A few weeks ago, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, Joyce Beatty, a longtime fave of the pay day lender lobbyists, became the first member of Congress to endorse against Nina Turner, part of a coordinated and very well-funded effort by the status quo sell-out members of Congress to prevent another progressive firebrand. While Turner was being endorsed by men and women like Pramila Jayapal, Jamaal Bowman, AOC, Cori Bush, Ilhan Omar, Mondaire Jones, Rashida Tlaib , Katie Porter, Ted Lieu, Ro Khanna, Ayanna Pressley, Mark Pocan-- and of course, Bernie-- conservatives led by Beatty, Blue Dog Josh Gottheimer, Jim Clyburn, Hillary Clinton, Likud rep Ted Deutch, California coke freak Pete Aguilar and Maryland booze distributor David Trone, rallied against Nina.
Beatty, a crooked multimillionaire, staged a made-for-TV phony arrest of herself to "earn" some street cred. But she's a disgrace-- and not just because of her work against Nina Turner. As Adam Serwer wrote for The Atlantic yesterday, Democratic Leaders Are Betraying Black Voters. "If the Democratic Party," he wrote, "is not upholding a racist double standard with its inaction, it is at least acquiescing to one. Democratic leaders have a plan for overcoming the Republican Party’s attempts to restrict the franchise: Just vote harder. Civil-rights leaders expressed their frustrations to The New York Times last week, telling the outlet that 'White House officials and close allies of the president have expressed confidence that it is possible to 'out-organize voter suppression.'"
Those acquiescent Black leaders are not Nina Turner, Jamaal Bowman, Ayanna Pressley, Mondaire Jones, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Joe Neguse. Nope, Serwer is talking about the shameless frauds and hucksters like Hakeem Jeffries, Jim Clyburn and Joyce Beatty-- not to mention Schumer, Pelosi, Hoyer and Biden.
Following Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election, Republican-led states have engaged in a massive campaign to narrow voting access, spurred on by the falsehood that Trump’s loss was the result of widespread voter fraud. Despite Republicans losing both houses of Congress and the White House during the Trump years, the former president’s relatively strong 2020 showing left Democrats with thin margins in the House and Senate, and key Democrats are unwilling to alter Senate rules in order to pass voting-rights legislation by a simple majority. The position of Democratic leaders is perhaps less a plan than what they believe is their only course of action.
Unfortunately, the Republican scheme to insulate the party’s political power from accountability to the American majority cannot be overcome by enthusiasm. Despite the other ideological divisions within the party, all elements of the GOP have long been on the same page when it comes to using the countermajoritarian levers of American democracy to shield themselves from the electorate.
In 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts gutted a key section of the Voting Rights Act by deploying a dubious legal doctrine with no textual roots in the Constitution, arguing that racism was a thing of the past. In 2019, after a flood of partisan voting laws targeting Democratic constituencies, the conservatives on the Court gave their blessing to partisan gerrymandering, in effect granting Republicans permission to discriminate on the basis of race so long as they argued that they were targeting voters because they were Democrats, not because they were Black. In 2021, the Court continued its effort to read the Fifthteenth Amendment out of the Constitution, finding that barely any discriminatory restrictions would run afoul of the Voting Rights Act absent the most concrete proof of intent to discriminate. The trend is consistent; as long as plausible deniability is maintained, any discriminatory act is kosher. Given that most of the Court’s conservatives supported the Trump administration’s attempt to use the census to effect a nationwide racial gerrymander even after the racist intent behind the scheme and subsequent cover-up was revealed, the conservative wing’s definition of plausible deniability is generous to the point of incredulity.
Republicans have insisted that these restrictions are needed to fight voter fraud. But over a period of decades Republican prosecutors have failed to produce anything in the same galaxy as widespread voter fraud, and they similarly failed in the last election. What they conceive of as fraud is simply their political opponents successfully contesting elections; conservative defeat is all the proof of “fraud” that is needed.
Republicans have proved willing to play constitutional hardball to win such victories, holding open a vacancy on the Court when Democrats were in the White House and then filling one in the closing days of an election when a Republican was president. Democrats, by contrast, have refused to pursue constitutional but aggressive measures-- rejecting federal voting-rights legislation, the admission of new states, and changing the size of the Supreme Court-- instead telling their at-risk constituencies to simply vote harder next time.
Democratic complacency can be explained by several factors. One is that, by themselves, voting restrictions have sometimes backfired, motivating the targeted constituencies to show up rather than have their votes suppressed. Another is that the ideological divisions within the caucus mean that Democrats remain short of the necessary votes in the Senate to change the rules in the chamber, which would allow them to pass voting-rights legislation with a simple majority. A third is the fact that many in the Democratic Party take Black votes for granted because they believe that racism in the Republican Party gives those voters no viable alternative. Too many Democratic Party leaders think nothing of demanding that Black voters show up in numbers sufficient to rescue American democracy every election and then do little to secure the rights of their most loyal constituents once they are elected.
If the Democratic Party is not upholding a racist double standard with its inaction, it is at least acquiescing to one. The targeted constituencies must treat every election cycle as though their fundamental rights are on the line, listen to Democratic leaders compare the voting restrictions targeting their right to the franchise as “the new Jim Crow,” and then watch those same leaders do nothing with the power they are given except tell them to simply out-organize those attempting to deprive them of their right to vote.
