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Democratic Elected Officials Tell The Base What's Possible, The Opposite Of How MAGA-World Works



On Friday, writing for The Lever, David Sirota noted that “If Democratic base constituencies— college-educated white collars, communities of color, young people, etc.— went beyond merely voting in November and actually made demands of their Democratic lawmakers (and held them accountable in primaries), then maybe the party would pursue its purported agenda with the same urgency as the Republican Party does for its conservative base. And if that happened, maybe more voters would flock to Democrats who were materially improving their lives. Over the last 25 years, the opposite has happened. While Republican normie voters were being radicalized by Fox News and talk radio, Democratic normie voters were being anesthetized by NPR, the New York Times, The Atlantic, and MSNBC, which taught them to believe that an extremist like John Roberts is a lovable moderate, Mike Pence is an American hero, George Bush is a decent guy, and an operative who installed Sam Alito on the court is a warrior for democracy. That media machine convinced Democratic normies to believe the highest calling of citizenship was to simply line up behind party-approved candidates, crush progressive challengers in primaries, and ‘vote blue, no matter who’ in general elections— and then do nothing more, even when ‘electable’ conservative Democrats lost and the few winners produced no change. The worst thing anyone could do, they taught viewers, was criticize, pressure, or protest Democratic leaders to try to get them to do anything… Meanwhile, the labor movement was crushed by Democrats’ trade deals and corporate union busting, disempowering what had been a radicalizing force inside the Democratic coalition.”


Due of the efforts of Pelosi and other Democratic leaders, this anti-Choice, pro-NRA reactionary Blue Dog just beat a progressive Democratic woman in a party primary by 289 votes. Thanks, Nance!

The campaigns, advocacy, and pressure of my generation and the Boomers did not radicalize the normies quickly enough. We were not just outgunned by conservatives, outspent by corporatists, and undermined by liberal careerists selling their souls for the next hot take— we were also outmaneuvered, outsmarted, and outperformed.
We failed, and that failure allowed Democratic leaders to never fear their own base— to the point where Democratic voters gave their presidential nomination to the candidate who authored the crime bill, allied with segregationists, championed the Iraq War, touted Social Security cuts, voted to let states restrict abortion, and sharpened bankruptcy laws.
So here’s the bad news: Because this dynamic allowed Democratic leaders to never feel the heat of accountability, they never wielded their power to make a serious effort to avert the current nightmare. In many cases, they did the opposite.
The Obama presidency was defined by initiatives to prop up health insurance predators, protect Wall Street criminals, and abandon promises to Democratic voters, which created the backlash conditions and depressed turnout that helped lead to Donald Trump’s ascent. The Biden presidency has been similarly defined by the party living up to the president’s promise that “nothing would fundamentally change”— and its attendant unwillingness to materially improve the lives of anyone other than billionaires and corporate executives, all while the administration boosts various right-wing causes.
The crescendo of this phantasmagoria has led to this grim reality: As conservative justices now turn on a spigot of extremist rulings, the Democratic president is giving half-hearted speeches pretending he has no power, and issuing reports declining to even support expanding the Supreme Court— due to concerns about protecting “its independence and legitimacy.”
For their part, Democratic congressional leaders are singing patriotic ballads while sending out fundraising emails. They expect yet another positive response from a base that up until now has politely asked for— but never really demanded— anything from them in return.
…[N]ormie Democratic voters may finally have had enough of this shit.
Last month, a stat buried in an NBC News poll showed that nearly two thirds of Democratic voters said they now want a candidate “who proposes larger-scale policies that cost more and might be harder to pass into law, but could bring major change.” Just a third said they prefer a candidate “who proposes smaller-scale policies that cost less and might be easier to pass into law, but will bring less change on these issues.”
Put another way: 63 percent of the party is finally radicalized, and just 33 percent are still clinging to the normie view. This might explain why a group of progressive congressional challengers recently overcame the odds and won their primaries, even against party leaders’ endorsements.
Democratic leaders only did things like enact Social Security, create Medicare, pass the Voting Rights Act, and end the Vietnam War once they feared the electoral consequences of inaction. The same dynamic holds today: You can bet Democratic leaders will not fulfill their longtime promise to statutorily codify reproductive rights until and unless they feel the same kind of anger and pressure as their predecessors felt in their day.
That’s how democracy is supposed to work: We’re supposed to evaluate representatives not on their personalities or party affiliations, but on their records, and when they fail to deliver on their promises, those representatives are supposed to fear being denied their party’s nomination and thrown out of office by their own voters.
“Politicians respond to only one thing— power,” wrote Ta-Nehisi Coates back in 2011. “This is not the flaw of democracy, it's the entire point. It's the job of activists to generate, and apply, enough pressure on the system to affect change.”
That’s how the American Right ultimately brought us to this horrible moment: They conditioned Republican voters to actually expect and demand things, and punish those who wouldn’t deliver.
That same attitude is what’s needed from Democratic voters now— not just rage aimed at the conservative ideologues turning back the clock, but also rage at the Democrats who control the government today. Those elected officials must be forced kicking and screaming— against their own desires— to actually produce. Not tomorrow. Now.

