-by Jason Call
I’m not talking 'bad' in terms of comparison to Republicans. Your average contemporary Republican politician is a horror show of bigotry and mendacity, openly seeking white Judeo-Christian patriarchal supremacy through the legislative process. This is not a controversial statement, given the long history of voter suppression and now the recent spate of anti-abortion measures in Republican controlled states. They are a real threat to democracy and we need to ensure they are defeated at every turn.
However, we cannot take our eyes off the fact that many (very many) Democrats seek bipartisanship with Republicans on economic and social issues that should be considered a slap in the face of Democratic Party principles. Often it’s argued that moving to the middle is the only way to win these seats for the Blue Corner. We won’t know until the Democratic Party wins on truly progressive values with the support of the party establishment, and there’s very little evidence that has been tried in all but a few places. I was lucky enough to watch Pramila Jayapal win the 7th District seat in Washington on the strength of the Seattle electorate’s deep progressive values, but this is also the city that elected Kshama Sawant, one of the only prominent openly socialist council members in the nation.
Jayapal is a gem. The rest of the Washington House delegation (6 other seats) not so much. All of them, members of the New Democrats, sprung from Clinton/DLC ‘Third Way’ ideology that along the way was funded by Koch Brothers money in hopes of securing ‘free trade’ deals to further exploit the world’s labor force and other resources. The WA-02 incumbent I’m challenging came from a health industry lobbying career, and is almost fully funded by corporate PACs and maxed-out CEOs, Presidents, and Executives, so it’s no surprise that he wanted to fast track TPP, voted for the 2005 Bankruptcy Giveaway, has sought to undermine Dodd-Frank, seeks to open Chinese markets to American companies to exploit cheap labor, and helped hometown donor Boeing regulate itself resulting in the catastrophic failure of the 737MAX program.
But these are the things that are easy to find. And even knowing these things, the 'moderate' Democratic voters still believe that Larsen is a 'Good Democrat.'
What if there was more? What if there were not just a handful of bad votes? What if there were dozens? Scores? Hundreds even?
Who would even know where to look?
Well, look we must. In fact it’s time for us to do a deep examination on ALL corporate funded Democrats.
I pride my campaign team on putting together the hands-down best opposition research in the country. We believe this work (which you can find at www.callforcongress.com/larsen), is so vital to saving democracy, that we’re going to start hosting 'how-to' seminars for other progressive candidates, so they can expose their own incumbents.
Vital to democracy? Going after Democratic incumbents? Why not go after Republicans?
Well yeah. Go after them too. But everywhere that there’s an abjectly terrible Democrat, it is our duty to seek their replacement because, let’s face it, these folks are not fighting for the average working American, they’re not fighting for democracy, they’re fighting for their corporate donors and the oligarchy; we have no time for that malarkey while the planet is on fire. The evidence for corporate allegiance is all in the Congressional Record and the FEC filings. But it’s not necessarily in the votes on final bills that the evidence of treachery lies. It’s in the Amendment Process, which almost nobody ever looks at.
We looked. (A lot. Actually, we couldn’t look away.)
To date, my team has unearthed at least 170 (and counting) awful votes by Rick Larsen (a Rep who, it should be known, hasn’t sponsored a bill that was signed into law since 2013, and of all the House Dems who were first elected in 2000 has the least floor speaking time), a fly-under-the-radar seat warmer if there ever was one. But the point is, ALL corporate Democrats have similar egregious track records, and we need to start shedding sunlight and shouting about it.
Let’s take a look at some of Rick’s greatest offenses (hard to whittle down out of 170+!)
In 2015, Larsen was the only Democrat to vote against prohibiting federal contracts be awarded to firms that have violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. Unsurprising that he has a tenuous relationship with labor locally.
In 2006, he voted to increase federal funding to police departments intended to continue the drug war. This vote he took the day before he voted to allow the DOJ to attack states that legalized medical cannabis (which Washington did, in 1998)*. The sponsor of this amendment (yes, an amendment) was Nebraska Republican Terry Lee, who said "The grants go directly to our police departments, our sheriff’s departments, to fight the drug dealers on the ground." Rick is proud of his endorsements by local law enforcement. Recently he crowed his support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, but prior to the May 2020 protests he had never before mentioned any concerns with policing. We looked. Prior to June 7, 2020, not a single mention of Black Lives Matter, Ferguson, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, and you get the picture. I guarantee on this anniversary of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police, he’s all but forgotten it. *Larsen has taken multiple votes to allow the DOJ to continue to attack cannabis in states where it has been legalized.
He’s voted against leaving Afghanistan every time it’s come up, including most recently in 2020. He’s only said that it’s time to leave now that the Biden Administration has signaled wanting out. These votes came in 2010, 2011 (1), 2011 (2), 2012, and 2020.
He’s voted against every bill that sought to cut the Pentagon budget. Large cuts to minute cuts. Every one. By 12% in 2013. By 10% in 2020. By 3% in 2012. By 2.5% in 2011. By 1% in 2017 and 2013. Even by 0.04% in 2012.
Lastly here (but this brief survey is just the tip of the iceberg) in 2001-- freshly sworn in at the behest of the medical lobbying industry, Larsen voted against an amendment from Bernie Sanders that would have abolished the monopoly that pharmaceutical companies have on the importation of prescription drugs that they manufacture.
My question to you then, dear reader, is-- 'is this what you want out of the Democratic Party?'
If I were ok with Larsen’s record, I wouldn’t be running.