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Do Imperfect-- As In Human-- Politicians Make You Feel Sad?

Last night, Marianne Williamson co-hosted-- with Krystal Ball, Katie Halper, Julianna Forlano and Briahna Joy Gray-- a three hour livestream fundraising event, Seize The House, for 31 candidates Marianne has endorsed so far this cycle. The candidates range from well-known political veterans like Alan Grayson (FL) and Nina Turner (OH) to new-comers like Shervin Aazami (CA) and Jessica Mason (TX). Although contributions are still coming in, as of this morning, the 31 candidates had split over $13,000.

It was a really wonderful event, Marianne and her co-hosts interviewing a cross-section of the 31 candidates and I urge you to go back and watch. In fact, you can watch it here:

But as the event went on, I saw a steady stream of very well-organized shills in the peanut gallery, many posing as "super-wokes," trying to undermine the whole idea of progressive candidates and especially making the preposterous claim that AOC and other members of the Squad are "sell-outs." They aren't. Not even a little. It doesn't mean I agree with every decision every one of them makes either on policy or strategy. They don't even all agree with each other on everything. But they are the most awesome and fierce members of Congress and I urge you not to fall prey to the establishment shills organized to undercut them, the same way-- and with the same tactics-- they used to cast doubts on Bernie during the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. AOC, Rashida, Ilhan, Cori, Ayanna and Jamaal were the only Democrats who refused to go along with the conservative establishment's plan to kill Build Back Better by de-coupling it from the Infrastructure Bill. It was the most significant vote of the 117th Congress and the only correct voters were cast by the 6 members on this page.

Anyone who feels perfection is attainable in politics and who believes they could do better, should run for office, not huff and puff along with the shills in the peanut gallery. A few days ago the New Yorker ran an interview David Remnick did with AOC, Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez An Insider Now? It's worth reading the whole thing. Below are some selections. In his intro, Remnick pointed out that "few in the history of [Congress] have so quickly become a focus of attention, admiration, and derision" as AOC, the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress, has since first beating Joe "the next Speaker" Crowley" during the massive blue wave of 2018.

Remnick began with a tough question, something that would be hard for any Democrat in Congress-- to rate Biden's first year as president. She didn't want to be mean but she wasn't going to lie either. "There are some things that are outside of the President’s control," she said," and there’s very little one can say about that, with Joe Manchin and Sinema. But I think there are some things within the President’s control, and his hesitancy around them has contributed to a situation that isn’t as optimal. My concern is that we’re getting into analysis paralysis, and we don’t have much time. We should really not take this present political moment for granted, and do everything that we can. At the beginning of last year, many of us in the progressive wing-- but not just the progressive wing-- were saying we don’t want to repeat a lot of the hand-wringing that happened in 2010, when there was this very precious opportunity in the Senate for things to happen." She the criticized him for "a reluctance to use executive power. The President has not been using his executive power to the extent that some would say is necessary."

Prodded by Remnick to say what she would have Biden do, she said that "One of the single most impactful things President Biden can do is pursue student-loan cancellation. It’s entirely within his power. This really isn’t a conversation about providing relief to a small, niche group of people. It’s very much a keystone action politically. I think it’s a keystone action economically as well. And I can’t underscore how much the hesitancy of the Biden Administration to pursue student-loan cancellation has demoralized a very critical voting block that the President, the House, and the Senate need in order to have any chance at preserving any of our majority."

AOC recognizes that incredibly corrupt corporate whores like Manchin and Sinema will approve of anything "that will significantly and materially improve the lives of working people. It’s a bit of a dismal assessment, but I think that, given an analysis of their past behavior, it is a fair one. The President has a responsibility to look at the tools that he has."

