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Is Being A Whore For AIPAC— And The Likud— Incompatible With American Progressivism?

John Fetterman, Mondaire Jones, Ritchie Torres



On Friday, New York Magazine profiled 3 politicians’ switch from progressive to… not progressive. Blue America looked at all three when they first ran. We backed two, John Fetterman and Mondaire Jones, and laughed at one, Ritchie Torres. Avoiding policy, Torres’ claim to being progressive was pure identity politics: an openly gay Afro-Latino. An open and aggressive shill for AIPAC and the crypto-criminals, the identity politics wasn’t going to do it for us. We never endorsed him. A big giveaway came when he went to Cleveland to campaign against Nina Turner, backing a corrupt conservative instead (another AIPAC shill as it turns out).



Fetterman and Jones, seemed fine— until they weren’t. At which point, we quietly backed away. By the time Fetterman was running for the Senate, he was just another garden variety Democrat. In his current race for the old House seat he abandoned 2 years ago, it rapidly became clear Mondaire Jones had no principles beyond getting elected, so we unendorsed him 2 months before the Progressive Caucus did. None of these characters fit in with this:



The Congressional Progressive Caucus also unendorsed Jones... and Torres, who never belonged in the caucus to begin with, either left of his own accord— with Lois Frankel (D-FL)— or was asked to leave. Sarah Jones began her piece with a standard quote from Torres: “I didn’t leave the progressive movement; the progressive movement left me.” Like Fetterman and Mondaire Jones, his ties to AIPAC didn’t allow any room for tolerance of a less Zionist perspective. He didn’t leave the progressive movement, because he was never really part of it.


“If we take him at his word,” wrote Sarah Jones, “he’s been a Zionist for a long time. But he’s not being entirely truthful about the progressive movement or his place within it either. The movement didn’t leave him: He left it, if indeed he was ever fully part of it, by making a series of deliberate choices. One such choice is to support Israel despite the unbelievable brutality it has inflicted on Palestinians in Gaza. Support for Israel isn’t the only reason Torres might find himself outside the progressive movement. During his time on the City Council, Torres angered progressive supporters by agreeing ‘to water down the Right to Know Act, which would have forced officers to provide a business card in every encounter with the public,’ City & State reported. In 2017, ahead of the vote, he said, ‘I stand by what I have chosen to do, even if it means standing alone … even if it means I am no longer beloved in progressive circles.’ He carried that attitude with him to Congress, where he discovered allies within the Democratic Party, such as Senator John Fetterman. The Pennsylvania senator also holds a stringent pro-Israel position and told comedian Bill Maher this month that progressivism ‘left’ him after October 7. ‘I didn’t leave the label, it left me on that,’ he said. Mondaire Jones, who’s running to return to Congress, struck a similar note in an interview with Politico. After he endorsed the AIPAC-backed George Latimer over progressive incumbent Jamaal Bowman, he came under significant fire from the left. The political arm of the Congressional Progressive Caucus even rescinded its endorsement of him. ‘These people were never my actual friends,’ he claimed, saying that he would do nothing differently if given the chance.”



Torres, Fetterman, and Jones are free to say that the progressive movement has left them behind. Perhaps they think they’re even being honest. The term “progressive” can be vague, even meaningless. Various Democrats and their supporters interpret it in wildly divergent ways. It’s possible, then, for Torres to think of himself as a progressive, though he was never as far left as some may have hoped. But that exercise is difficult to sustain now, as Israel carries out a genocidal campaign in Gaza. Torres and pro-Israel politicians like him have sided with power over the powerless.

In doing so, they’ve cast themselves out of the progressive movement. The label didn’t leave Fetterman; he merely discarded it. He was happy to call himself progressive in social-media posts, to court the left as a candidate, and to accept a Sanders endorsement during his successful run for lieutenant governor. Now, when it truly counts, Fetterman is likelier to taunt the left than he is to embrace it. The left must employ litmus tests if terms like progressive are going to mean anything at all, and Fetterman would fail. So too would Torres and Jones. If they feel uncomfortable with the progressive movement now, it’s likely a sign they never belonged in the first place. Their values were always in conflict with the left, and Gaza merely brought that reality into sharper focus.
It’s convenient, though, for pro-Israel Democrats to shift blame onto the left. Doing so gives them a chance to present themselves as brave truth tellers: See Jones, speaking of his personal sense of morality. But the left is not as powerful as I want it to be, and no courage is necessary to attack it. Critics instead exaggerate its influence in order to score points. It’s a cheap way to look principled. Jones must invent straw men— “ trust fund socialists in Williamsburg,” as he put it to Politico— in order to sound somewhat reasonable, let alone courageous.
Courage is not in the eye of the beholder. It means something. (So should the word progressive.) There’s nothing brave about rejecting the left in a moment of great moral consequence. Nor is there anything particularly courageous about standing with Israel, a longtime U.S. ally, as it pummels Gaza into dust. Courage in politics looks more like Bowman, who faces a formidable challenge from AIPAC as he defends his seat in Congress. A recent poll showed Bowman trailing Latimer, who is running to his right, but Bowman has refused to compromise his beliefs. “They’ve got money, we’ve got people,” he posted on Twitter.

Seems like a lot, right? But on top of that, the genocide lobbyists have spent over $12 million smearing Bowman and propping up Latimer

The U.S. needs a viable left: a counterweight to politicians who turn their backs to ongoing mass murder. Without it, we’re doomed not to ambivalence but something worse, an embrace of brutality and vengeance and horror. Torres, Fetterman, and Jones have made their choices. Progressive may be a mostly toothless label, but if it’s still too much, the movement is better off without them in it.


1 Comment


Guest
Jun 18

Being a corrupt whore IS american. There IS NO american progressivism. NOBODY and neither party has been even fractionally progressive since 1966. Since the DLC was convened by slick willie, progressivism has been anathema to your corrupt pussy democraps. It's always been anathema to the nazis save for the TR admins over a century ago. IOW, americans have refused to elect anyone and any party that is even a tiny bit progressive.


So your question is... nonsequitur.

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