Thursday, October 24, 2019

A Transformative Role In American Politics... Bernie, AOC, Rebecca Parson


I don't know if I would have had the guts Ryan Grim showed earlier in the week when he went on Chris Hayes' show on Comcast-TV and denounced the network-- Hayes, as he noted, is the exception-- for blocking out Bernie. Corporate media-- corporate everything, corporate America-- is at war. They're at war with us. We need to fight back. Bigly.

Yesterday, AOC sent out a fundraising letter for Bernie. "The first time I heard about Bernie Sanders," she wrote, "I was waiting tables at a greasy spoon diner. I was working 12-hour shifts, scraping by without health benefits, and making less than a living wage. Like millions of working people, I had resigned myself to believing this was just the way things were." Did you ever experience that? I did. For years, I had to decide whether my last few dollars would feed my gas tank or my belly. (I was much thinner then.)

"Bernie," she continued, "helped many of us realize things don’t have to be this way. Working people don’t have to accept an economy rigged to protect the powerful. We can transform our country, if and only if we build a multi-racial, multi-gendered, multi-generational movement for change. This weekend I stood with more than 25,000 friends in Queens, New York to endorse Bernie for president."
The only reason I believed I could launch a longshot run for Congress is because Bernie’s campaign proved that you can build a grassroots movement and win. He showed what people-powered mass movement politics can accomplish at the ballot box.

Our priority is not only defeating Donald Trump in 2020. It is building a grassroots movement to dismantle the systems of which Trump is a symptom.

When we do that, we can affirm health care as a right and pass Medicare for All. We can pass a Green New Deal to decarbonize our economy and create millions of union-wage jobs. We can reform our criminal justice system, and make college tuition free.

We can do all of these things, but only if millions of us come together to form the greatest grassroots movement this country has ever seen.
78% is higher than 74%

We're enthusiastic about all of our candidates at Blue America-- like a parent. We don't favor one over an other. We love everybody equally. Sometimes, though, I detect a little something special from some of us in regard to one candidate from way up in northwest Washington. Rebecca Parson is a queer democratic socialist, a tenants rights organizer, a board member of Whole WA, which fights for single payer healthcare, and a commission on the Tacoma Commission on Disabilities. She's spent her whole life fighting for the poor and working class. Her opponent, Derek Kilmer, is chair of the New Democrats and fundraises and controls millions of dollars that he funnels to other conservative Democrats like himself. And as a member of the Trump-friendly Problem Solvers Caucus, he works to thwart progressive policies. He refuses to support Medicare for All or the Green New Deal, voted to cut food stamps for 1.7 million people, voted to weaken the political power of unions, and-- against the wishes of every union in the district-- voted to fast track the TPP.

There’s no excuse for this behavior in a progressive state like Washington that caucused for Bernie (though Kilmer used his superdelegate vote for Hillary Clinton) and in a district that has had Democratic representation for over 50 years, including during the 1994 Republican wave. But ultimately, this isn’t about voting data or polls. It’s about the morality of denying a working class district the policies it desperately needs: Medicare for All with drug treatment, the Green New Deal with a federal jobs guarantee, and a Homes Guarantee with universal rent control and the end of homelessness.

Kilmer is on the path of Crowley before him, who also chaired the New Democrats, and it would be a similarly huge upset to defeat him. Especially with that defeat coming at the hands of the first woman or LGBTQ person ever to run for that seat. Telling me I could share it with DWT readers, Parson told me, "Bernie's endorsement would mean so much, because it's him and his political revolution that convinced me running and winning was possible for me. Bernie endorsing a fellow democratic socialist in this race would be huge in getting it the national attention it deserves and helping us get the policies our people here need."

Goal ThermometerThe only way the progressive policies that Bernie has been talking about his whole life-- and running on now-- are going to become law is to elect more progressives and especially more courageous progressives to replace reactionaries-- both reactionary Republicans and reactionary Democrats like Kilmer. Rebecca's campaign is a real long shot-- although not anymore a long shot than AOC's was in 2018. Many Blue America contributors took the shot with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Let's do the same now for Rebecca Parson this cycle. Please consider contributing to her and to the other progressive candidates on the ActBlue page you'll get to if you click on the 2020 thermometer on the right. Look at the names on that list. It takes political courage to take that stand, political courage we're going to need in 2021 and 2022 and beyond to start passing legislation to fundamentally change our country-- fundamentally change in a way Status Quo Joe has admitted he stands against, like Medicare-for-All.