What's it like now that she's "in the room," asked Remnick. and her response is what the media packed on since the interview ran: "Honestly, it is a shit show. It’s scandalizing, every single day. What is surprising to me is how it never stops being scandalizing. Some folks perhaps get used to it, or desensitized to the many different things that may be broken, but there is so much reliance on this idea that there are adults in the room, and, in some respect, there are. But sometimes to be in a room with some of the most powerful people in the country and see the ways that they make decisions-- sometimes they’re just susceptible to groupthink, susceptible to self-delusion. The infrastructure plan, if it does what it’s intended to do, politicians will take credit for it ten years from now, if we even have a democracy ten years from now. But the Build Back Better Act is the vast majority of Biden’s agenda. The infrastructure plan, as important as it is, is much smaller. So we were talking about pairing these two things together. The Progressive Caucus puts up a fight, and then somewhere around October there comes a critical juncture. The President is then under enormous pressure from the media. There’s this idea that the President can’t 'get things done,' and that his Presidency is at risk. It’s what I find to be just a lot of sensationalism. However, the ramifications of that were being very deeply felt. And you have people running tough races, and it’s 'he needs a win.' And so I’m sitting there in a group with some of the most powerful people in the country talking about how, if we pass the infrastructure bill right now, then this will be what the President can campaign on. The American people will give him credit for it. He can win his Presidency on it. If we don’t pass it now, then we’ve risked democracy itself... [P]eople really just talk themselves into thinking that passing the infrastructure plan on that day, in that week, is the most singular important decision of the Presidency, more than voting rights, more than the Build Back Better Act itself, which contains the vast majority of the President’s actual plan. You’re kind of sitting there in the room and watching people work themselves up into a decision. It’s a fascinating psychological moment that you’re watching unfold."

It’s not to say that all these things that they’re saying are a hundred-per-cent false. But I come from a community that is often discounted in many different ways, because, you know, these are “reliable Democrats.” Like, what she has to say doesn’t matter, etc. What does she know about this political moment? The thing that’s unfortunate, and what a lot of people have yet to recognize, is that the motivations and the sense of investment and faith in our democracy and governance from people in communities like mine also determine majorities. They also determine the outcomes of statewide races and Presidential races. And, when you have a gerrymandered House, when you have the Senate constructed the way that it is, when you have a Presidency that relies on the Electoral College in the fashion that it does, you’re in this room and you see that all of these people who are elected are truly representative of our current political system. And our current political system is designed to revolve around a very narrow band of people who are, over all, materially O.K. It does not revolve around the majority.

We need AOC and the other members of the Squad who bit the bullet that day-- and people like AOC and the members of the Squad-- who have political courage in their veins, not careerism. Former Columbus, Georgia Mayor Teresa Tomlinson (July, 2019): "It’s fear that cripples the Democratic Party. Fear of our policies, fear of who we are, and fear of the Republicans. Yes, fear is what has politically cost us in the last many election cycles. One cannot lead if one is afraid. The thing about leadership is that people want their leaders to be brave. They care less about what you think on the issues than whether you have the moxie to fight for them and the strength of conviction to tell them what you really think... That’s what the Right can’t stand about The Squad. Those women are fearless about their beliefs. They refuse to be bullied, and that is dangerous to the Republican playbook of shaming scared Democrats into milk toast, mealy-mouthed, baby-splitting positions that are equivocal and stand for nothing. American voters revile those who won’t tell the people what they think. Even if you don’t support the policies-- or certainly some of the statements-- of The Squad, you can’t deny that you appreciate that they unabashedly tell the world what they think."

I'll leave you with one last set of questions and answers:

Remnick: When you are asked questions about whether or not Nancy Pelosi should stay as Speaker, when you’re asked questions about the rather advanced ages of Steny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn, and Chuck Schumer, does it make a difference? You’re saying it’s structural. It’s not generational.
AOC: It’s both. The reason we have this generational situation that we do is also, in part, due to our structures. The generational aspect of things is absolutely pertinent to the kind of decision-making. There is this world view, this appeal, of a time passed that I think sometimes guides decision-making. President Biden thought that he could talk with Manchin like an old pal and bring him along. And, frankly, that was what the White House’s strategy was, in terms of what they communicated to us. That’s how they tried to sell passage of not even half a loaf but a tenth of the loaf. It was “We promise we’ll be able to bring them along.” There is this idea that this is just a temporary thing and we’ll get back to that. But I grew up my entire life in this mess. There’s no nostalgia for a time when Washington worked in my life.
Remnick:Is it healthy or not for the Democratic Party for Nancy Pelosi to remain in place as the Speaker, as leader of the Democratic caucus in the House?
AOC: It’s really all about a specific moment that we’re in. We are in such a delicate moment of the day-to-day, particularly with the threats to our democracy. I believe that, at the end of the day, there’s going to be a generational change in our leadership. That is just a simple fact. Now, when that particular moment happens? I think it’s a larger question of conditions and circumstance.
Remnick: You don’t want to go near this one.
AOC: It’s a tough question. It’s not even just a question of the Speaker. It’s a question of our caucus. I wish the Democratic Party had more stones. I wish our party was capable of truly supporting bold leadership that can address root causes.

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