“I’m going to push back a little on what happened with the Boomer generation, because I cut my teeth on activism as a 20-something with Boomers,” Washington congressional candidate Jason Call told me this morning. “When I was young and protesting war (not only Iraq II but as far back as Iraq I), I looked to many Boomers for guidance with justice movements. When I was working for Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean within the Democratic Party around 2003-04, it was at the beckoning of local Boomers who told me I was wasting my time with the Green Party (I voted Nader in previous cycles, and not a thing I regret about it either). Then when Barack Obama was elected these same Boomers said ‘we’ve won’ and they quit fighting. And then they became angry with me because I was critical of Obama— ‘give him a chance, he has so much mess to clean up after W!’ Which Democrats helped with of course, they gave W a free pass on just about everything— Patriot Act, banking industry deregulation, environmental destruction (ever heard of the Halliburton loophole), and of course multiple wars, and on and on.”


“So people like me,” Call went on, “now 50, who have worked hard for 30 years to have many of the same Boomers (activists, not normies) decide that we had to unite around yet another terrible corporatist administration was a little much. Biden’s election was purely to keep people like myself and my #ActuallyProgressive candidate colleagues at bay, people who worked for Bernie and believe that we can achieve real social, racial, economic, and environmental equity on a global scale. It’s why we will forever be embittered at the establishment of the Democratic Party who used their corporate-backed weight to squeeze out the person who was a true leader for that better future. We all knew that the status quo wasn’t going to fight for that future. And here we are, still fighting. I believe we are on the cusp of that change, and that a better world is possible. And I do believe those normies are finally waking up.”


As Sirota mentioned, the Republican base knows exactly how to put the fear of God into their elected officials— and if you think overturning Roe is all they expect, you haven’t been paying close enough attention. Yesterday, Washington Post reporter Caroline Kitchener wrote that “On the heels of their greatest victory, antiabortion activists are eager to capitalize on their momentum by enshrining constitutional abortion bans, pushing Congress to pass a national prohibition, blocking abortion pills, and limiting people’s ability to get abortions across state lines. At the National Association of Christian Lawmakers conference in Branson, Missouri., on Friday several dozen state legislators from across the country brainstormed ideas— all in agreement that their wildly successful movement would not end with Roe v. Wade… Pence and other GOP leaders have called for a national ban.”


And here’s what’s wrong that nominated a conservative doddering fool— and long-time anti-Choice hack— for president: “Democrat-led states are scrambling to enshrine protections for abortion, and President Biden has pledged to do everything in his power ‘to protect a woman’s right in states where they will face the consequences.’ But Biden has also ruled out the more extreme remedies, such as expanding the Supreme Court, and key Democrats remain opposed to eliminating the Senate filibuster to protect abortion rights.”



Lucas Kunce is the populist Democrat on the verge of flipping the open Missouri Senate seat blue. This morning he told me that “A lot of DC Democrats are saying this is now an ‘election’ issue. That is BULLSHIT. Abortion was outlawed in Missouri minutes after the decision came down. Missourians can't just wait for another election. We all know who this decision will fall hardest on— working people and struggling families who are losing control over their own bodies and their economic opportunities. We cannot let this stand. Senate Democrats need to end the filibuster and codify Roe NOW.”


I also asked Alan Grayson, currently running for his old Orlando-based congressional seat, and was kind enough to delineate the 8 points he discusses FL-10 voters:

  • Abortion rights should be incorporated, through the 51-vote reconciliation process or through agency rulemaking, as part of health insurance minimal care, like preexisting conditions. Under the Supremacy clause, the states couldn’t do anything about it.