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At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Transformative, rhetorically only. AOC endorsed Pelosi for speaker, thus endorsing the tyrannical rule of money in the house and rendering all she SAYS she believes moot.

And Bernie has been in congress during the entire 40-year decay of pre-Reagan into the Nazi shithole we now have. The absolute BEST you can say of him is he is ineffective.

"Bernie helped many of us realize things don’t have to be this way. Working people don’t have to accept an economy rigged to protect the powerful. We can transform our country, if and only if we build a multi-racial, multi-gendered, multi-generational movement for change. This weekend I stood with more than 25,000 friends in Queens, New York to endorse Bernie for president."

AOC as sheepdog? And in the utterly pointless pursuit of the only guy running as a democrap that the democrap PARTY will not allow to win?

see. rhetorically only.

fact: the economy *IS* rigged to protect and promote the money. has been since 1981.
fact: neither she nor Bernie (nor she AND Bernie) CAN transform America... clearly, since it has only gotten worse since either one was elected.

fact: "build a ... movement for change"? where? the democrap party cannot be both the fascist, corporatist corrupt party it has been for 2 generations *AND* even potentially be a movement for anything but MOS.


And AOC seems to think she got elected for her rhetoric and "ideas". she got elected because she is the correct ethnicity for her district, she is a democrap AND, more important, she's nuclear hot and has more charm than JFK or Jacquie had.
(she was also running against the most corrupt congresswhore this side of Pelosi and hoyer).

At 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@1:44 So no change is possible? Bernie has been advocating for single payer and against corporate money's influence in politics for 40 years. Seems to me that close to 50% of the Dem candidates this season are parroting both these ideas. That big money will fight these is a given, that they will win is not. If it took Bernie till 2016 to get these ideas accepted by the majority of Americans than maybe the flock needs less barking and more bahaaaaahhing.

At 10:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 1:44 PM,

AOC never discounted the role of identity in her election (e.g. she specifically references this as a factor in the run-up to the primary election as one of the things working in her favor -- see the great documentary about the House race "Knock Down the House").

Those factors may have been a necessary condition for a successful challenge of Crowley, but it was not a sufficient condition by itself. e.g. she lives in one of the most racially diverse districts in the U.S. -- one of the largest immigrant communities in the U.S. Still her opponent, Joe Crowley, was basically slated as Pelosi's heir apparent. He had a massive cash advantage, high name ID, the benefit of a political machine and patronage network. That race was a major upset. AOC and her team had to thread the needle in order to win.

Her team benefited from two "failed" prior elections -- the 2016 NY Presidential primary with Sanders, and a district city council race -- which helped them to identify potential supporters in a low turnout, June primary.

It helps that AOC is smart, charismatic and articulate, had a much better understanding of the district than the incumbent, and has a first class work ethic. It helped that her opponent and his family had basically lived full time in a wealthy DC suburb and had been gifted his seat and never faced a serious challenge. Her team also did great work with the nuts and bolts of the campaign on what was the equivalent of a shoe-string budget. She did all this too as a 20-something year old, in her first run for political office, without any real institutional support, which in and of itself is remarkable.

There are millions of people in this country who broadly fit the generic categories that you reduce AOC down too. Yet, I strongly doubt that there are ten 27 year old in a generation who could have pulled of what she and her team did. So far, in U.S. history, there is only one. Maybe there will be others in the future. However, high ranking incumbents rarely lose primaries the way that Crowley did. Even in the case of someone like Eric Cantor, Cantor's people didn't have the same kind of control over the primary process and the election machinery the way that Crowley and his people did (and to some extent, still do). Cantor didn't outspend his opponent 18 to 1. Just getting on the ballot was itself a major challenge and it only happened because a candidate in her team were willing to put in a lot of work over the course of months. When it comes to corruption too, Crowley was not exactly a special case either, and voters often do not punish an incumbent simply for being corrupt. e.g. think of a guy like Jim Traficant, who was way more blatant and was only removed by his colleagues, not voters. If Crowley's routine corruption was disqualifying by itself, more than half the members of Congress would be out of a job every election cycle.

