrat simply isn't going to be heard because party trumps (no pun intended) message. I know someone who says he plans to vote for the young woman running for mayor in his city despite his being a lifelong Democrat and she running as a Republican. Why? Because her message is more Democratic than the Democrat's.

Whatever tool gets the job done.

At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

message ain't results. 2010 taught us that.

At 8:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forget the Republicans. There is no such animal as a progressive Repub. The Dems are rapidly following the same path, so forget them as well. It's past time for alternative parties to attract voters and win seats.

At 3:34 PM, Blogger Procopius said...

It's kind of a Zen Haiku, isn't it? Progressive Republican? What did you look like before you were born? Does a dog have Buddha nature? Just because I can't imagine such a creature is not evidence that one could not exist, but ...


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