This pattern cannot be repeated forever. Eventually, Republicans will figure out effective schemes for minimizing the power of Democratic constituencies in order to limit the impact of so-called blue waves at the ballot box. It does not matter how many Democratic votes are cast if those votes are gerrymandered into vote-sinks that preserve Republican majorities at the state and federal levels. Organizing cannot overcome laws that allow partisan election officials to refuse to certify victories when their party is defeated. And if Republican legislatures pass proposals allowing state houses to overturn the results, the question of who wins the most votes will become moot. Historically, such attacks on the franchise have not succeeded indefinitely, but they can still have immediate and catastrophic consequences for historically marginalized communities whose votes no longer matter to those in power.
Should these Republican restrictions succeed, they will not only strengthen the ability of the GOP to win without a majority of the electorate-- they will also shape the electorate itself by enhancing the political power of the GOP’s base at the expense of the rest of the country. That would move the political leadership of the United States significantly to the right of where it is today. The rhetoric of Democratic Party leaders portrays this as a crisis of democracy, particularly for the constituencies they claim to serve. Their inaction suggests otherwise.
In case you didn't click on the link, I want to make sure you're aware that the Clyburn-Beatty axis of evil is working with a viciously zionist conservative PAC, Democratic Majority for Israel (the odious Mark Mellman), to flood Cleveland with ads smearing Turner-- over a million dollars already... and with spending accelerating.
"DMFI PAC, although a legally independent group, is closely tied to the Democratic Party," wrote Donald Shaw. "The vendors employed by the group to execute the expenditures are all companies that work with Democratic Party organizations. For example, DMFI’s top vendor for its spending in this race is Sage Media Planning & Placement, Inc., which primarily works with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and its offshoot group End Citizens United. Another DMFI vendor for the race is Trilogy Interactive LLC, which works for the DCCC and Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC affiliated with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Mellman’s consulting firm, The Mellman Group, has worked for multiple AIPAC-affiliated organizations, including the American Israel Education Foundation and Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, and has also been employed by major corporations and lobbying groups including Blue Cross Blue Shield, PhRMA, and Verizon. AIPAC is a lobbying group that was formed in the 1950s to create positive spin for Israel after the Israeli Army massacred dozens of Palestinian civilians in the village of Qibya. Several DMFI board members have previously held positions with AIPAC or its affiliate the American Israel Education Fund, including co-chairs Ann Lewis and Todd Richman. The American Israel Education Foundation is a charitable offshoot of AIPAC that organizes fact-finding trips to Israel for members of Congress.
Today, DMFI filed its pre-special election report with the FEC, revealing for the first time the corporate executives and financiers who have been funding it this year. Here are some of the top donors to DMFI’s non-contribution account since January 1.
Amnon Rodan, the former chairman of the multi-level marketing dermatology company Rodan + Fields, has been DMFI’s largest donor this year, giving the PAC $145,000. He is married to billionaire Katie Rodan, who co-created the acne management product Proactiv. Amnon is a director of the American Israel Education Fund and a former AIPAC board member.
Stacy Schusterman, the chairman of Oklahoma-based oil and gas company Samson Energy, has given DMFI $95,000 so far this year. Samson Energy currently operates assets in the Denver Julesburg basin in Wyoming, where it owns drilling rights to over 70,000 acres. Schusterman is a prolific political donor who mainly gives to Democratic politicians and groups, but last year she also donated the legal maximum of $5,600 to Republicans Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Rep. Kay Granger of Texas. Stacy’s mother Lynn Schusterman is worth $3.4 billion, according to Forbes. Schusterman has been a major donor to DMFI in previous years, as The Intercept recently reported.
Victor Kohn, the president of investment company Capital International Inc., donated $50,000 to DMFI and the Kohn Family Trust chipped in another $50,000. Kohn’s past campaign contributions have primarily gone to Democrats, but he has also donated to Republicans including Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Andrew Viterbi is a co-founder of Qualcomm and the owner of Viterbi Group LLC, a venture capital firm that invests in emerging wireless communication and network infrastructure companies. He gave DMFI $45,000 this year. His son Alan Viterbia also gave the group $45,000. Alan is the CEO of Liquid Environmental Solutions and a former vice president of Lockheed Martin.
Barry Porter, the co-founder and managing general partner of private equity company Clarity Management, donated $45,000 to DMFI this year. Companies in the firm’s portfolio include oil and gas company Vaca Energy and copper mining company Skye Minerals Partners.
Alan Levow, a board member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has given DMFI $45,000 this year. Levow is a principal at real estate company Crowne Partners, which manages several luxury multi-family housing units throughout the Southeast as well as multiple commercial properties in Florida. Levow is vice president of the American Israel Education Foundation.
Jeffrey Aronson, co-founder and managing principal at Centerbridge Partners, gave $45,000. Centerbridge Partners is a vulture fund that specializes in distressed debt and leveraged buyouts, and has been one of the biggest investors in Puerto Rico, helping to further austerity policies on the island.
Milton Cooper, founder of New York-based Kimco Realty, donated $45,000. Kimco is a public company that owns and operates dozens of shopping plazas throughout the country. Cooper is a member of AIPAC’s real estate division, which is an initiative to encourage members of the New York real estate industry to get involved in pro-Israel politics.
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