As far as the U.S. economy being rigged only since 1981, that's also being way too reductive. The New Deal-era and the decade or two after were the abberation, not the norm. For women and most other minority groups, who tend to occupy the most precarious parts of the economy, there has never been a time when the economy was NOT rigged.

What politicians like Sanders and AOC have been able to achieve just by getting elected, is extremely rare -- almost unprecedented. If there is any chance of recovering the good aspects of the New Deal, and going beyond it to something better, it is going to be because more candidates like them win office, and because the coalitions that helped lift them up, grow as well. Neither is perfect, but both have demonstrated core commitments and a capacity to stay true to core commitments under tremendous pressure to do otherwise. In AOC's case, her reward is that Cuomo and his machine will probably attempt to eliminate her district after the 2020 census.

At 6:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, 10:53 with most.

I do not 'reduce' AOC. She is all you say she is. But she reduced herself by surrendering to Pelosi. totally. Pelosi has even made her tember her TRUTHFUL rhetoric. I did not do that. she did.

the economy has always been rigged against all but the capitalists. everyone.
But WE used to have unions and the democratic party to act as leverage against the capitalists. In 1980 we shat all that leverage. In 1981 the democratic party formed the DLC to tell voters to go fuck themselves. And voters did not hear. still have not.

If Sanders' 40 years of talking is really his crusade to awaken americans... ok. However, I think it is horrible experience rather than Bernie's talking that has awaken many. I don't know. I was shocked awake when americans elected Reagan. Apparently, I'm in a tiny minority. What the democraps did after did not surprise me at all, given what we just elected.
Bernie's been there for the whole thing. He hasn't even been able to slow it down. He just apologizes a lot.

And the democraps will NEVER allow Bernie anywhere near their nom for prez. ever. they'll let trump keep the throne rather than disappoint the money.

At 8:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 6:29 AM, I don't really agree that AOC sold out by backing Pelosi. The progressive caucus did not have the numbers to elevate one of their own, and the alternatives to Pelosi were worse. These kind of fights are also more or less determined years in advance. e.g. based on control of the DCCC. The coalition and support structures that lifted up AOC are basically 3 years old -- and she helped to build them. It's a long process.

As far as the power of labor goes, I agree with you that labor's marginalization has been a problem. Some of this is because of "sell-outs" within the party and the GOP's attacks. The labor bureaucracy has also often poorly served its membership. I don't see a candidate like Sanders as responsible for any of these factors. He's been a strong ally of labor throughout his career -- even at a time when labor's power has been at a low ebb. He's doing this at a time when it isn't politically expedient. Part of the legacy of his 2016 campaign is that it helped to plant seeds throughout the country which later influenced the wave of teachers strikes around the country. Sanders is just one guy -- he can't do all the work to bring labor back -- but his example provide a positive influence and example. To the extent there is any reason for hope going forward, it's because of his contribution. He is not the problem.

At 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:12, I agree on Sanders. He's not the problem. But he hasn't inspired the solution either. at least not yet. and given the stupidity of voters (come on... $hillbillary should not have won ANY primary) and Bernie's age, I can't see him being around when some yet unimagined existential crisis opens 400 million hibernating eyes.

I disagree with you about AOC. Maybe it was naivetee, but she could have abstained or voted for Ted Lieu. She cut a deal of some sort with Pelosi who needed her and her crew's endorsement for the appearance of unanimity in the caucus. She should not have done that.
She's done much with her mouth since and her endorsement of Bernie is probably an attempt at rehabilitation (since it would have annoyed Pelosi no end), so there's that. We'll see where it goes from there. If Pelosi does not retire and returns to wield the tyrant's gavel for 2 more years, AOC will have to win at least 2 more elections to prove her mettle. (any bets on how long it will take her to endorse biden after the DNC rigs the nom for him?)

hint: she'll be of age in 2024 for a white house run. but the DNC won't allow her on their ticket. she'll have to go independent.

an academic aside: Anyone know how long it took for heliocentrism to be generally accepted? How long did the truth told by Galileo take to be generally accepted? Was it more or less than the 40 years that Bernie has been talking? just curious.


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