  • By regulation or executive order, abortion should be included in all health coverage for federal workers or federal employees, and their families up to the age of 27.

  • Abortion should be an allowed procedure all hospitals receiving federal funding (which is, essentially, all hospitals), either by statute, regulation or executive order.

  • Under a recent Supreme Court decision, state criminal law does not apply on Native American reservations. The Bureau of Indian Affairs should set up and fund abortion clinics in those reservations, including in Oklahoma, formerly known as Indian Territory.

  • Both governments and private donors/NGOs should reimburse or front travel expenses to women who now must travel to have an abortion.

  • There are several “blue” states that had abortion bans in effect before Roe v. Wade, and they should be repealed immediately.

  • The FDA should make pregnancy termination pills available without prescription, and enforce existing federal laws that prevent anyone from interfering in the distribution of a federally licensed drug.

  • “Blue states” should make it a crime for anyone to interfere with the rights of their citizens to terminate a pregnancy, including when those citizens are traveling elsewhere.


Given those limited options in a post- Roe America, antiabortion lawmakers are pushing to pass more restrictive abortion bans in their states.
Just moments after the Supreme Court released its decision on Friday, Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R) wrote to Gov. Ron DeSantis, urging the Republican to call a special session that would allow the legislature to pass a six-week abortion ban.
The 15-week ban that DeSantis signed into law in April, which allows more than 90 percent of abortions to continue, does not go far enough, Sabatini said.
“The problem is not the governor… it’s cowards in the Republican legislature who have been blocking [the six-week ban],” said Sabatini. Now that Roe has fallen, he added, he is hopeful that the governor and the legislature will “respond to pressure.” (A DeSantis spokesman pointed toward the governor’s statement on Friday pledging to “expand pro-life protections.”)
…Right now, [Missouri state Rep Mary] Coleman said, her priority is passing a constitutional amendment— by way of a statewide referendum— that makes clear there is no right to abortion in Missouri.
Coleman is also eager to restrict abortion across state lines, an idea she surfaced in legislation earlier this year and is now being discussed by antiabortion lawmakers across the country. The issue is particularly pertinent in Coleman’s home state of Missouri, where, even before Roe fell, thousands of people streamed across the Missouri-Illinois border for abortion care every year.
Coleman’s bill, which failed to pass in the 2022 legislative session, would allow private citizens to sue anyone who helps a Missouri resident access abortion outside the state, using the novel legal strategy behind the Texas abortion ban, which empowers private citizens to enforce the law through civil litigation.
…[State Rep Todd] Russ, of Oklahoma, is interested in cracking down on all the companies that have been voicing their support for abortion rights, offering to pay for their employees to access the procedure out of state.
JPMorgan, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Amazon and many others have recently announced new benefits to help employees access abortion services. “We are making this decision so our teammates can access the same health care options, regardless of where they live, and choose what is best for them,” Lauren Hobart, president and CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, said in a statement.
While Republicans are generally reluctant to impose restrictions on private corporations, Russ said, an exception should be made in this case.
“If somebody was driving the getaway care in a bank robbery … it is a very, very serious crime,” he said.
At this week’s conference in Branson, he said, he and his antiabortion colleagues discussed potential legislation to stop companies from funding abortions.
For Russ and other antiabortion lawmakers, limiting access to abortion pills is another top concern. Aid Access, an Austrian-based organization run by Dutch physician Rebecca Gomperts, mails abortion pills to all 50 states, including over a dozen states that have banned abortion by mail. Their orders from Texas increased by over 1,000 percent when the state enacted its six-week ban.
Now that Roe has been overturned, demand for abortion pills online is expected to skyrocket.
“There’s definitely a way to crack down on that,” Russ said, noting that all the abortion bans include a ban on abortion pills. “The question is, is there a way to enforce it?”
…As the day went on, Russ said, legislators discussed how the Roe ruling might affect other “conservative family battles” that have been decided by the Supreme Court, including Obergefell v. Hodges , the case that granted a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. The court’s decision on abortion, he added, might serve to highlight “just how many other things the Supreme Court has crammed down states’ throats over the last 50 years.”
He left the conference feeling optimistic about this new era in American history, he said.
“Now maybe we get to go back to all of our states’ rights.”

Reminder, not just to Republicans running in swing districts and states this coming November, but also to Joe Biden and his coterie of advisors:




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